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date: 08 April 2020

Summary and Keywords

The remarkably multi-faceted Américo Paredes Manzano attained the status of renowned scholar, teacher, author, and poet over his tumultuous and illustrious lifespan. Born in 1915 in Brownsville, at the southeastern-most corner of the state of Texas bordering Mexico, Américo Paredes passed away in Austin in 1999. His life and professional career spanned much territory, touched many lives, and affected areas of study and pedagogy as few individuals can claim. His impressive body of work is encyclopedic in range and awe-inspiring in its originality. Certainly, Paredes’s life circumstances must be read in their historical context. He was born at a time when the scent of revolution was strong in the air, declared in Mexico in 1910, and with the nascent organizing of the revolt to liberate south Texas from the rest of the state in 1915. Tensions among competing groups in the formation of Texas since the treaty of 1848 had not yet been resolved and the state of a negotiated pluralistic existence was still precarious at best. For generations, university students have first encountered the work of Paredes through his major work of scholarship on the border corrido (ballad), namely the fully contextualized and historicized analysis of “El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez”/ “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.” However, those who look further into his work realize that Paredes had already started to make his mark in the area of ethnomusicology, a branch of anthropology. His contributions are not insignificant as a number of his students went on to carry and extend Paredes’s teachings to other institutions of higher learning. One might see the logical relationship between this scholar’s interest in and knowledge of the Texas-Mexico border corrido and the more global ethnomusicologist’s perspective. In the same manner, Paredes trained and inspired numerous cadres of scholars in cultural and literary studies. By extension, his mentees have likewise now trained generations of scholars who have applied variants of the critical model pioneered by Paredes, rooted in his observations and study of the clash of cultures. Not unlike the history of other major intellectuals, the history of Paredes’s influence is marked by scholars who emulate, extend, revise, and also critique earlier views and critical approaches in a variety of areas such as language and linguistics, gender, class, race and ethnicity, and regionalism.

Keywords: Américo Paredes, “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero; Center for Mexican American Studies, Chicano Political Movement, Texas Rangers, U.S. Civil Rights Movement, Carlos Castañeda, Consuelo “Chelo” Silva, Greater Mexico, Amelia Nagamine Paredes

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