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Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas
by Jose Limon
University of Wisconsin Press, 1994
Paper: 978-0-299-14224-7
Library of Congress Classification F395.M5L56 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 976.40046872073


Combining shrewd applications of  current cultural theory  with compelling autobiography and elegant prose, José E. Limón  works at the intersection of anthropology, folklore, popular culture, history, and literary criticism.  A native of South Texas,  he renders a historical and ethnographic account of  its rich Mexican-American folk culture.  This folk culture, he shows—whether expressed through male joking rituals, ballroom polka dances, folk healing, or eating and drinking traditions—metaphorically dances with the devil, both resisting  and accommodating  the dominant culture of Texas.
    Critiquing the work of his precursors— John Gregory Bourke, J. Frank Dobie, Jovita Gonzalez, and Americo Paredes—Limón deftly demonstrates that their accounts of Mexican-Americans in South Texas contain race, class, and gender contradictions, revealed most clearly in their accounts of the folkloric figure of the devil.  Limón's own field-based ethnography follows, and again the devil appears as a recurrent motif,  signaling the ideological contradictions of folk practices in a South Texas on the verge of postmodernity.

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