Madrid’s book, “In the Country of Empty Crosses”, relates to its readers, his and his family’s memories and connections to the land. While many memories and experiences are shared in the book, through the discussion of these experiences and memories, Madrid tackles issues of religion, culture, race and the history of the southwest. This book also discusses issues of identity both personal and religious for Madrid. All of these topics are extremely interrelated.
Madrid starts out the book by discussing the history of the southwest and how his family was affected. He discusses how his great-great grandparents became U.S. citizens through the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This is where the ...view middle of the document...
When he travels back, people ask his name and they even seem to know, at times more about his family and identity than he does.
“‘My great-great-great grandfather Augustin was responsible for changing the name of the plaza to San Augustin’ he tells me. ‘My great-great grandfather Miguel Albino was killed by Apaches on the mesa above us while he was fetching some horses…’” (Madrid 9)
The people in these communities not only have a sense of identity for their own families but for the entire area they live in, including other residents. They have an oral history connected to place and to family. This is common in the Southwest, not just in New Mexico like Madrid’s connection to Los Valles de San Augustin, but in Arizona. My family carries the same sort of ties and oral history.
Culture in Madrid’s book has strong ties to religion and history in the Southwest. Madrid discusses religious and cultural practices. The decoration of graves sites is mentioned. Catholic grave sites seem to have a larger area, showing that Catholicism was the more prevalent religion in the area and the protestant plot was small and had no decoration, including gifts and offerings. Madrid discusses the role of church and state in his book. Including going into more depth on his great grandfather, Albino Madrid’s conversion to protestante. “When papa Albino joined the Presbyterian Church in 1888, he became part of the country’s historical record.” (Madrid 53) Again, this was not taken well by Hispano Catholics.
“In parallel fashion to the Fuertes, the fortifications Hispano settlers built on the frontier to protect themselves against indigenous marauders, the Hispano converts to Protestantism had to erect psychological barriers to protect themselves from the hostility of their former Catholic coreligionists, who now called them herejes (heretics) and wore.” (Madrid 70)
Madrid also mentions fiestas in his book. There are annual religious fiestas for patron saints of towns and churches which are often named...