Weber-Clements Book Prize

Communities of Violence in the Southwestern Borderlands, 1680-1880

Lance R. Blyth

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
6 pm reception followed by 6:30 lecture and book-signing
The DeGolyer Library
6404 Robert S. Hyer Lane at McFarlin Boulevard

Although this event is free and open to the public, seating is limited.
Click here to register online or call 214-768-3684.

Winner of the 2012 Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America, Lance Blyth will discuss his research on borderlands violence in his book Chiricahua and Janos: Communities of Violence in the Southwestern Borderlands, 1680-1880 (University of Nebraska Press, 2012).  

So explosive in our time, borderlands violence has deep roots in history. Lance R. Blyth’s study of Chiricahua Apaches and the presidio of Janos in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands reveals how no single entity had a monopoly on coercion, and how violence became the primary means by which relations were established, maintained, or altered both within and between communities, to include the Spanish-Mexican settlement of Janos in Nueva Vizcaya, present-day Chihuahua, and the Chiricahua Apaches.

For more than two centuries violence was at the center of the relationships by which Janos and Chiricahua formed their communities. Violence created families by turning boys into men through campaigns and raids, which ultimately led to marriage and also determined the provisioning and security of these families, with acts of revenge and retaliation governing their attempts to secure themselves even as trade and exchange continued sporadically. This revisionist work reveals how during the Spanish, Mexican, and American eras both conflict and accommodation constituted these two communities that previous historians have often treated as separate and antagonistic. By showing not only the negative aspects of violence but also its potentially positive outcomes, Chiricahua and Janos helps us to understand violence not only in the southwestern borderlands but in borderland regions generally around the world.

 The judging committee wrote:

"Chiricahua and Janos begins with the foundational premise that violence can build as much as disrupt communities.  From this premise, it constructs a riveting narrative about how the communities, economies, and families of Chiricahua Apaches and Spaniards at Janos presidio in northwestern Nueva Vizcaya (Chihuahua) became intricately entwined through two centuries of reciprocal violence and accommodation.  Built upon careful research, interdisciplinary source-mining, and convincing arguments, the writing and telling of this story is entirely engaging as Blyth balances the perspectives, purposes, and lifeways of the twin communities forged in a crucible of war."

Lance R. Blyth is the deputy director of the Office of History at U.S. Northern Command and a research associate professor in the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico.

The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is part of SMU's Dedman College and affiliated with the Department of History. It was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.