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Zapotecs on the Move

Cultural, Social, and Political Processes in Transnational Prespective

Adriana Cruz-Manjarrez

Publication Year: 2013

Through interviews with three generations of Yalálag Zapotecs (“Yaláltecos”) in Los Angeles and Yalálag, Oaxaca, this book examines the impact of international migration on this community. It traces five decades of migration to Los Angeles in order to delineate migration patterns, community formation in Los Angeles, and the emergence of transnational identities of the first and second generations of Yalálag Zapotecs in the United States, exploring why these immigrants and their descendents now think of themselves as Mexican, Mexican Indian immigrants, Oaxaqueños, and Latinos—identities they did not claim in Mexico.

Based on multi-site fieldwork conducted over a five-year period, Adriana Cruz-Manjarrez analyzes how and why Yalálag Zapotec identity and culture have been reconfigured in the United States, using such cultural practices as music, dance, and religious rituals as a lens to bring this dynamic process into focus. By illustrating the sociocultural, economic, and political practices that link immigrants in Los Angeles to those left behind, the book documents how transnational migration has reflected, shaped, and transformed these practices in both their place of origin and immigration.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-5


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pp. vii-6

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pp. ix-xii

I could not have written this book without the exceptional help, trust, and support of many people. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude, appreciation, and respect for la Gente de Yalálag who live in Los Angeles, Oaxaca City, and Yalálag. I think of every Yalalteco/a who informed and helped me to develop...

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pp. 1-19

On a day in late November 2000, a Yalálag Zapotec friend of mine, José, invited me to attend a community event in Los Angeles; there Yalaltec immigrants joined together to raise funds for the annual patron saint fiesta of Santiago Apóstol and the reconstruction of the saint’s barrio cultural center in the Yalaltecos...

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Chapter 1. The Yalaga Zapotecs: A Town of Immigrants

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pp. 20-44

Zapotec migration into the United States is not a new phenomenon. It started in the first half of the twentieth century and continues until now. In Los Angeles, the Zapotec community is composed of various Zapotec immigrant village communities from the Central Valleys and the Sierra Norte and the Sierra Sur...

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Chapter 2. Building Community and Connections in Los Angeles

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pp. 45-68

At first hearing, I thought, “This joke is more than just a joke.” Of course, the joke may not have any significant meaning for the reader, or it may represent only a humorous story. However, I find that the narrative of the joke about the saints provides an exceptional record of the social and cultural processes that have...

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Chapter 3. Community Life Across Borders

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pp. 69-96

During the celebration of the major mass of San Antonio de Padua on June 13, 2004, in the village of Yalálag, Father Adrian spoke, saying: “We must thank all the people who have made possible the fiesta for San Antonio de Padua. This fiesta could not have been done without the collaborative work between local...

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Chapter 4. Yalalag Zapotec Identities in a Changing World

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pp. 97-124

Zapotec, or ben’zaa, means “people from the clouds.” Being Zapotec, according to the Zapotecs, signifies the collective identity of people who are born within this group and behave, affiliate, and act according to Zapotec mores.1 The Yalálag Zapotecs use three terms to distinguish themselves according to region. Those who live in El Valle are usually referred to as ben raghe, which means “people ...

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Chapter 5. Indentities of the Second-Generation Yalalag Zapotecs

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pp. 125-152

Everyday throughout Los Angeles, second- generation Yalálag Zapotecs negotiate and reframe their sense of identification as American, Mexican, Oaxaqueños, and Yalaltecos.1 They grow up hearing from their parents that they are Americans citizens of Mexican descent because they are born in the United States and...

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Chapter 6. Danzas Chuscas: Performing Status, Violence, and Gender in Ozaxaca California

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pp. 153-173

Danzas chuscas are parodic dances performed in indigenous and mestizo villages throughout Mexico, and date back to as early as the 1930s (de la Fuente 1949). In Yalálag, Yalaltec non-immigrants dance Yalálag danzas chuscas during patron saint celebrations, a time when many Yalaltecos who have immigrated to...

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Chapteer 7. Community and Culture in Transnational Perspective

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pp. 174-189

At present, religious fiestas and cultural practices such as dance and music continue to be as essential to the social life of the immigrant community in Los Angeles as they are to Yalaltecos in Yalálag. In both places, scores of Yalaltecos come together to honor the Yalálag patron saints. The fiestas create special...

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pp. 190-197

Migration movements around the world are part of human history. However, what distinguishes contemporary migration movements from previous largescale migrations are political and ethnic conflicts, natural disasters, and, most notably, the increased social and economic inequalities between people living...

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pp. 198-207

I conducted this study in two localities—the city of Los Angeles, California, in the United States and the Zapotec village of Yalálag, Oaxaca, Mexico. In Los Angeles, I spent long evenings and entire weekends in areas where the Yalalteco study participants live and socialize: Koreatown, South Central Los Angeles, the Pico...


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pp. 209-224


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pp. 225-228


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pp. 229-242


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pp. 243-249

About the Author

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pp. 250-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780813560724
E-ISBN-10: 0813560721
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813560717

Page Count: 268
Illustrations: 9 halftones, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 831118226
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Zapotecs on the Move

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Zapotec Indians -- Mexico -- Hidalgo Yalálag -- History.
  • Zapotec Indians -- Mexico -- Hidalgo Yalálag -- Migrations.
  • Zapotec Indians -- Cultural assimilation -- California -- Los Angeles.
  • Rural-urban migration -- California -- Los Angeles.
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