Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

The process of writing this book has involved many people. Foremost among them is Heather Sinclair, Antonia's and my friend, who joined us in conversations in 2005 and 2006, and enters the narrative at several points. Heather gave intensive feedback on early drafts, and I am indebted to her for her ...

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Prologue

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pp. ix-xvii

My backpack and duffel bags sit by the door, bulging with what remains after paring down to essentials. I couldn't bring myself to eliminate any gifts. They are my most important cargo, a way for me to reconnect with friends and share something with them from El Norte. This time I'm carrying photos of my godson ...

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Background Notes

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pp. xix-xxvi

Antonia's story starts with Chapter 1. The background notes below describe the main contexts of our work on this book and key challenges we faced in respect to language issues, the politics of representing another's life, and gathering and assembling the material. Readers who would rather continue ...

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Notes on the Book’s Two Voices and Key Terms

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pp. xvii-29

The two voices in this book, mine and Antonia's, have been differentiated by the typesetter in order to help readers keep them separate. Where needed for context, I provide details of where and when Antonia talked about a specific topic, or the time period in which I wrote portions of my ...

People in Antonia's Life

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p. xxix

Time Line of Key Events Mentioned in the Book

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pp. xxxi-xxxii

Map of Highland Chiapas

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p. xxxiii

Part I: Becoming a Batz'i Antz (True Woman)

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Chapter 1. A Childhood Memory

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pp. 3-4

When I was a little girl I got sick with an illness. I don't know what they call it. I don't know if I was six or eight years old. My whole body swelled up. I was going to die from swelling. My hair fell out, and when it began to grow back it was coarse and thick. Each morning I felt so ...

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Chapter 2. Parents

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pp. 5-8

Over the years I had heard bits and pieces about Antonia's childhood, especially about her father's drinking and the lack of food. None of what I heard was remarkable, not even the story of her illness. Most everyone in Chenalhó remembers some illness that almost killed them. Everyone has experienced ...

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Chapter 3. Learning to Work

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pp. 9-12

Since I was a little girl, the only chore that I liked in my life was to carry water and wash clothes at the waterhole. But to work in the milpa, carry firewood, I didn't like that. When I first learned to wash clothes, I really didn't know how. The dirt didn't come out and my ...

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Chapter 4. School

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pp. 13-18

Primary school was a time of exhilaration for Antonia. School, more than anything else in her early life, fueled her desire to find her own way of being in the world, different from that of her mother and other women in the community. Schooling in highland Chiapas ...

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Chapter 5. Making One's Soul Arrive

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pp. 19-26

In 2006, when we were working on this book at Heather Sinclair's home in El Paso, Antonia quietly announced,"Since I was a little girl, I always knew I had value." Antonia's affirmation of her own worth didn't seem strange to me in that moment, but later I thought about how odd those words would sound ...

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Chapter 6. Listening to the Word of God

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pp. 27-30

Antonia didn't read the Bible or learn about the life of Jesus Christ until later in her teens. "Making her soul arrive" before that time involved respecting people, working hard, and reciprocating with the Maya deities and Catholic saints in a variety of household and communal rituals. The aim of these rituals was to maintain ...

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Chapter 7. Courtship and Marriage

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pp. 31-34

Antonia married Domingo when she was eighteen in the traditional bride petition process, joyol, with a few new twists influenced by Domingo's involvement in the Word of God. The ceremony included reading some verses from the Bible and inviting a group of men to play their guitars and sing hymns.1 Domingo was very ...

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Chapter 8. Learning to Be a Wife

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pp. 35-42

This evening Antonia comes as close as I have ever seen her to slamming the lids on the pots on the fire. She and Domingo have just had a fight about money. I sit as small as I can on my little chair near the fire, trying not to make any more problems for her. Memories of similar scenarios involving pots on my stove and fights over ...

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Chapter 9. Learning to Be a Mother

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pp. 43-48

Antonia has six children, and none of them has died. While living with her, I never took this fact for granted. Among forty-five women I interviewed in a household survey in a neighboring community in 1988, twenty-five had lost seventy-five children between them. Antonia attributes her children's survival ...

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Chapter 10. Learning to Manage a Household

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pp. 49-54

By the time I came to live with Antonia in 1987, she was a married woman with three children. She was an experienced cook and household manager whose competence with the tasks of daily life often made me envious. Her movements around the fire reminded me of a dancer making each outstretched hand ...

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Chapter 11. Animals

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pp. 55-56

Animals are an integral part of Antonia's life and household economy. Before Antonia first came to my home in New Mexico in 2002, I worried about how she would feel about how we treat our cats and dogs like members of the family. I shouldn't have been surprised that she became a cultural relativist par excellence in relation ...

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Chapter 12. Water [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 57-60

Our pump stopped working today. No water. I've only been back from Chiapas a month, and already I'm so dependent on running water that I can't imagine going a day without it. It's Saturday, and we worry that no one will come to fix our pump on the weekend, especially in the rural area where we live. I find the section in the yellow pages ...

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Chapter 13. Working with Coffee

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pp. 61-66

In the mid-1980s Antonia and Domingo began to plant coffee with hopes that it would provide a more stable source of cash than they had found selling animals or bananas and other produce. When the plants were still young, the couple had great hopes of selling their coffee at a good price, even though ...

Part II. Contesting the Status Quo, Creating a Different World

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Chapter 1. The Time of Fire

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pp. 69-74

By 1962, when Antonia was born, most indigenous people in highland Chiapas made a living by alternating between farming corn and beans on family owned plots and working for wages for a few months at a time on Ladino or foreign-owned plantations. Leaving their home communities to pick coffee or cut sugarcane provided ...

