Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita Gonzaalez, and the Poetics of Culture

By MarÍa Eugenia Cotera | Go to book overview

chapter 3
A Romance of the Border

J. Frank Dobie, Jovita GonzU+00Elez, and the
Study of the Folk in Texas

The air in the room is close and smoky. I can still smell the rosemary and
lavender leaves I have just burnt in an incense burner to drive out the
mosquitoes that have driven me insane with their monotonous droning
music. For, in spite of the family's efforts to have me work in the house,
I prefer my garage room with its screenless windows and door, its dizzy
floor, the planks of which act like the keys of an old piano, and walls, hung
with relics which I like to gather as I go from ranch to ranch in my quest
for stories of the ranch folk. A faded Saint Teresa in a more faded niche,
smiles her welcome every morning and a Virgin of Guadalupe reminds me
daily that I am a descendant of a proud and stoic race. Back of the desk,
a collection of ranch spits is witness to my ranching heritage; an old, crude
treasure chest holds my only possession, a manuscript which will sometime
be sold, if I am among the fortunate. Hanging from a nail above is a home-
spun hand-woven coin bag, the very same which my grandfather was given
by his mother on his wedding day with the admonition, “My son, may
you and all who ever own it keep it filled with gold coins.” It hangs there
empty, for the descendant of that Don has never seen a gold coin, much
less owned one.

JOVITA GONZáLEZ, “SHADES OF THE TENTH MUSE”

The lies I tell are authentic.

J. FRANK DOBIE, TIME MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 13, 1947

Zora Neale Hurston was not the only folklorist returning to her home turf in the summer of 1929. That same year, Jovita González, a young Mexican American woman from the borderlands, returned to the place of her birth to conduct research into the social history of her people. Although she pursued her research rigorously—interview

-103-

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Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita Gonzaalez, and the Poetics of Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Para Juan Javier v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Native Speakers xiii
  • Introduction - Writing in the Margins of the Twentieth Century 1
  • Part One - Ethnographic Meaning Making and the Politics of Differencee 23
  • Chapter 1 - Standing on the Middle Ground 41
  • Chapter 2 - "Lyin'' Up a Nation" 71
  • Chapter 3 - A Romance of the Border 103
  • Part Two - Re-Writing Culture 133
  • Chapter 4 - "All My Relatives Are Noble" 145
  • Chapter 5 171
  • Chapter 6 - Feminism on the Border 199
  • Epilogue - "What''s Love Got to Do with It?" toward a Passionate Praxis 225
  • Notes 233
  • Bibliography 259
  • Index 275
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