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Migration, Mujercitas, and Medicine Men: Living in Urban Mexico

Valentina Napolitano
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Migration, Mujercitas, and Medicine Men
    Book Description:

    Valentina Napolitano explores issues of migration, medicine, religion, and gender in this incisive analysis of everyday practices of urban living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Drawing on fieldwork over a ten-year period, Napolitano paints a rich and vibrant picture of daily life in a low-income neighborhood of Guadalajara.Migration, Mujercitas, and Medicine Meninsightfully portrays the personal experiences of the neighborhood's residents while engaging with important questions about the nature of selfhood, subjectivity, and community identity as well as the tensions of modernity and its discontents in Mexican society.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92847-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction: Prisms of Belonging and Alternative Modernities
    (pp. 1-16)

    London 1989, pre-fieldwork: a teacher at University is asking me a question. What is there of “original” interest about the people and the city of Guadalajara, where I will soon begin fieldwork? These people seem to him like many others caught up in the process of Latin American urbanization: there are millions of them. My tentative response is that there are various aspects of their lives and constructions of selfhood that I could engage with and later write about. His response: there are many people in the world, but in order to “make” anthropology, we need to find special sociopolitical...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Internationalizing Region, Expanding City, Neighborhoods in Transition
    (pp. 17-38)

    I have been asked more than a few times why I initially chose to carry out my fieldwork in the Guadalajara area and, in particular, the neighborhood of Lomas de Polanco (hereafter referred to as Polanco). I was drawn to the dusty streets with bending trees, fighting for life, and the patchy colorful houses that reminded me of Burano Island in Venice. And at first I imagined Polanco to be an island in a tight archipelago of the economic, social and spatial matrices of Greater Guadalajara.

    The colonia is actually south of the city, close to the old industrial area....

  8. CHAPTER 2 Migration, Space, and Belonging
    (pp. 39-68)

    The migration experience and migrants representations of space and time are parts of the learning processes. This learning is not only about gains, but also about losses. In this chapter I explore the prisms of belonging that emerge in the relationship between urban and rural space by capturing some of the heterogeneous perceptions, feelings, desires, contradictions, and images that shape experiences of space and time both at personal and family levels. Spaces are associated with particular ways of being and moral beliefs, which shift in relation to the contexts in which they are perceived. Ways of talking about experiences in...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Religious Discourses and the Politics of Modernity
    (pp. 69-95)

    This chapter continues to focus on self-consciousness, representations, and embodiment of migrant and urbanization experiences via a close examination of the micro-politics of negotiation of knowledge that creates axes of belonging, affiliation, inclusion, and exclusion. I analyze here the ways in which the Catholic Church is represented in terms of metaphors of “new” and “traditional” by lay members and the clergy, and how the creation of a “popular subject” (as its empowerment via the experience of community organization within popular religion [Levine 1992, 1993a]) is part of a narrative of identity.¹

    The analysis is centered both on the grassroot movement...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Medical Pluralism: Medicina Popular and Medicina Alternativa
    (pp. 96-127)

    Religion, science, and the medicalization of illness always interweave in a dialectical and processual way. The imagery used by those who have been dispossessed as well as empowered through migration reveals how illnesses are treated. People’s experiences and the conflicts in the colonia regarding medicine invite us to revisit the meaning of both medicine and religious activism in light of a national health care system that is struggling to deliver services, and a religious movement that promotes a vision of social healing.

    In colonias populares, activism is an important part of the way medical options and healing processes are understood...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Becoming a Mujercita: Rituals, Fiestas, and Religious Discourses
    (pp. 128-155)

    The work of imagination and its transformation of everyday cultural practices is an important feature of modernity. Falling in love and courtship can be a great work of imagination and transformation. One day in her small hairdresser’s shop a young woman, Elsa, recalled the day she celebrated her fifteenth birthdaywith a major fiesta in the village where her parents and husband are from: “I felt fulfilled, and it is better than the wedding celebration because you are innocent about many things, and now I see all the good and bad. . . . At the fifteenth birthday celebration, you are...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Neither Married, Widowed, Single, or Divorced: Gender Negotiation, Compliance, and Resistance
    (pp. 156-180)

    Mastery of representation can no longer be achieved (Taussig 1993: 237), but I hope I have been engaging the reader in the promised unfolding and interlinking of different levels of ethnographic analysis. This final chapter recalls the tension surrounding the writing of an anthropological urban study on identity focusing on processes of subject formation and knowledge negotiation, but without doing away with the phenomenological dimension of experience altogether.¹ As I pointed out in the previous chapter, gender processes are a looking glass that highlights tensions of modernity, its local, mundane, everyday openings, and also one way to engage with both...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 181-188)

    When Don Domingo addressed me in this way, I realized that something had shifted in the way he related to me, and the way I related to the culture he spoke from. I suddenly experienced a sense of home in the language, and a joking but warm recognition of similarity between us; we were co-experiencing our convergencies. I felt I could flow and play with it, and let parts of me emerge in the process. It also reminded me of how we inhabit different me(s) when we abide in the spaces of different languages.

    Dwelling on a co-experiencing of convergencies...

  14. APPENDIX A: Homeopathic Principles
    (pp. 189-190)
  15. APPENDIX B: Trees of Life and Death
    (pp. 191-194)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 195-216)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-236)
  18. Index
    (pp. 237-240)