When we consider the connections between the United
States and the rest of the world, we are so to speak of the
connections, not outside and beyond them. It therefore be-
hooves us as intellectuals . . . to grasp the role of the United
States in the world of nations and of power, from within the
actuality, and as participants in it, not as detached outside
observers . . . The imperial contest . . . is a cultural fact of
extraordinary political as well as interpretive importance, be-
cause it is the true defining horizon, and to some extent, the
enabling condition of such otherwise abstract and groundless
concepts like ‘‘otherness’’ and ‘‘difference.’’ The real problem
remains to haunt us: the relationship between anthropology
as an ongoing enterprise and, on the other hand, empire as
an ongoing concern.—Edward Said, ‘‘Representing
the Colonized: Anthropology’s Interlocutors’’
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long
bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake
such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom
one can neither resist nor understand. . . . I see that it is in-
variably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless
books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences
without meaning, decorative adjectives, and humbug
generally.—George Orwell, ‘‘Why I Write’’
This book arises from the extensive connections between the United
States and Mexico and must account for itself from within the actuality of
global capitalism, U.S. imperial power, and white supremacy. This book
also arises from within the ongoing intellectual enterprise of U.S. anthro-
pology. Thus, it inevitably bears many of the unseemly but indelible
stains that tell of its long and contradictory gestation and delivery, the
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