Once were indios. Now, we are again! Death and re-birth of indigeneity through cultural performances in Western Mexico
Francesco Zanotelli (University of Messina)
Paper short abstract:
The paper examines comparatively ethno-political processes of localities in Jalisco (Western Mexico): in some places the ethnicity being revitalized and used publicly, in others being hidden and reserved to intimate rituals.
Paper long abstract:
The ethnic identity in Mexico has been historically defined by anthropologists and national institution regarding at the cultural manifestations of specific indigenous groups, taking native language, civil-religious cargo systems and coherent cosmology as elements of distinction from the rest of the national population. In the last forty years the self-identification through political claims in terms of multiculturalism and/or autonomy has become the main way to repositioning the role of indigenous groups, while they are claiming for the right of an ethnic citizenship and a full inclusion based on collective diversity. Based on ethnographic data collected in different localities of the state of Jalisco (Western Mexico), the paper examines the linkage and mutual effects that ritual performances, i.e. especially specific monetary exchanges between villagers during religious festivals, serves to construct differentiated identity in a region in which the historical process of cultural homogenization and the progressive globalization through migration, seem to have borrowed all distinctions. In some of these localities, the recent resurgent of ethnic identity and self-classification in terms of indigeneity, is also strategic to perform ecological struggles. The paper examines comparatively these ethno-political processes confronting the different outcomes they produced: in some places the ethnicity being revitalized and used publicly, in others being hidden and reserved to intimate rituals. The ethnographic regional comparison will drive to theoretical questions about the hypothetical function/continuity/shift that cultural performances can have in the process of rebirth of indigeneity, in places of Mexico often depicted as culturally mestizo.
Self-conscious indigeneity in Latin America