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Globalization in Rural Mexico

Globalization in Rural Mexico

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    Globalization in Rural Mexico
    Book Description:

    When the ever-intensifying global marketplace "modernizes" rural communities, who stands to gain? Can local residents most impacted by changes to their social fabric ever recover or even identify what has been lost?

    Frances Abrahamer Rothstein uses thirty years of sustained anthropological fieldwork in the rural Mexican community of San Cosme Mazatecochco to showcase globalization's complexities and contradictions.

    Rothstein's lucid work chronicles the changes in production, consumption, and social relations during three distinct periods: the Mexican "miracle," when economic development fueled mobility for a large segment of the population, including San Cosme's worker-peasants; the lost decade of the 1980s, when much of what had been gained was lost; and the recent period of trade liberalization and globalization, considered by many in Mexico and beyond as a panacea and a disaster at the same time.

    After Mexico's textile industry decline in the late 1980s, some families of former textile workers in San Cosme opened home workshops-talleres-and a small-scale, textile-based economy took root. These families, who managed to prosper through their own trade and industry, demonstrate that those who rely on consumer demand for their livelihood need not always follow the dictate of the marketplace, but rather can position themselves assertively to influence alternative economic possibilities held close to their culture.

    Employing rich ethnography and broad analysis, Rothstein focuses on how everyday life has been transformed by these processes, but shows also how important continuities with the past persist. She strikes a delicate balance between firmly grounded scientific study and a deep compassion for the subjects of her work, while challenging contemporary views of globalization and consumption.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79546-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Anthropology and Globalization
    (pp. 1-22)

    When I first went to San Cosme Mazatecochco, a rural community in the state of Tlaxcala in central Mexico, in 1971, there were only a few small stores, and they sold just some fruits and vegetables, canned sardines, cigarettes, soda, beer, and candy. A few daily buses traveled the unpaved main street to a nearby highway and then on to the city of Puebla about ten miles away. Today, hundreds of the town’s residents own cars, buses, and taxis, andconvis(minivans) travel the many paved streets and the new highway that run through the community. Numerous stores in San...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Mexico and the World
    (pp. 23-42)

    In a recent discussion of anthropological community studies, June Nash comments that when she first went to Amatenango, a rural community in Chiapas in the late 1950s, it was easy to see why anthropologists accepted the residents’ view that the community was the center of the universe (2001, 33). In her analysis of Amatenango, she found it was not possible to see the community without considering its larger context, but within it there were “no telephones, buses, or newspapers to distract people with an imagined nation or world beyond that” (2001, 33).

    When I first went to San Cosme in...

  6. CHAPTER 3 From Peasants to Worker-Peasants to Small-Scale Flexible Producers
    (pp. 43-62)

    Don Juan Sánchez¹ is a fifty-five-year-oldcampesinoand one of the few men in San Cosme who has never been a factory worker. An only son, he and his wife, Doña Mercedes, inherited their house and about three hectares of land from his parents and three hectares of land from her parents. For many years while his mother was alive, they worked her three hectares as well as their own land. His mother, along with Don Juan, Doña Mercedes, and their four children, lived primarily off the production of their land. Their subsistence was supplemented by the sale of some...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Flexible Garment Production
    (pp. 63-80)

    Beginning in 1989,talleres, or home workshops that manufacture clothing of various sorts, began appearing in San Cosme. Most were started by former factory workers or by workers who anticipated that their factories might close. Within ten years, hundreds of workshops were founded by people with varying work experiences, including former factory workers, professionals, andcampesinos/as. The workshops range from households with two machines, to which cut pieces are delivered by local contractors and sewn by family members, to households with thirty or forty workers and many different machines, which produce the fabric and garments and sell the finished products...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Making It in the Garment Industry
    (pp. 81-108)

    Doña Gloria, a vivacious and attractive woman who was in her early forties in 2001, is one of the more successfultallerowners. In the late 1970s, she was one of the small but growing number of employed young women in the community. She worked for a few years as a hairdresser in Puebla before she married. Then she stopped working for pay and had a child. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband separated. She went back to paid work in the early 1980s, this time as a factory worker in amaquiladorain Tlaxcala where women’s undergarments were made...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Illusions and Disillusions: Challenging Consumption Theory
    (pp. 109-140)

    When I first went to San Cosme in the early 1970s, there were no telephones, only a few televisions, some blenders, and many radios. Most people had one or two outfits they put on for special occasions, but for daily wear they used clean but worn clothing. Many walked barefoot or inhuaraches(handmade sandals) or plastic shoes. Women and older girls wore braids, aprons, and traditionalrebozos(shawls made of sturdy cotton) in which they often carried bundles or children. Men and sometimes women wore straw sombreros. Houses usually consisted of a smoke kitchen (an adobe room with a...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Still Struggling: Development and Globalization in Rural Mexico
    (pp. 141-160)

    Globalization theories stress connections and flows of capital, people, things, images, and ideas. Unlike some observers of globalization, I have assumed that although the nature of the links have changed, important connections have existed among different communities and peoples of the world for thousands of years.¹ During the last two centuries, the rise and spread of capitalism, initially through colonialism and more recently through development and globalization, increased and intensified these connections. In this book I show how connections between the residents of San Cosme and people elsewhere multiplied and deepened during the last three decades, the period corresponding to...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 161-172)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 173-188)
  13. Index
    (pp. 189-194)