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​AZ Speaks

AZ Speaks is a long-running and popular program from Arizona Humanities. AZ Speaks presenters represent a diverse range of expertise, from a variety of professional backgrounds including: history, cultural and gender studies, and more.

Browse our calendar for all AZ Speaks programs or see below for more information.

This program is made possible by Arizona Humanities.


​The Ancient Hohokam Ballgame of Arizona

Saguaro Library

The ancient Hohokam culture of Arizona constructed at least 200 ball courts more than 800 years ago. These oval depressions were likely used to play a ball game that originated in southern Mexico, where the game was played with a rubber ball and had a very important role in reenacting the creation of humans in this world. This presentation will describe the recorded Hohokam ball courts located within Hohokam villages scattered throughout Arizona, summarize what archaeologists propose they were used for, and discuss how these public structures may relate to what is known about the Mexican rubber ball games, which are still played today. 

​Hopi Quilting Traditions

South Mountain Community Library
Wednesday, November 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For centuries, Hopi men grew cotton and wove the fibers into blankets and clothing. In the 1880s, with the arrival of Anglo missionaries and government officials, quilting was introduced to the Hopi people and it quickly became integrated into Hopi culture and ceremony with quilts being used in every Hopi household. Hopis today are 4th and 5th generation quilt-makers and as the artistic traditions of two cultures are blended, it is not uncommon to see a quilt with a traditional Anglo pattern and an ancient Hopi image, such as a kachina or a clan motif. This presentation includes a trunk show of Hopi quilts.  Presenter: Carolyn O'Bagy Davis

You Are What You Eat: How Dining Out Defines Arizona

Mesquite Library
Saturday, November 17 from 11 a.m. to noon

When the first dining guide to the Valley of the Sun appeared in 1978, the authors had to explain what “sushi” was. Fast forward four decades, and Arizonans are munching rainbow rolls in shopping-mall food courts. The restaurant business in Arizona now brings in more than $11 billion a year. With stories, statistics and insider tidbits, former restaurant critic Howard Seftel explores the many ways that dining out reflects our evolving culture, as well as shapes it. He explains the rise of independent chefs, the boom in ethnic eating, the push for local sourcing and the growth of Arizona wines. Seftel also offers a rare inside look at the development of food criticism and the Internet’s impact.

​Cowpokes, Crooks, and Cactus: Arizona in the Movies

Mesquite Library
Saturday, December 15 from 11 a.m. to noon

Agave Library
Saturday, December 15 from 3 to 4 p.m.

Tyrone Power, Andy Devine,  Katy Jurado, Steve McQueen and, of course, John Wayne. From the earliest days of film, Arizona has been a setting and subject for hundreds of films. Some, like Junior Bonner and Red River, are considered classics, others, such as Billy Jack and Evolution, surely less so. Some may even be classics in the making, from Tombstone to Near Dark. In this entertaining talk, Gregory McNamee, a frequent contributor on film to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and former columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, looks at the Grand Canyon State on the silver screen.


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