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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Book Reviews

murdered. Overcome by grief, the family moved to the United States, leaving
the Learmonths to manage the property. McKeller's son, David Skene, later took
over that portion of the Hacienda del Nacimiento that became the Mariposa
Ranch, an important Mexican ranching enterprise that lasted until 1963.
During the McKeller family's three-year sojourn at Las Rucias, twenty-year-old
Margaret kept a diary which she later developed into a series of articles pub-
lished at the turn of the century in the Tapanui Courier, Tapanui, Otago, New
Zealand. These articles, here edited by anthropologist Dolores L. Latorre, are
rich in imagery of a place in time that has long since disappeared, and with vivid
descriptions of "ranche life," of the Mexican, Kickapoo Indian, and black Semi-
nole inhabitants of northern Mexico. Although peppered with prejudicial views,
many politically incorrect by today's standards, Margaret McKeller's Life on a
Mexican Ranche is a delightful memoir that captures the essence of a time now
more than a century past.
Fort Clark, Brackettvlle, Texas BEN E. PINGENOT
Dancing wzth the Devil. ByJos6 E. Lim6n. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,
1994. Pp. 239. Preface, introduction, notes. ISBN 0-299-14224-8. $42.00,
If, asJos6 E. Lim6n says, the devil takes many forms, then there must also be an
unfallen angel who organized this complex, extended, but always fascinating
ethnographic essay. Two metaphors are skillfully and at times playfully interwo-
ven, war and the devil. Using a strong dose of neo-Marxist analysis, Lim6n con-
tends that "since the 1830s, the Mexicans of south Texas have been in a state of
social war with the 'Anglo' dominant Other and their [Mexican American upper-
and upper-middle] class allies" (p. 15). The persistence, indeed, the recent "in-
tensified appearance" (p. 18o) of the devil is a reaction to the effects of capital-
ism and the postmodern economy.
The use of the first person lightens a heavily theoretical apparatus and allows
the author to speculate, postulate, and weave strands that are always convincing-
ly connected. Part 1 constructs and deconstructs the work of previous South
Texas folklorists, John Gregory Bourke, J. Frank Dobie, Jovita Gonzalez, and the
author's mentor, Americo Paredes. Lim6n uses an "interchapter" to "set out an
interpretive sociocultural context" (p. 13) based on the postmodernism of,
among others, David Harvey and Frederic Jameson. Part 2 deals with such fasci-
nating topics as male humor, meat consumption, and gender roles as seen in
popular dancing, devil legends, and faith healing. Lim6n's thesis is that "con-
temporary folkloric practices . . . among marginalized working-class Mexican
Americans in south Texas and possibly elsewhere" are "forms of continuing, if
repressed, war with a late-capitalist urbanized 'Anglo' culture of postmodernity"
(p. 116).
Lim6n makes an excellent case for his thesis. In the process he challenges the
ideas of his predecessors and expounds his own carefully crafted cutting-edge
ideas. For most historians the jargon may be too much, but there is plenty to savor.



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 3, 2016.

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