21st Century kinship meets globalized aging in an indigenous Mexican community
Jay Sokolovsky (University of South Florida St. Petersburg)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the intersection of globalization with aging and cultural models of kinship and family, in an indigenous Mexican community. It details the dramatic changes in modeling kinship and family ideology, including powerful new narratives of elderly abandonment.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the intersection of globalization with aging and cultural models of kinship and family, viewed from 40 years of research in a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous Mexican community. The central linguistic trope in this community for modeling kinship and family is the tochantlaca, those linked, in a kin network to the walled central house compound and land controlled by the oldest couple. In 1972, membership in a tochantlaca was bounded by deferential and quite formal hand-kissing ritual toward older kin and authoritarian relations across generations. Beginning in the 1980s as globalization began to seriously impact the region, house compound walls began to be taken down, symbolically marking how generational ties were altering. Part of this change has to do with a greater equality between generational kin formations, the gradual replacement of an ideology of authority with that of love, but also increased conflict between male siblings in this patrilineal system. Intertwined with this has been the assumption of greater power of females within kin groups and the community. In the past decade, there has emerged a dramatic transformation in the local narratives about kinship, aging and generation. These include stories of abandonment of the elderly, youth's rejection of indigenous culture and the system of respect. The conclusions propose a connection to similar developments in other parts of the non-Western world especially in India and Africa and a way to understand how my observations on the ground in recent years, provide a counter to the claims of this new narrative.
Re-conceptualising kinship and relatedness in an ageing world [MAN]