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Anarchy and Community in the New American West

Madrid, New Mexico, 1970-2000
By Kathryn Hovey



Madrid, New Mexico, is located in an area rich in coal. It was run as a company town from 1919 to the mid-1950s. The resident manager presented it as a model community in order to lure, and guarantee the availability of, willing labor. The mines closed in 1954 and, in spite of the town's beloved Christmas lights displays and Fourth of July parades, Madrid was sold off, piecemeal, in the mid-1970s.
High on the eastern slope of the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque, the town has evolved over the ensuing decades from a ghost town to a tourist attraction in which arts and crafts have replaced coal as the commodity on which all livelihoods depend.
Kathryn Hovey's account of Madrid's evolution examines the town's identities in the contexts of history, government, and the environment. She interviewed many citizens of the 1960s and 1970s, pioneers who rebuilt and reinvented the community. Her account of the problems they encountered provides a lively chapter in the history of New Mexico and of the counterculture. They openly discuss their conflicts over water and fire prevention, issues of drug use, and child rearing.
Hovey sees Madrid as an embodiment of the postmodern West in which tourist enterprises exploit the past. She is acutely articulate on the ironies inherent in the town's reemergence from a community literally owned by the company to one in which dissident hippies hoped to live without social controls.

Contributor Bios
Kathryn Hovey is on the faculty of the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Community College and the department of sociology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.