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Miriam Lily Melton-Villanueva
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV 89154-9900)
Unfinished Histories of Sonora Mexico's Folklore Archive

Research and writing leading to a book on unpublished Spanish language folktales collected in Sonora, Mexico between 1975 and 1976.

The only folktale collection for the Ures region of Sonora, Mexico, remained unknown in an American folklorist widow’s garage for decades. This incredible collection includes 172 Spanish-language indigenous-influenced stories originally collected in 1975-1976 by Ronald Melton, who died before he could finish his dissertation at UCLA. In response to the destruction of cultural heritage materials worldwide, I translate these yet unpublished stories from five different towns in a high desert/ mountain-foothill region of Sonora, into English. I seek NEH support for one year of full-time research to publish a book project consisting of: 1)an analysis of the archive’s textual ethnohistorical data; 2)contextualization of the archive with new oral histories conducted with Lily and doña Anita, the two surviving assistants; and 3)translate Sonoran folktales. This new data analytically reclaims “stories” as histories, disrupting hidden hierarchies of power in traditional archival practices.

Project fields:
Folklore and Folklife; Latin American History; Latino History

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021