2017 Jim & Linda Burke Visiting Scholar

Spencer Herrera, Associate Professor of Spanish,

New Mexico State University

Specializing in Chicano Literature, Film, and Culture

 

Taos Talk: Tuesday, May 23, 4PM at the Harwood Museum of Art

“Etched in Wood: Cultural Propaganda and New Mexico True”

 The “New Mexico True” tourism campaign can be found in magazines, in airport displays, and on YouTube. Dr. Herrera compares this marketing plan to the U.S. State Department’s cold war-era documentary film And Now, Miguel (1953), which was designed to show a softer, familial side of the American people. It features the Chávez family who live in the small northern New Mexico village of Los Cordovas, near Taos, where they raise sheep. Over half a century later the propaganda efforts have transitioned from a political agenda to an economic one. It is now New Mexico’s state office of tourism that promotes their “New Mexico True” brand that is geared toward “consumer[s],” not political alliances or cultural connections. As the state tourism website asserts, the purpose of “New Mexico True” is to “seek what is true and push past what we know to be false.” Like the sheepherders who carefully tend to their flock, New Mexicans must protect their culture on their terms if it is to endure despite the rapid changes due to growth and technology that threaten their cultural traditions.