Every Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, you’ll see countless reproductions of a garish skeleton with a wide, toothy grin, wearing an extravagant hat.

Known as "La Catrina," the image can be traced to José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican engraver who died in obscurity in 1913. His broadsides featuring uncanny skeletons were sold for pennies to working-class Mexicans.

In a story of patronage, propaganda and globalization, Arizona State University cultural historian Mathew Sandoval details how Posada’s “Catrina” was transformed from the subject of cheap prints into a transcultural icon who has appeared in parades and been featured on everything from beer cans to Barbie dolls.

This week we also liked articles about the frequency of lying, the drought drying up the Rio Grande and the oil company CEO who will preside over the upcoming international climate talks in Dubai.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

A girl dressed as a ‘catrina’ takes part in the Catrinas Parade in Mexico City to celebrate Day of the Dead. Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images

How ‘La Catrina’ became the iconic symbol of Day of the Dead

Mathew Sandoval, Arizona State University

An obscure Mexican engraver named José Guadalupe Posada created the satirical skull in the early 1900s and sold it for a penny. But after he died, it took on a life of its own.

The Sultan of Swat turned every stadium into a cathedral, and home runs into a sacrament. Bettmann via Getty Images

Babe Ruth, patron saint of the home run, turned the ball field into a church – and lived his own Catholic faith in the spotlight

Rebecca T. Alpert, Temple University

Ruth’s headline-grabbing home runs helped his sport recover from scandal, while his own story helped combat anti-Catholic prejudice.

The Rio Grande, viewed from the Zaragoza International Bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Vianey Rueda

The Rio Grande isn’t just a border – it’s a river in crisis

Vianey Rueda, University of Michigan; Drew Gronewold, University of Michigan

When the Rio Grande figures in US news reports, it’s usually in relation to stories about immigration, drug trafficking or trade. But the river is also an important water source – and it’s shrinking.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    Forty-one states and the District of Columbia sued internet giant Meta on Oct. 24, alleging that the company designs its products with features that do what?

    1. A. Gather private info
    2. B. Harm young people
    3. C. Encourage hate speech
    4. D. Rate the hotness of Harvard students

    Test your knowledge