Sometimes people ask me how I learned Spanish. I am not sure why I decided to learn Spanish or why I decided to study Mexico. As I have said before on my blog, or on facebook, Mexico City is like the boyfriend that is not so bad you can’t introduce him to your friends, but not so good you introduce him to your parents. But how did a class I took upon the encouragement of my mom in grade nine become the driving force in my life? And how, then, did it lead me to my first project (the book you should all be ordering for your libraries http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/the-national-body-in-mexican-literature-rebecca-janzen/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137546272) and now, my second.
When I started studying Spanish I noticed that many of my classmates were there to connect with their families and their cultures. Although my professional work does not deal with identity, and, in fact, contests identity as the basis of academic inquiry, I believe it is important to connect oneself with one’s work, and thus, to connect myself to my work.
My new project looks at Mennonites who have immigrated to Mexico through the lens of popular culture. Given the confusion between Mennonites and Mormons, and historical events, it will also looks at Mormons in popular culture and ejido [land claim] conflicts. People have told their stories before, but they have told them from the perspective of the Mormon or Mennonite communities and within those fields of study. Of course, I am Mennonite, so this project necessarily involves a bias, but, I am also well versed in Mexican culture, history and politics, so, my work will be more interesting. I also think that I am seeking to legitimize myself within my field – by studying something to which I almost belong, I become, somehow, a more legitimate scholar. Someone who has more of a claim on Mexico because if my grandparents had decided to stay in Mexico after their visit in 1949, my life would have been different, had I ever even existed.