The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 536
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
compels modern scholars to continue their search for truth despite the sins of
If you want to read a witty and chatty treatise on how anthropology has creat-
ed and shaped the modern Southwest-or at least the idea of the Southwest-
read A Laboratory for Anthropology. Though the book tastes like a historical stew
with just a pinch of theoretical spice, every nugget is worth savoring. As you
read, keep in mind a set of questions that Fowler (and other who have been
influenced by post-structuralism) asks without answering. If the search by
Fowler's so-called "yearners" (p. 357)-anthropologists, writers, and tourists-
for authenticity in "primitive" peoples and places has always been ethnocentric
and exploitative, what does that tell us about Anglo-American culture? Does it
tell us that, whereas Indian peoples change creatively as they interact with the
"other" (as, say, Navajos changed when they came into contact with Pueblos),
American culture cannot change? Can there be no true reciprocity between
Americans and Indians? Have greed, inanity, and ethnocentrism hardened into
a kind of basaltic core of American culture? Or have anthropologists, in studying
Indians, become cultural shape-shifters, men and women who have set them-
selves, their people, and Indian peoples on new and mutually beneficial trajecto-
ries? Should we damn anthropologists for exploiting the "other," or should we
thank them for moving Americans toward new cultural vistas?
Or put those questions aside and read Fowler's book for its thousand and one
tales of scientists in the Southwest. You'll be rewarded either way.
Central Washington University DANIEL HERMAN
Writing Violence on the Northern Frontier: The Historiography of Szxteenth-Century New
Mexico and Florida and the Legacy of Conquest. ByJose Rabasa. (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2ooo. Pp. xiv+359. Acknowledgments, epilogue, abbrevia-
tions, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8223-2567-5. $19.95, paper.)
The book reviewed here is a study in the genre of literary criticism of specific
texts, mostly from the sixteenth-century, related to the Spanish exploration and
conquest of New Mexico and Florida. As the title suggests, the primary theme
of the study is the analysis of Spanish violence directed against the native peo-
ples they encountered, as well as the French Huguenots (protestants) who
attempted to establish a colony in Florida in the 156os. Rabasa identifies two
types of violence in the study. The first is the actual physical violence, and the
second is the violence of being presented in a certain perspective in the texts.
He also identifies what he calls the "culture of conquest," an intellectual con-
struct that glorified the exploits of the conquistador and survived well beyond the
end of Spain's colonial empire in the Americas. Not surprisingly, the Spanish
justified their violence against the native peoples, and in doing so denigrated
their victims by presenting them as being culturally and morally inferior.
Rabasa presents his analysis of the texts from the perspective, now the fad in
history and literary criticism, of postcolonial subaltern studies. Mercifully,
Rabasa does not abuse the esoteric and obscure postcolonial jargon (verbaje)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/580/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.