Each October, as the Day of the Dead draws near, Mexican markets overflow with decorated breads, fanciful paper cutouts, and whimsical toy skulls and skeletons. To honor deceased relatives, Mexicans decorate graves and erect home altars. Drawing on a rich array of historical and ethnographic evidence, this volume reveals the origin and changing character of this celebrated holiday. It explores the emergence of the Day of the Dead as a symbol of Mexican and Mexican-American national identity.
Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead poses a serious challenge to the widespread stereotype of the morbid Mexican, unafraid of death, and obsessed with dying. In fact, the Day of the Dead, as shown here, is a powerful affirmation of life and creativity. Beautifully illustrated, this book is essential for anyone interested in Mexican culture, art, and folklore, as well as contemporary globalization and identity formation.
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About the Author
Table of ContentsList of Figures and Plates.
Part 1 Introduction.
1. The Day of the Dead, Problems and Paradoxes.
Part 2 Historical Foundations.
2. The Sweetness of Death.
3. Skulls and Skeletons.
Part 3 Contemporary Transformations.
4. Tourism and the State.
5. The Poetics of Death.
6. The Day of the Dead and Halloween.
Part 4 North of the Border.
7. Teaching the Day of the Dead.
8. Creativity and Community.
Part 5 Conclusion.
9. Mexican Views of Death.
What People are Saying About This
"Erudite and charming, Brandes' book provides a welcome antidote to previous studies of Day of the Dead 'morbidity,' segueing seamlessly from the Mexican festivities to Mexican-Americans in California. The book is destined to become a classic in Hispanic studies." David D. Gilmore, SUNY, Stony Brook
"This is a marvelous book. Brandes, a perceptive analyst and delightful writer, mines his years of fieldwork to offer both the telling ethnographic episode and the revealing photograph. Skulls to the Living not only illuminates the fascinating rituals of the Day of the Dead, but offers rich insight into changing and kaleidoscopic Mexican culture as well." David I. Kertzer, Brown University