recently published her first book, In the Lands of Fire and Sun: Huichol Resistance and Accommodation, 1723-1930 (University of Nebraska Press, May 2018). This book is based loosely on Dr. Stephens dissertation, however, it is different overall in terms of argument and some argument.
In this book, Dr. Stephens examines the Huichol Indians as they have struggled to maintain their independence over two centuries. From the days of the Aztec Empire, the history of west-central Mesoamerica has been one of isolation and a fiercely independent spirit, and one group that maintained its autonomy into the days of Spanish colonization was the Huichol tribe. Rather than assimilating into the Hispanic fold, as did so many other indigenous peoples, the Huichols sustained their distinct identity even as the Spanish Crown sought to integrate them. In confronting first the Spanish colonial government, then the Mexican state, the Huichols displayed resilience and cunning as they selectively adapted their culture, land, and society to the challenges of multiple new eras.
By incorporating elements of archaeology, anthropology, cultural geography, and history, Dr. Stephens fills the gaps in the historical documentation, teasing out the indigenous voices from travel accounts, Spanish legal sources, and European ethnographic reports. The result is a thorough examination of one of the most vibrant, visible societies in Latin America.
"As for how it came to be, this book is based on a fluke," Dr. Stephens said. She began her career in graduate study by studying Native American History, working particularly on the Cherokees and Seminoles. She did study Latin America, but it was an outside field
"This topic was assigned to me by my Latin America adviser as a seminar project," she said. "Then, after passing my comprehensive exams in Native American history, I decided to switch and study Latin America. I started the dissertation research in 2008 and the rest is, as they say, history."
In the Lands of Fire and Sun : Resistance and Accommodation in the Huichol Sierra, 1723-1930 is now available through The University of Nebraska Press. For more information on the book, see the publisher's website.