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UNM Spanish scholar receives national recognition

Enrique R. Lamadrid, distinguished professor emeritus of Spanish at the University of New Mexico, talks about his work during a May 2 interview. Lamadrid was recently announced the winner of the Enrique Anderson Imbert, a national prize of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Enrique R. Lamadrid describes his area of expertise as “all the untold, forgotten stories.”

But the stories are family history to many New Mexicans.

Lamadrid, a distinguished professor emeritus of Spanish at the University of New Mexico, has done ground-breaking research into genízaros – descendants of Native American tribes who were taken as captive in the 1700s and 1800s and ultimately assimilated into New Mexican culture – during his more than 30-year career at the university. His forthcoming book on the subject, “Nación Genízara,” is due out this fall.

Lamadrid’s decades of academic work and evolution into an authority in his field hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Last month, Lamadrid won the Enrique Anderson Imbert, a national prize from the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.

“It was like lightning out of blue sky,” the 70-year-old scholar said of receiving the honor. “… The people on the list who have gotten (the award) are all-stars. I never think of myself as an all-star. I just do my work and have as good of time as I can.

“This is big for UNM. It’s a huge honor and it’s a reminder … of the diversity of our students.”

“It was like lightning out of blue sky,” UNM scholar Enrique R. Lamadrid says about receiving the prestigious Enrique Anderson Imbert. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The academy said in a news release that the award was the most prestigious that it has granted since 2012. It is intended to recognize contributions to research, projects and publications on the diffusion of the Spanish language, literature and Hispanic cultures in the United States.

Lamadrid describes his position at UNM as his “dream job.”

Born in Embudo and raised in Albuquerque, Lamadrid did his undergraduate work at UNM before obtaining a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Southern California in the late 1970s. He returned to UNM in 1985 as an assistant professor. These days, he holds the title of emeritus professor with an office at the UNM Press, which has published some of the books he has written throughout his career.

“This was the dream job,” he said, “coming back to my alma mater.”

Lamadrid’s research priorities and interests include Hispanic folklore, music and ethnopoetics. His résumé includes 12 books, 26 articles and 23 book chapters, among other publications, and travels, including with UNM students, to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Central and South America.

His books include “Amadito and the Hero Children,” a bilingual children’s book about influenza epidemics in New Mexico, and “Nuevo México Profundo: Rituals of an Indo-Hispano Homeland,” in which he collaborated with photographer Miguel Gandert to document the rituals of people of indigenous and Spanish descent in New Mexico.

“It’s a very old place and a very complicated place,” he said of Hispanic studies in New Mexico. “In the Spanish department (at UNM) there has always been a strong Latin American component and the New Mexico component. … Hispanic culture is as strong (in New Mexico) as it is anywhere in Latin America, or anywhere where people are speaking Spanish.”

In announcing the award, officials with the Spanish language academy said Lamadrid should be recognized for his contributions to the knowledge of the Spanish language in the United States, including in New Mexico.

“His teaching profile is that of an educator of researchers who has trained his students in field work, joining theory with praxis to illuminate analysis and documentation,” Carlos Paldao, the secretary of the competition, said in announcing the award. “It is evidence that professor Lamadrid has made seminal contributions to the knowledge of the Hispanic cultural roots and heritage in the southwest United States.”

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