The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

ask us to ignore rather than account for the existence of simultaneous histories"
(p. 276). Moreover, he deals with complex issues of identity, resistance, memo-
ry, self-representation, borders, movements, and paradigms in literature and his-
tory. This book is challenging, insightful, and a must read.
Eastern New Mexico Unzverszty, Ruidoso CYNTHIA E. OROZCO
Medzeval Culture and the Mexican Amercan Borderlands. By Milo Kearney and
Manuel Medrano. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2oo0. Pp.
x+240. Acknowledgments, introduction, sources, index. ISBN 1-58544-132-
5. $34.95, cloth.)
The debate about the relevance of medieval history to American culture is an
old one. Henry Adams, the first to teach medieval history in an American univer-
sity (Harvard, 1877), believed that the New World lacked not only a medieval
past, but any claim to have inherited religious beliefs, institutions, or patterns of
social organization from the Middle Ages. By contrast, America's first profession-
al medievalist, Charles Homer Haskins, argued that the indirect nature of the
connections between Americans and their medieval ancestors made them no
less real, and that a vital continuity manifested itself in areas as disparate as folk-
lore, government, literature, and law.
Milo Kearney and Manuel Medrano clearly belong to the "Haskins camp,"
arguing as they do that Mexican American Borderlands culture has many and
varied roots in that of medieval Europe, specifically, that of medieval Castile and
England. The authors further maintain that medieval Anglo and Hispanic soci-
eties evolved in a parallel fashion, and that strong links between these two cul-
tures were forged in pre-modern history.
In six chapters, Medieval Culture examines the medieval heritage of Borderlands
language, politics and law, economics and society, and religion and art, as well as
the development of Anglo-Hispanic conflict. This is an ambitious program for
such a slim volume, particularly since the authors do not hesitate to discuss influ-
ential linguistic and religious developments that predate even the Early Middle
Ages (Kearney and Medrano persist in using the pejorative term 'Dark Ages').
Nor do they feel that customs rooted in medieval experience, but not unique to
border culture, should be neglected: thus ubiquitous popular expressions ('wipe
the slate clean'), nursery rhymes ('This little piggy'), and children's songs
('London bridge is falling down'), find their way into the book.
Whatever the merits of this inclusive approach, it produces a prodigious
amount of information, which the authors try, with varying degrees of success,
to present gracefully. And since such a far-ranging book necessarily depends
upon the research of scholars from many different fields, the specialist is
bound to have reservations about how the authors treat his or her area of
expertise-my own include their presentation of witch trials as medieval,
rather than early modern, phenomena. Yet, it is precisely as a work of assimila-
tion that Medzeval Culture and the Mexican American Borderlands recommends
itself to a general audience.
The authors' interdisciplinary approach gives historical resonance to many
contemporary Borderlands customs, signs, and symbols: the ex-voto offering,

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed September 20, 2014.