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Made in Mexico

Tradition, Tourism, and Political Ferment in Oaxaca

Chris Goertzen

Publication Year: 2010

This book concerns the aesthetic, political, and socio-political aspects of tourism in southern Mexico, particularly in the state of Oaxaca. Tourists seeking "authenticity" buy crafts and festival tickets, and spend even more on travel expenses. What does a craft object or a festival moment need to look like or sound like to please both tradition bearers and tourists in terms of aesthetics? Under what conditions are transactions between these parties psychologically healthy and sustainable? What political factors can interfere with the success of this negotiation, and what happens when the process breaks down? With Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatistas still operating defiantly in the area, these are not merely theoretical problems.Chris Goertzen analyzes the nature and meaning of a single craft object, a woven pillowcase from Chiapas, thus previewing what the book will accomplish in greater depth in Oaxaca. He introduces the book's guiding concepts, especially concerning the types of aesthetic intensification that have replaced fading cultural contexts, and the tragic partnership between ethnic distinctiveness and oppressive politics. He then brings these concepts to bear on crafts in Oaxaca and on Oaxaca's Guelaguetza, the anchor for tourism in the state and a festival with an increasingly contested meaning.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Contents

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pp. v-

Preface [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. vii-xiii

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1. Introductory Case Study: Tales Told by a Pillowcase from Chiapas

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pp. 3-34

A beautiful pillow rests on a chair in our home in Louisiana. I bought the pillow’s colorful cover in May 1997, in the far south of Mexico, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the only sizable city in the highlands of Chiapas. My trip to the highlands was partly a happy accident. Air fares to Cancún were absurdly...

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2. Crafts and Tourism in Oaxaca

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pp. 35-73

Indian hunter-gatherers lived in Oaxaca as early as twenty thousand years ago and added agriculture to their strategies for survival as early as 7000 BC. The “three sisters” that sustain many peasants today—corn, beans, and squash—have been staples for at least as long as villages have existed, that is, since about 2000 BC. To hunt they had spears and bows and arrows...

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3. Tradition and Tourism in Festival Life: Shaping and Marketing Oaxaca’s Guelaguetza

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pp. 74-103

On two Mondays each July, the indigenous populations of the state of Oaxaca collaborate with the state tourist board and various cultural organizations to present the country’s most spectacular festival, the Guelaguetza. A dozen or more dance troupes from all over the state, accompanied by either their own small...

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4. Southern Mexican Contemporary Traditional Culture That Is Little Affected by Tourism

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pp. 104-134

What can we learn about living tradition from the apron a woman wears as she sells produce in a southern Mexican market, from the shopping basket in which a customer carries some of that produce away, from the words adorning the truck that brought the saleswoman and her family’s crops to town, and even from the music playing on that truck’s radio? These illustrate down-home,...

5. Things Fall Apart: Attacks on Tourism in Oaxaca and the Prospects for Recovery

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pp. 135-171

Notes

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pp. 173-175

References

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pp. 177-183

Index

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pp. 185-192


E-ISBN-13: 9781604737974
E-ISBN-10: 1604737972
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604737967
Print-ISBN-10: 1604737964

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2010