First of all, I want to note that the book was reprinted in in its original Spanish and that there has been no translation of it whatsoever. Before discussing the value of again reprinting De eso… in the future or aiming for translation into another language, let me state that it is the reprint of the book that makes it worth revisiting. Between and and from to the present, a lot has changed in Mexico as a political formation and society.
Anthropology is no exception.
All those changes ought to be considered as healthy developments, in that one is no longer tied to hubristic ideas of patrimony and centralization. In what some cultural historians Joseph et al. This included all professions. Important for my discussion here is the manner in which generations between and were formed in the context of an expansionist juggernaut that menaced with its flattening powers all that stood in its way.
Whether the juggernaut was as menacing and the flattening as severe as people once projected has now become a matter of contention. What seems unquestionable is that most people living and working in Mexico at the time considered it to be so. The official policy of integrating indigenous populations aimed at their acculturation through different means. Of course, they had been integrated as labor forces and labor reserves since colonial times, but the middle part of the twentieth century presented the opportunity to accelerate their proletarianization.
By presenting a thorough critique of the contradictions in the process, the authors helped open a new generational horizon of counter-politics as defined by Smith From to , cultural and political confrontations in Mexico aimed at expanding the spaces outside of state control.
The period began with the student massacre of and ended in with the contradictory integration of the North American common market through NAFTA and rise of the Zapatista insurgency. The multiplicity of demands Laclau of this civil society were not all new; some had been nursed since indeed, but they coalesced behind albeit not exclusively Zapatismo. Given its proxy narco civil war, Mexico has been under a permanent state of exception since The reprint of the book led me to take this detour because I consider it important to keep in mind the different structures of feeling Williams of the diverse audiences to which the book speaks and with which it dialogs.
Currently, the capital contains five doctoral programs in anthropology plus a growing number of M. With the growth of anthropology and the extension of anthropological training to the provinces, that is no longer the case.
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During my formation as an undergraduate — in Mexico, Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter , edited by Talal Asad in , and Decolonizing Anthropology , edited by Faye Harrison in , were used to highlight its shortcomings as a critical project. The different conditions under which each project was produced underlined the narrow contours of thinking the world from Mexico City. Moreover, the contribution this Mexican anthropology made to the broader anthropological literature was scant. Yet before delving into those comparisons and their residual excesses, let us consider an odd feature that marked both the original edition as well as the later reprint: the lack of an introduction.
The lack of an introductory essay—the Nuestro Tiempo edition includes a presentation that says little more than that anthropology is relevant to the resolution of great national problems—has the effect of forcing readers interested in understanding how the papers were written and the decision to print them together to recur to anecdote, oral tradition, common sense, and the cult of the elders.
Were the articles products of a conference or political event or did they involve an intervention on the part of a group of young guns intent on stirring up student dissatisfaction? The common thread that runs throughout the book is ambiguity. On the one hand, all the articles push for a critical social anthropology, clearly separated from ethnology and archeology by the imperative that anthropologists go, see, document, question and debate beyond Indigenismo.
Indigenismo reduced a potentially vibrant and promising discipline to a series of procedures that could be transmitted to technicians in order to ensure the complete domination of indigenous peoples by an illegitimate state. All five articles deliver the above message loud and clear.
At the same time, they leave almost untouched the pretension and shame that this same Indigenismo is what passed then and now for Mexican anthropology. The fate of Mexicaness is left to the reader to figure out. But the authors failed to explain what a specifically Mexican anthropology might look like. There he would rub elbows and schmooze figuratively with Asad and others, moving his anthropology away from Indigenismo as a state practice of control and in the direction of a full-fledged anthropological tradition of elaborated thought.
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