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Rancheros in Chicagoacán

Rancheros in Chicagoacán

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    Rancheros in Chicagoacán
    Book Description:

    Rancheros hold a distinct place in the culture and social hierarchy of Mexico, falling between the indigenous (Indian) rural Mexicans and the more educated city-dwelling Mexicans. In addition to making up an estimated twenty percent of the population of Mexico, rancheros may comprise the majority of Mexican immigrants to the United States. Although often mestizo (mixed race), rancheros generally identify as non-indigenous, and many identify primarily with the Spanish side of their heritage. They are active seekers of opportunity, and hence very mobile. Rancheros emphasize progress and a self-assertive individualism that contrasts starkly with the common portrayal of rural Mexicans as communal and publicly deferential to social superiors.

    Marcia Farr studied, over the course of fifteen years, a transnational community of Mexican ranchero families living both in Chicago and in their village-of-origin in Michoacán, Mexico. For this ethnolinguistic portrait, she focuses on three culturally salient styles of speaking that characterize rancheros:franqueza(candid, frank speech);respeto(respectful speech); andrelajo(humorous, disruptive language that allows artful verbal critique of the social order maintained through respeto). She studies the construction of local identity through a community's daily talk, and provides the first book-length examination of language and identity in transnational Mexicans.

    In addition, Farr includes information on the history of rancheros in Mexico, available for the first time in English, as well as an analysis of the racial discourse of rancheros within the context of the history of race and ethnicity in Mexico and the United States. This work provides groundbreaking insight into the lives of rancheros, particularly as seen from their own perspectives.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79562-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Transcription Conventions
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  7. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-29)

    D. H. Lawrence’s words caution against generalizing experiences or phenomena which in reality are always grounded in particular historical and social contexts. Lawrence himself may have become aware of such grounding, and the cultural variation that it implies, by living in Mexico and thereby coming to perceive a (not the) Mexican view of reality which differed substantially from that of the (particular) English world in which he had been socialized. I pointedly use the indefinite article “a” rather than the definite article “the” in modifying “Mexican view of reality,” since what I have primarily learned over the dozen plus years...

  8. TWO Of Ranchos and Rancheros: The Historical Context
    (pp. 30-58)

    The termranchero, like its literal English translation, “rancher,” conjures up images of rural frontier spaces, horses and cows, and rugged, leathery men (and sometimes women) who take no guff from man or beast. Hollywood cowboy films, featuring John Wayne and others, are replete with these images (Tompkins 1992; Wexman 1993). As Richard Slatta (1990, 191) notes inCowboys of the Americas, “Literary and symbolic evocations of cowboys often show strong transnational similarities. Cowboys are viewed as representing rugged individualism, unbending principle, frontier spirit, and manly courage.”

    Arguing the Spanish origins of cowboy culture, Slatta (1990) compares and contrasts similar...

  9. THREE The Spatial Context: San Juanico, Illinois, and Chicago, Michoacán
    (pp. 59-99)

    Radio announcers on a Spanish-speaking station in the Chicago area frequently ask those who call in: “Where are you calling from?” After the caller responds with, for example, “Chicago,” the announcer asks, “Where are you from in Mexico?” If the caller then says, for example, “Michoacán,” the announcer gleefully shouts,¡Bueno! Y en Chicago, Michoacán, ¿cuál manda? (OK! And in Chicago, Michoacán, what [station] rules?), to which the caller responds,¡La Ley manda! (The Law rules!). La Ley, the most expressively ranchero FM station in the Chicago area, has named itself playfully, with tongue in cheek. “The Law” refers both...

  10. FOUR The Social Context of La Familia: Work, Education, Religion, and Language
    (pp. 100-128)

    In this chapter I describe the people in this social network of families and the primary social contexts in which they live their transnational lives, both in the rancho and in Chicago. This description includes some genealogical information, since the network is organized primarily around nine siblings who are now grandparents, although it also includes several other families with whom some of the sibling-families are closely connected (see Figure 4.1). Because these families interact regularly and intensely, they constitute a dense and multiplex social network (Milroy 1987); that is, members are linked to each other in multiple ways: through kinship,...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. FIVE Rethinking Mestizaje: Racial Discourse among Rancheros
    (pp. 129-159)

    Los Cárabes vinieron de España, los primeros comodetectives. . . .El rey de España los mandó a buscar los restos de un sacerdote o un . . . fraile que había muerto aquí. Le dijeron a dos personas Cárabes, “Tú vas . . . a esa parte, aquí está el mapa, consigues dónde enterraron esos el cuerpo de aquella persona y me traes los huesos.”

    Tenían que investigar ‘ónde había sido, ‘ónde lo . . . posiblemente lo haigan matado o se murió, pero allí lo enterraron. Y el rey . . . o la reina quería los...

  13. SIX Franqueza and the Individualist Ideology of Progress
    (pp. 160-195)

    As discussed in earlier chapters, rancheros often have not been distinguished from other Mexican campesinos. Most research literature in both the United States and Mexico has long ignored the differences among campesinos, either assuming “peasant” to be the significant category (and “Indianizing” all peasants) or distinguishing only betweenindígena(Indian) and mestizo peasants. As illustrated in the previous chapter, however, all mestizo peasants are not alike. The rancheros in this study own (or wish to own) their own land individually, even relatively small parcels; and the valuing of such private property, and the hard work that gained it, is central...

  14. SEVEN Social Order among Rancheros: Equality and Reciprocity, Hierarchy and Respeto
    (pp. 196-222)

    As noted in Chapter 6, rancheros are both intensely individualistic and family-oriented. Although families are the basic unit of their social order, individuals within these units are expected to be able to defend themselves (defenderse) both verbally and otherwise. Men, women, and even children are notably self-assertive in many contexts. As detailed in the previous chapter, they construct this aspect of their identity in their speech throughfranqueza, a way of speaking that is direct, self-assertive, and notably lacking incortesía.

    This chapter further explores social order in this social network of rancheros, discussing the principles and ideologies that traditionally...

  15. EIGHT Relajo as (Framed) Disorder: The Carnivalesque in Talk
    (pp. 223-267)

    Although people in this social network describerelajo(joking or fooling around) as purely for diversion and fun, a close examination of actual instances ofrelajoshows it to be more significant, particularly as it challenges (within a verbal play frame) the existing social order. María Moliner’sDiccionario del uso de español(1998) definesrelajoas (1) the act of permitting oneself an extravagance or unusual recreation, (2) tranquillity and rest (as opposed to work), (3) laxity in the performance of something, (4) disorder and lack of discipline, (5) immorality of customs, and finally (6) a dirty joke (broma pesada;...

  16. NINE Conclusion
    (pp. 268-274)

    In this chapter I summarize key understandings that emerged throughout my years of involvement with this particular community, focusing especially on insights that can better inform teachers and other community workers who interact with ranchero-origin Mexican students and families. Several themes stand out: rancheros as a relatively unrecognized subgroup of Mexicans, the importance of both individualism and familism in ranchero culture, and changes in gender relations. The last theme is linked to the dramatic rise in schooling among females and is abundantly evident in female discourse, either duringrelajoor when commenting explicitly on this topic. I then reflect on...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 275-282)
  18. Glossary
    (pp. 283-284)
  19. References
    (pp. 285-302)
  20. Index
    (pp. 303-312)