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The Purposive Historian

The Purposive Historian



In 2007, as I was writing a law review article about legal disputes among survivors regarding ashes of cremated decedents, my good friend and col- league, Professor Elena Maria Marty-Nelson, suggested I contact Professor Michael A. Olivas. She had read a personal account that Michael had posted on the Latino/a Law Profs Listserv that was relevant to my piece. She also was fairly confident that Michael would be amenable to my using His story in the article. I had never met Michael nor had I ever had the occa- sion to otherwise communicate with him either by telephone or email. So I was hesitant. How would he react when a stranger calls him to talk about His father's passing? I went ahead and called Michael, and I was truly pleased I did. We hit it off right away. We spoke about ourselves a bit, and he told me he had an aunt with the same name as me, Eloisa, so he would not forget who I was (lucky for me he loved his aunt). In the end, just as Elena had predicted, Michael was delighted that I wanted to include his post about his father in my article and immediately agreed. Thus my article begins as follows.

Several years ago, Professor of Law Michael A. Olivas underwent some inner emotional and religious turmoil concerning his father's death. Professor Olivas wrote: Before my father, Sabino Olivas, a great chilero, died, he left clear oral instructions to me that his ashes were to be spread on his chile plants. He died following a car accident in 1998. I was the executor of his will, and I was required to make a solomonic choice-he was also a lifelong Catholic, and Catholics may be cremated but their ashes are to be interred in consecrated ground. What is el hijo mayor to do? Do first son obligations trump fiduciary obligations? ls a chile plant "consecrated" ground, under [New Mexico] law? ls this a case of habeas corpus? So l took a pinch of ash and sprinkled it on the plants in the backyard, and l buried the rest in his grave in the Santa Fe Military Cemetery.



Publication Date



Carolina Academic Press


Durham, NC


Cultural pluralism, Emigration and immigration law, Law teachers, United States, Biography, Olivas, Michael A.


Immigration Law | Law

The Purposive Historian