Combining shrewd applications of current cultural theory with compelling autobiography and elegant prose, José E. Limón works at the intersection of anthropology, folklore, popular culture, history, and literary criticism. A native of South Texas, he renders a historical and ethnographic account of its rich Mexican-American folk culture. This folk culture, he shows--whether expressed through male joking rituals, ballroom polka dances, folk healing, or eating and drinking traditions--metaphorically dances with the devil, both resisting and accommodating the dominant culture of Texas.
Critiquing the work of his precursors-- John Gregory Bourke, J. Frank Dobie, Jovita Gonzalez, and Americo Paredes--Limón deftly demonstrates that their accounts of Mexican-Americans in South Texas contain race, class, and gender contradictions, revealed most clearly in their accounts of the folkloric figure of the devil. Limón's own field-based ethnography follows, and again the devil appears as a recurrent motif, signaling the ideological contradictions of folk practices in a South Texas on the verge of postmodernity.