Accepted paper:

A utopian configuration of culture: indigenous Otomí idealism in Mexico and its exotic expectations


Sergio Gonzalez Varela (Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I discuss the idealism found among Otomí indigenous intellectuals in Mexico concerning their cultural traditions. It focuses on the concept of cultural utopia as a means to create a deliberate and exotic expectation of the other.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation is about the cultural utopia developed by indigenous Otomí intellectuals of central México. It is concerned with the creation of a particular idealism about authenticity, ancestry and cultural heritage. It centers on the data provided by a key "informant", "Don Pancho" whose main role in the last twenty years has been to offer ethnographic information to different anthropological and historical investigations about Otomí culture. In this paper I discuss the extent of Don Pancho's argument concerning the ideal value of his culture, and his deliberate attempt to conform to an ideal expectation of the other and the sublimation of the anthropological encounter. It also explores his multiple interventions in art and ritual innovation as a way to perpetuate the exotic perception of Otomí culture by anthropologists. In essence, the paper reflects on the tension between the romantic view of the other and the expectations that the other (Don Pancho) has about academic research collaboration.

panel P063
Anthropological utopias: debating personal, political and idealist expectations in the intersection of theory and ethnographic practice