Thursday, August 19, 2010

Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera

It seems eerily appropriate that my edited book on the murdered women of Juárez is going to be published in November 2010, the centennial anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. How did Juárez go from being a seedbed of revolutionary thinking in 1910 to a killing field of women and girls and a cesspool of narco slaughter one hundred years later? Maybe Porfirio Díaz was right: poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States. But it's more than the crimes of proximity that have affected my hometown (because the El Paso/Juárez border, el Chamizal, to be exact, is literally the place where I was born). It's all of the ways in which this portal to the promised land has been poisoned, exploited, and coerced into losing its soul to Big Business and Big Brother. The deaths--particularly the femicides, which Making a Killing is all about--are the detritus of all this spoilage. The greed at the root of this spoilage is nothing new; it marbled the heart of Porfirio Díaz as much as it worms through the guts of any current-day politician, north or south of the border, whose only interest is to profit at anyone's expense, that is, to "make a killing." Unlike my previous mystery novel on the subject (Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders), this book is a collection of 13 scholarly essays and testimonios that focus exclusively on analyzing this continuous heinous crime wave of gendered violence on the El Paso/Juárez border, and the different forms of activism that have arisen over the last 17 years. Click on the thumbnail picture to see the book's table of contents and introductory essay.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Sabbatical Begins

And now, finally, after a month of house renovations, family visits, and a Vegas birthday vacation filled with bowling and blackjack, my sabbatical after a three-year term as department chair officially begins. As a "broche de oro" to close my chairship, I got the news that UC Systemwide had officially approved our department's M.A./Ph.D. proposal, and this was a fantabulous way to step down, although I know we all have our work cut out for us to get the graduate program off the ground. Still, as Elena our department's long-time administrative specialist said, I helped launch the new future of our department and I feel damn good about it. As to what my sabbatical brings, here's what I'm hoping for: much-needed rest and perhaps even the end of my stress-induced fibromyalgia; more exercise and walks on the beach; completion of a new academic book manuscript; beginning a new novel, and I'm playing with the idea of a YA book; and lots of bowling. Got a personalized bowling ball for my birthday, some spiffy bowling shoes, and a very professional-looking bowling bag to carry it all in (and with my Vegas blackjack winnings, I got Alma the same, and she helped upgrade our bags to rollers with her roulette winnings) and we are looking into lesbian bowling in Los Angeles. I think we found something at Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood. And we continue to look to the stars for signs of one named Azul.