The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In "Bits and Pieces: The Mexican American Folk Aesthetic," authors Suzanne Seriff and José Limón argue that a common aesthetic pervades all aspects of Mexican American culture including folk art, food, music, games, and rituals. Seriff and Limón assert that this common thread consists of the unification of “bits and pieces” to form an aesthetic whole. The authors provide as an example the traditional picnic of tripas, which are deep-fried bits of intestine rolled in tortillas. They claim that these picnics, which provide opportunities for social bonding among Mexican Americans, reflect a Mexican American response to a history of degradation; Mexicans were often given “leavings,” such as intestines that were thought unsuitable for consumption. Out of these “bits and pieces” they constructed a rich cultural tradition. Seriff and Limón argue that the preparation of traditional Mexican foods, the use of Mexican decoration and altars, and the celebration of Quinceañeras, and other Mexican holidays and rituals reinforce the solidarity of Mexican American communities. These customs create a sense of pride among Mexican Americans that negates the existing social order in which they are often demeaned or ignored.
Suzanne Seriff is a curator, lecturer, and folklorist who studies the folk art of the United States and Mexico. She is the author of Snakes, Sirens, Virgins, and Devils: The Politics of Representation of a Texas-Mexican Folk Artist, a book on a South Texas ceramicist. She has also served as a codirector and coeditor of the Museum of International Folk Art. In 1996 Seriff organized the traveling exhibition, Recycled, Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap.She currently works as a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
José Limón is a professor of American studies and American literature at the University of Notre Dame. Previously he served as the director of the Center for Mexican-American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin (2000–10), and was a professor of American and English literature, anthropology, and Mexican American studies. Limón’s research interests are the cultural relations between the United States and Mexico, folklore, Mexican American literature, Texan culture, and general cultural studies.
"Bits and Pieces: The Mexican American Folk Aesthetic" represents the enactment of Mexican American customs and everyday rituals as efforts to preserve and celebrate Mexican American culture, defending Mexican American communities against their detractors.