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Presentation explores Mexican banditry

There was talk of banditry in the Student Union yesterday afternoon.

Amy Robinson, an assistant professor in the department of romance and classical studies, discussed her research on Chucho el Roto, an infamous Mexican bandit.

Chucho el Roto, whose real name was Jesus Arriaga, was a “thief from Mexico City during the 1880s,” Robinson told the group. He was a bandit much like Robin Hood as he was known for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, said Robinson, who has spent time researching Arriaga.

“A political rebel trying to change the government could be branded as a bandit [in the nineteenth century],” Robinson said.

In her research, Robinson compared several pieces of literature on Arriaga in order to discern fact from fiction about the Mexican bandit.

These are the “true stories” of Chucho el Roto, Robinson said with a laugh. The information listed in the books cannot be proven to be true. The only thing Robinson has found as proof of Arriaga’s adventure was an arrest report.

“The arrest report allows me to think [the books] are facts about him,” said Robinson.

Robinson first began studying Arriaga when she was writing her dissertation on Mexico City.

She was studying a particular novel about banditry and it was recommended to her to read up further on the concept of the bandits.

“Some of the most important nineteenth century novels are about bandits,” Robinson said.

Studying bandits became a way for Robinson to connect the different time periods in Mexico.

“It gave me a sense of Mexico’s cultural and historical phases,” she said.

Mexican banditry became popular around the time of the Mexican Revolution, Robinson said.

Robinson’s talk attracted nearly an audience of 50, with about 75 percent being students.

While some students attended in order to fulfill class requirements, others just found the topic interesting or relevant to their studies.

Lance Loreno, a senior dual majoring in Spanish and education, attended the presentation to hear his old professor, Robinson, speak.

“I’m not getting extra credit by being here. I’m here because it’s cool and Amy knows a lot about Mexico,” Loreno said.

Other students, however, were present due to class assignment. Emily Miller, a senior education major, must attend five cultural events for credit in her world literature class. Chris Taylor, a senior majoring in English, was not only fulfilling a requirement for his post colonial literature class, but he was also taking pictures for the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society.

Robinson’s presentation was sponsored by this group, an organization dedicated to understanding cultural history, reshaping studies in the humanities and the arts in the context of contemporary thought and promoting work across disciplines.

Other upcoming ICS presentations include Andy Schocket, “King’s Crossings: Boston King’s Atlantic World Revolution,” “Resisting Illness and the Disabling Mode: Possibilities in the Visual/Verbal Realm” and “The Cold War, Academe, and Nigerian Elites, 1960-2000.”

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