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May 12, 1997

Anthropologist's documentary on Mexican rodeos to air Monday, May 19

Professor encourages teachers and others to tape the broadcast for educational and personal use

By Jennifer McNulty

The premiere broadcast of La Charreada! Rodeo a la Mexicana, a 27-minute documentary about Mexican rodeo, will take place on Monday, May 19, at 10 p.m. on Channel 68, KTEH-TV, San Jose's public television station.

The documentary provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the traditions of Mexican rodeo. Interviews with more than a dozen rodeo participants capture the vital cultural link that "la charreada" represents in the United States for Mexicans and Mexican Americans. The program was written, produced, and directed by Olga Najera-Ramirez, an associate professor of anthropology at UCSC. It was produced in collaboration with KTEH-TV.

The program recently garnered a Silver Apple Award in the 1997 National Educational Film and Video Festival. Najera-Ramirez, who is not distributing the video commercially, encourages educators to videotape the program and use it as a tool in classrooms.

"I am giving viewers blanket permission to tape this show off the air for educational and personal use," said Najera-Ramirez, who is eager to share her research with the public. "My mother won't read an academic journal, and I don't blame her, but she'll turn on the TV and watch an educational program on charreada."

The "charreada" tradition emerged in Mexico during the 16th century and enjoys a strong following on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border today. In addition to showcasing the sport of horsemanship and roping, it offers a popular, culturally rooted, family-based form of entertainment that continues to inspire poetry, music, painting, and dance, said Najera-Ramirez, whose documentary also touches upon some of the criticisms waged by animal-rights activists.

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