Maya or Mestizo?: Nationalism, Modernity, and its Discontents

Maya or Mestizo?: Nationalism, Modernity, and its Discontents

by Ronald Loewe

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The Maya of the Yucatán have long been drawn into the Mexican state's attempt to create modern Mexican citizens (mestizos). At the same time, they have contended with globalization pressures, first with hemp production and more recently with increased tourism and the fast-growing influence of American-based evangelical Protestantism. Despite these pressures to turn Maya into mestizo, the citizens of the small town of Maxcanú have used subtle forms of resistance—humor, satire, and language—to maintain aspects of their traditional identity.

Loewe offers a contemporary look at a Maya community caught between tradition and modernity. He skilfully weaves the history of Mexico and this particular community into the analysis, offering a unique understanding of how one local community has faced the onslaught of modernization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442601420
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division
Publication date: 07/15/2010
Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Ronald Loewe is Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Long Beach. His work has been published in a number of journals, including the Journal of American Folklore, American Anthropologist, and Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. He is currently an editor of the journal Practicing Anthropologist.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xxi

Introduction: Nationalism, Mestizaje, and Anthropology 1

Part I Organizing the Polity: Structures of Coercion and Control

Chapter 1 A Town in Yucatán: Maxcanú in Historical and Economic Perspective 15

Chapter 2 The Gremio System: The Social Organization of Religious Life 35

Chapter 3 Making Maya into Mestizo: Identity, Difference, and Cultura regional mestiza 59

Part II Critical Perspectives from Below

Chapter 4 Yucatán's Dancing Pig's Head (Cuch): Parody as a Weapon 81

Chapter 5 The Journey of Way Kot: Myth as Cultural Critique 103

Chapter 6 Caught in the Spirit: Possession, Prophecy, and Resistance 125

Conclusion: Linkages in the Global Economy 143

Appendix: The Tale of Way Kot: Four Versions 151

Glossary 165

Notes 171

References 185

Index 195

What People are Saying About This

Walter Little

Rarely do ethnographers take such a comprehensive and informed look at the places they work as Loewe has in this book. Based on more than 20 years of anthropological research, Mayan language studies, and an active engagement with local cultural and economic processes, this ethnography offers a panoramic view of Yucatán life, history, and politics—all through the very intimate lens of Maxcanú, a small community at the literal, and figurative, intersection of the global economy.
Walter Little, SUNY Albany

Beverly Stoeltje

Pointing to the now familiar processes of strategic essentialism, revitalization of traditions, witchcraft, nostalgia, and resistance that often occur when modernity and indigeneity mix and meet, Maya or Mestizo? exposes the effects of the global economy on the local—the transformation of ritual to theater and the changing meaning of symbols.... Its accessible style and attention to the Mayas' irreverent humor will appeal to undergraduates. Linking parody with national patrimony, the Eagle Witch with commerce, and performance with the presentation of indigenous culture, it will also attract scholars of Latin America, Folklore, Anthropology, and Performance Studies.
Beverly Stoeltje, Indiana University

Paul R. Sullivan

Rich. Insightful. Witty. A real pleasure to read and so well proportioned. A great introduction to life on the Yucatán peninsula today.
Paul R. Sullivan, author of Unfinished Conversations: Mayas and Foreigners between Two Wars and Xuxub Must Die: Lost Histories of a Murder on the Yucatan

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