Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World

Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World

CHELEEN ANN-CATHERINE MAHAR
Copyright Date: 2010
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/721920
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World
    Book Description:

    Colonia Hermosa, now considered a suburb of Oaxaca, began as a squatter settlement in the 1950s. The original residents came in search of transformation from migrants to urban citizens, struggling from rural poverty for the chance to be part of the global economy in Oaxaca.

    Cheleen Ann-Catherine Mahar charts the lives of a group of residents in Colonia Hermosa over a period of thirty years, as Mexico became more closely tied into the structures of global capital, and the residents of Colonia Hermosa struggled to survive. Residents shape their discussions within a larger narrative, and their talk is the language of the heroic individual, so necessary to the ideology and the functioning of capital. However, this logic only tenuously connects to the actual material circumstances of their lives.

    Mahar applies the theories of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to her data from Mexico in order to examine the class trajectories of migrant families over more than three decades. Through this investigation, Mahar adds an important intergenerational study to the existing body of literature on Oaxaca, particularly concerning the factors that have reshaped the lives of urban working poor families and have created a working-class fraction of globalized citizenship.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79291-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. TO THE READER
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-11)

    The truth of our society can be understood as well from the bottom as from the top,¹ but the dominant discourse of our “New Gilded Age,”² widely disseminated in late capitalism by those who own the instruments of communication, rests upon an assertion of moral supremacy among the rich. Theorems of these individual achievements, widely believed and endlessly repeated by the rich themselves,³ are also widely agreed to in the broader community. This self-serving language, extolling the virtues of hard work and sacrifice, provides the ideological framework for the globalization process. It is the language of empire and its moral...

  6. CHAPTER 1 COLONIA LIFE IN OAXACA
    (pp. 12-26)

    At 9:45 on a november morning in 1969, Gloria gave birth to her sixth child, a severely deformed little boy who was born with a perfect body, but whose head lacked a crown (partial anencephaly). Gloria herself suffered from the birth and needed blood transfusions. By early afternoon the child had been taken home from the clinic in a box by his aunt via one of the local second-class buses. A box was used because of what neighbors might say about such an ugly child. The family was both embarrassed and horrified. Meanwhile, Gloria lay in her room in the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 CREATING THE OBJECT OF STUDY
    (pp. 27-39)

    In the 1960s isabel and her family were new to the city of Oaxaca; both she and her husband were from indigenous villages in the highlands—one Zapotec, one Mazatec. They met and married in the city of Oaxaca and moved to Colonia Hermosa. By the early 1970s Isabel was working at home making food to sell and sewing dresses for the market. Her husband, with the help of their eldest son, sold popsicles from a cart on the street. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, while many residents of Colonia Hermosa were “moving up” the economic ladder, Isabel...

  8. CHAPTER 3 CONSUELO’S STORY
    (pp. 40-54)

    Consuelo lives separately from her mother on a piece of land that is situated on a rise up from the main road. A piece of the wooden picket fence in front of her house is broken, and she does not have the money to fix it, nor does she want to right now. The house and the land are not in her name, nor in the names of her children. There are three houses on this lot, which is full of medium-sized deciduous trees. It could be a really beautiful setting if the yard was not filled with construction bricks,...

  9. CHAPTER 4 PLACE AND IDENTITY
    (pp. 55-88)

    Material conditions and social identity are closely intertwined. This chapter narrates the establishment of place and the formation of urban identity among the citizens of Colonia Hermosa. The narratives you will read are a testament to this community’s determination and their endless work, and an intimation of their hopes and dreams—for themselves and for their community. Landscape and identity are always intertwined, and the environment of the colonia is no exception. Through their construction of houses and the development of the large compounds that came to contain them over the years, residents reveal their material successes, the fruits of...

  10. CHAPTER 5 WORK, MONEY, AND DREAMS: TRANSFORMING CAPITAL
    (pp. 89-110)

    This chapter explores the world of work and money, as well as the mechanism by which such structures influence the lives and identities of Colonia Hermosa residents. In the story that begins the chapter, Alejandro discusses his work history, how that history has unfolded, and how particular events have led him to his present situation. Alejandro’s words give weight to the central theoretical argument of this book: that our lives are not simply a matter of chance, though chance has its place. Rather, we can claim that our lives are a product of our personal and family habitus, class habitus,...

  11. CHAPTER 6 SOCIAL CAPITAL AS A STRATEGIC CHOICE
    (pp. 111-142)

    Social relations form the basis of social capital, and they are the focus of this chapter. Social capital shapes a field of strategic play that aids in the survival of households and families. But this does not mean that all social relationships are merely strategic: most people are not consciously calculating or cynical in everyday life. Nevertheless, on the basis of friendship, compadrazgo, and basic good will, Colonia Hermosa residents have come together to create bonds that further community, and by doing so, they have formed social connections that help families with day-to-day expenses and support. In the early years...

  12. CHAPTER 7 THE DISENCHANTED WORLD AND THE QUESTION OF SUCCESS
    (pp. 143-153)

    My investigation into the lives of Colonia Hermosa residents asked a classical migration question: “Why do some rural migrants to the city succeed while others, and their children, do not?” I sought to uncover the particular strategies and social logics that could account for the trajectories of the lives of colonia residents over three decades in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. I have concentrated on a comparative account of the life transitions as experienced by a group of key families with regard to two points: their sense of social place, and their sense of their own identities. I have argued...

  13. CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND DISCUSSION QUESTION FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
    (pp. 154-160)

    In the introduction I discuss the book and its main topic, which is the Colonia Hermosa and its residents, by beginning with the termdisenchantment,the change from what was a “natural” world of sociability to one that has been reduced to its economic dimension. I argue that one can understand the transformation from migrant to urban citizen through a process of disenchantment, a concept that is linked to the work of both Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu. I also discuss the importance of positionality with regard to fieldwork and the need for anthropologists to be reflexive in their practice....

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 161-166)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 167-170)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 171-181)