Accepted paper:

Horses, shamans and mushrooms: articulation of identity practices and economic circuits in the Sierra Mazateca (Mexico)


Marcos Garcia de Teresa (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

Using the case study of hallucinogenic mushroom trade and horse racing in the town of Huautla de Jiménez in the Sierra Mazateca, I will discuss how identity practices are organized and are inseparable from certain economic activities.

Paper long abstract:

The analysis of horse racing and shamanic tourism in the Sierra Mazateca will allow me to show how local population uses very diverse economic strategies and can sometimes be on the margins of legality. This case study allows me to analyze the ways in which individuals are placed and adopt different strategies depending on the context of interaction in which they are located, whether it is the family, their neighbors, the inhabitants of the region or tourists. According to the political and economic circumstances people face, they may adopt different registers of self-presentation. They may adopt an ethnic register to sell a ceremony for tourists or as an alibi against the prohibition of mushrooms, or they may adopt a self-presentation similar to nationalist stereotypes to fit into the regional political networks and negotiate in horse racing. I would like to highlight the different modes of identification - ethnic, regional or national - that are present in this area, and show how this plurality of identifications - which may be competing - gives players some flexibility. The objective of this presentation is to see how identity practices are a resource used by the inhabitants of Huautla de Jiménez during their interactions with tourists and regional elites.

panel P107
Forms of government and everyday economic practices: ethnography and comparison