Ladrilleria featured a talk by anthropologist and photographer Scott Cook on the industry, history, and makers of handmade brick in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. These molders of handmade brick, like other members of their craft throughout Mexico, share with the adobe makers the occupational expediency of preparing raw material, tierra mexicana (Mexican earth), barefooted. Unlike adobe, however, brick (ladrillo) is transformed through kiln firing into a ceramic product.
Scott Cook, Ph.D., taught anthropology at Michigan State University and at the University of Connecticut where he also directed the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Institute. His most recent books are Handmade Brick for Texas: A Mexican Border Industry, Its Workers, and Its Business (Lexington Books, 2011) and Understanding Commodity Cultures: Explorations in Economic Anthropology with Case Studies from Mexico (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). In 2001 he edited a series of essays entitled "The Mexican Connection in the Southwestern Borderlands—Trends and Prospects” (Journal of the West, Vol. 40, No. 2), and in 1998 he published Mexican Brick Culture in the Building of Texas, 1800s–1980s (Texas A & M University Press). His next book, Land, Livelihood, and Civility: Oaxaca Valley Communities in History, will be published by the University of Texas Press in early 2014.
The Ladrillería series is sponsored by Texas State’s Center for the Study of the Southwest, the Wittliff Collections, the Departments of Modern Languages, History, Anthropology, and Finance and Economics, and the College of Applied Arts.