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Chapter 2. 1997

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pp. 75-80

The violence that began in Chenalhó in 1996 and culminated in a massacre at the end of 1997 was the direct result of the spread of a low-intensity war in Chiapas. A major component of this war was the creation and maintenance of paramilitary groups in communities such as Antonia's with large bases of support for the ...

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Chapter 3. International Encounters

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pp. 81-88

In the years right after the uprising in 1994, the Zapatistas organized several intercontinental gatherings that Antonia and Domingo attended as part of their participation in their local support base. Domingo was more enthusiastic about these meetings than Antonia. She almost didn't go to the meeting she describes below ...

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Chapter 4. Sons

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pp. 89-98

All the seats are filled in the University Museum at New Mexico State University as Antonia, on her first visit to the United States, narrates a slide show about life in her community. She didn't know what a slide was until we put the show together last night, and tonight she is giving her first public talk to a group of foreigners ...

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Chapter 5. Daughters

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pp. 99-112

I'm advising my daughters about how to take care of the house and to weave so that in the future they can earn some money like me. My mother taught me to weave and embroider, and my daughters are learning what she taught me. I don't remember how old Paulina was when I began to teach ...

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Chapter 6. Daughters-in-Law and Grandchildren

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pp. 113-114

Becoming a mother-in-law increased the number of people under Antonia's guidance. For a couple years both Magdalena and Juana lived with her. Initially Antonia didn't look forward to being a mother-in-law, but becoming a grandmother soon followed, and Antonia embraced this role fully. Felipe and Magdalena had a ...

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Chapter 7. Cargos

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pp. 115-122

As an academic, stepmother, and grandmother, my story is the story of most women in the United States who struggle to balance work and family. At times our struggle is so self-absorbing that it can come as a surprise when we learn that poor women in "developing countries" confront similar challenges. I came to Chenalhó valuing ...

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Chapter 8. Cooperatives

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pp. 123-128

In 1987 Antonia and Domingo worked with about twenty other members of the Word of God to start a general store cooperative in the headtown of Chenalhó. To my knowledge, this was the first cooperative in Chenalhó's history. I enjoyed hanging out in the store with ...

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Chapter 9. Traveling

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pp. 129-136

In fall 2002 I had a sabbatical from teaching and was thrilled for the chance to bring Antonia to New Mexico and give her the opportunity to get to know people from a different nation in their own cultural and social contexts. Bringing Antonia to the United States was a project with many steps. The first was obtaining funding ...

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Chapter 10. The International Folk Art Market

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pp. 137-144

Antonia's second visit to New Mexico was in 2005 in order to attend the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. Las Cruces-Chiapas Connection held numerous fundraisers in the spring of 2005 to raise the money to bring Antonia to represent two weavings cooperatives, Tsobol Antzetik and Mujeres ...

Part III. Gains and Losses, Lessons Learned

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Chapter 1. Envy

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pp. 147-152

During my initial fieldwork I found that talking about envy and witchcraft with Pedranos was difficult. Most people acknowledged that it was a part of life, but many in the Word of God and Protestant religions seemed to feel ashamed of it, to regard it as a part of their ancestral heritage better forgotten. Nevertheless, envy ...

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Chapter 2. Suffering

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pp. 153-158

When I was conducting research in the 1980s, I accompanied Antonia and other Pedrano friends as they crossed geographic and ethnic boundaries. Traveling from their rural communities to the city of San Cristóbal, they entered a cultural world where indigenous people were second-class citizens. I was haunted by stories ...

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Chapter 3. A Difficult Trip

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pp. 159-166

Antonia's words break my concentration as I tally earnings from the weavings we've sold over the past two weeks. She's leaning toward me, a wry smile on her lips as her eyes widen and then narrow. Although she laughs a little as she speaks, we both know that she means what she says. She is rarely ...

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Chapter 4. Faith and Love

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pp. 167-174

Antonia didn't have a cargo dream calling her to work in the Word of God, as her husband did. When Domingo was still single, he would often get drunk and end up in jail for fighting. One day not long after leaving jail, he met a catechist who invited him to enter the church to hear the Word of God. Although Domingo didn't ...

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Chapter 5. Exodus

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pp. 175-184

The phone rings. It's Alberto, Antonia's son and my godson. I haven't heard from him in a while. He's in North Carolina now, in Cherokee country. Each time he moves to a new place, I wish I could help him get to know the people, especially now, when he's around other Native Americans. But he tells ...

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Chapter 6. Death

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pp. 185-188

Of all the topics in this book, death embodies how alike, yet different, Antonia and I are. One of the greatest differences between us is that death is much more a part of Antonia's life than it is of mine. Antonia never lost a child, which makes her fortunate among women in her community. But since childhood she has spent ...

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Chapter 7. Life So Far

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pp. 189-195

A writer from the New Mexico State University Communications Department wrote an article about this book when I was finishing the first draft. Daniella Deluca tried her best to present the complexities of Antonia's life in her article and was not in charge of what happened to it after it left her desk. The day it came ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 197-198

In June 2010 I went to Chenalhó to go over the final draft of Antonia's words with her and catch up on all the changes in her life since my last visit in early 2009. As this book goes to press in 2010, Antonia and her family are continuing their passage over the Earth. Felipe now lives in a new ...

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Afterword

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pp. 199-207

Antonia's story is part of the larger story of how Chiapas and Mexico are changing in this era of globalization and, especially, the important roles of women in these changes. Her words speak to the particular ways that women are creating and bearing witness to change, and in the process expanding their ...

Appendix A. Antonia's Words to Alberto

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pp. 209-210

Appendix B. Life Histories from Chiapas and Other Places

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pp. 211-212

Notes

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pp. 213-222

Glossary

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pp. 223-224

References

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pp. 225-232

Index

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pp. 233-244