Showing posts with label Jamaica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jamaica. Show all posts

Friday, October 24, 2014

#FridayReads: ¡Tequila!: Distilling the Spirit of Mexico by Marie Gaytán

Italy has grappa, Russia has vodka, Jamaica has rum. Around the world, certain drinks—especially those of the intoxicating kind—are synonymous with their peoples and cultures. For Mexico, this drink is tequila. 

For many, tequila can conjure up scenes of body shots on Cancún bars and coolly garnished margaritas on sandy beaches. Its power is equally strong within Mexico, though there the drink is more often sipped rather than shot, enjoyed casually among friends, and used to commemorate occasions from the everyday to the sacred. Despite these competing images, tequila is universally regarded as an enduring symbol of lo mexicano.

¡Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico traces how and why tequila became and remains Mexico's national drink and symbol. Starting in Mexico's colonial era and tracing the drink's rise through the present day, Marie Sarita Gaytán reveals the formative roles played by some unlikely characters. 

Although the notorious Pancho Villa was a teetotaler, his image is now plastered across the labels of all manner of tequila producers—he's even the namesake of a popular brand. Mexican films from the 1940s and 50s, especially Western melodramas, buoyed tequila's popularity at home while World War II caused a spike in sales within the whisky-starved United States. 

Today, cultural attractions such as Jose Cuervo's Mundo Cuervo and the Tequila Express let visitors insert themselves into the Jaliscan countryside—now a UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site—and relish in the nostalgia of pre-industrial Mexico.

Our understanding of tequila as Mexico's spirit is not the result of some natural affinity but rather the cumulative effect of U.S.-Mexican relations, technology, regulation, the heritage and tourism industries, shifting gender roles, film, music, and literature. Like all stories about national symbols, the rise of tequila forms a complicated, unexpected, and poignant tale. 

By unraveling its inner workings, Gaytán encourages us to think critically about national symbols more generally, and the ways in which they both reveal and conceal to tell a story about a place, a culture, and a people. In many ways, the story of tequila is the story of Mexico.

Marie Sarita Gaytán is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Being Black & Asian

If you didn't have the opportunity to meet Poet and author, Staceyann Chin at the NAACP's free Author Pavilion event where she was signing yesterday, I think you should take the time to read her work.

Before I met my boyfriend, who is also Jamaican and Chinese, I was unaware of how large this particular community is within the Caribbean (the population in Cuba is second to the Jamaican one) since many of the Chinese who came to the region as indentured slaves were not permitted to marry Caucasians. When I traveled to visit his family there it was really interesting to say the least. I've always found his ancestry extremely fascinating as well any narrative that relates to being of a mixed heritage or "race."

When I heard about The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin, I was thrilled because she delves into what it was like being both Black and Asian (Afro-Asian, Blasian) in Jamaica (in the real Jamaica - not the the tourist version) and then her experience as an immigrant to the US. She expands even further into that experience as she narrates what it is also like to be a gay woman in Jamaica - a place and culture known to be highly homophobic.




I am thrilled when I see books like this that tell the (often common yet marginalized) story and experience of those who often are left out of the mainstream realm. This sounds like required reading to me.

Visit www.staceyannchin.com or read an interview at www.theroot.com/blogs/books
 
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