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Maya or Mestizo?

Maya or Mestizo?: Nationalism, Modernity, and its Discontents

Ronald Loewe
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Maya or Mestizo?
    Book Description:

    Loewe offers a contemporary look at a Maya community caught between tradition and modernity. He skilfully weaves the history of Mexico and this particular community into the analysis, providing a unique understanding of how one local community has faced the onslaught of modernization.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8697-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xx)
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. INTRODUCTION Nationalism, Mestizaje, and Anthropology
    (pp. 1-12)

    In brief, my objective is to write a scholarly but readable ethnography of Maxcanú, Yucatán (a Maya town of 15,000) that demonstrates both the importance of regional, national, and global influences on community life and the creation of a new, thoroughly modern, and thoroughly Mexican citizen. Since the Mexican Revolution (1915–25)¹ there have been several concerted attempts by federal and state authorities to incorporate Yucatán’s Mayan-speaking population into larger administrative structures and to promote identification with the nation-state. Recruitment campaigns by political parties like the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its predecessors, the expansion of public education especially since...

  7. PART I Organizing the Polity:: Structures of Coercion and Control

    • CHAPTER ONE A TOWN IN YUCATÁN: Maxcanú in Historical and Economic Perspective
      (pp. 15-34)

      InTradition and AdaptationIrwin Press mentions that he decided to do fieldwork in the village of Pustunich, Yucatán because he was offered a drink as soon as he arrived. While this may be as good a reason as any, my decision to work in Maxcanú, a mestizo town of approximately 15,000 people, was based on a different set of considerations, some practical—such as the availability of housing—and some guided by my research objectives. Maxcanú not only has its own archive, a poorly preserved collection of worm-eaten documents dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, but is a short...

    • CHAPTER TWO THE GREMIO SYSTEM: The Social Organization of Religious Life
      (pp. 35-58)

      Since the mid-1960s, the study of religious confraternities in southern Mexico and Guatemala, known variously as cargo systems, civil-religious hierarchies, or cofradías (brotherhoods), has been a veritable growth industry (see, for example, Annis 1996; Bartolomé and Barabas 1982; Brandes 1988; Cancian 1965; Carlson 1996; Cook 2000; DeWalt 1975; Fernández Repetto and Negroe Sierra 1997; Nash 1970; Nutini 1968; Reina 1966; Slade 1973; Tedlock 1982; Watanabe 1992). A 1990 article by John Chance, which makes no pretense of being exhaustive, contains data from no less than 23 ethnographies of Mesoamerican cargo systems published between 1965 and 1986. If one were to...

    • CHAPTER THREE MAKING MAYA INTO MESTIZO: Identity, Difference, and Cultura Regional Mestiza
      (pp. 59-78)

      If not a topic of perennial concern, discussion of ethnic relations in Mesoamerica is certainly never far from the surface of intellectual life. Like debates over exchange in the western Pacific, cannibalism in the Amazon, and hierarchy in the Indian subcontinent, discussion of ethnic relations in Mesoamerica seems to follow a natural rhythm, re-emerging every 17 to 20 years and eating everything in sight before vanishing as quickly and mysteriously as it appeared. In the 1940s and 1950s ethnographers (Tax 1942; de la Fuente 1951) not only attempted to draw a clear conceptual distinction between ethnicity and race but to...

  8. PART II Critical Perspectives from Below

      (pp. 81-102)

      One of the standard features of Mesoamerican ethnography is a chapter describing the annual fiesta held to honor the patron saint of a town or village (Friedlander 1975; Hansen and Bastarrachea Manzano 1984; Smith 1977; Vogt 1969; Watanabe 1992). Thanks to the formative influence of anthropologists like Robert Redfield and Alfonso Villa Rojas in Yucatán, and the Harvard Chiapas Project of the 1960s, one can find dozens of descriptions of village fiestas spanning the last half-century. As noted in Chapter Two, anthropologists have also expended a great deal of energy and ink describing and analyzing the religious organizations—cafadías, gremios,...

    • CHAPTER FIVE THE JOURNEY OF WAY KOT: Myth as Cultural Critique
      (pp. 103-124)

      As many anthropologists have discovered, strange and wondrous things occur at the margins of the world system where different economies collide. Airport runways suddenly appear in the rain forests of Papua New Guinea (Worsley 1986 [1968]); stories of the devil are heard with increased regularity on coffee plantations in Colombia’s Cauca Valley (Taussig 1980); real estate in “Manhattan” can be purchased at rock-bottom prices (Graeber 2001); and tales of buried treasure break like news items in Michoacán, Mexico (Foster 1967). Little wonder, perhaps, that surrealists and ethnographers have time and again found inspiration in each other’s work (Clifford 1988).


    • CHAPTER SIX CAUGHT IN THE SPIRIT: Possession, Prophecy, and Resistance
      (pp. 125-142)

      Two things stand out in the recent literature on spirit possession. The first is that it appears to be increasing on a global scale. Although one might expect a reporting bias in the ethnographic literature reflecting the growth of transcultural psychiatry and medical anthropology in recent decades, Erika Bourguignon (2004) insists that anthropological interest is easily matched by a changing reality on the ground. The growth of spirit possession has been fostered not only by the emergence of new religions such as New Age spirituality and the renewal of mystical traditions within older religions (e.g., exorcism) but also by the...

  9. CONCLUSION Linkages in the Global Economy
    (pp. 143-150)

    As I write the conclusion to this long story at California State University, the state continues to slide further into the abyss. Funding for education is being slashed, faculty and staff are being furloughed and laid off, there are no office supplies in the workroom, and it won’t be long before our phones are shut off or removed from our offices. The crisis deepens my empathy for the people I lived with during my fieldwork (beginning in 1985) who were hit first by the neoliberal reforms ushered in during the De La Madrid administration (1982–88) and then by the...

  10. APPENDIX The Tale of Way Kot: (Four Versions)
    (pp. 151-164)
    (pp. 165-170)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 171-184)
    (pp. 185-194)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 195-202)