Crafting Mexico

Crafting Mexico➲ [Read] ➭ Crafting Mexico By Rick A. Lopez ➽ – After Mexico’s revolution of 1910–1920 intellectuals sought to forge a unified cultural nation out of the country’s diverse populace Their efforts resulted in an “ethnicized” interpretation After Mexico’s revolution of – intellectuals sought to forge a unified cultural nation out of the country’s diverse populace Their efforts resulted in an “ethnicized” interpretation of Mexicanness that intentionally incorporated elements of folk and indigenous culture In this rich history Rick A López explains how thinkers and artists including the anthropologist Manuel Gamio the composer Carlos Chávez the educator Moisés Sáenz the painter Diego Rivera and many less known figures formulated and promoted a notion of nationhood in which previously denigrated vernacular arts—dance music and handicrafts such as textiles basketry ceramics wooden toys and ritual masks—came to be seen as symbolic of Mexico’s modernity and national distinctiveness López examines how the nationalist project intersected with transnational intellectual and artistic currents as well as how it was adapted in rural communities He provides an in depth account of artisanal practices in the village of Olinalá located in the mountainous southern state of Guerrero Since the s Olinalá has been renowned for its lacuered boxes and gourds which have been considered to be among the “most Mexican” of the nation’s arts Crafting Mexico illuminates the role of cultural politics and visual production in Mexico’s transformation from a regionally and culturally fragmented country into a modern nation state with an inclusive and compelling national identity. Where did our modern notions of Mexico’s national identity come from Its identity was not as most people might guess simply passed down from one generation to the next Rather certain aesthetic values were perpetuated by the intersecting forces of nationalist policies and transnational intellectuals who sought to ethnicize the people of Mexico in a modern nation In Crafting Mexico Rick Lopez shows how changes in aesthetic values encouraged by intellectuals artisans and the government after the Mexican Revolution were the main force in the building of and changes in Mexico’s national identity and culture the so called “mexicanidad”Before Mexico’s post revolutionary nationalists embraced indigenous culture their predecessors despised it ignored its complexities and blindly attempted to impose European style modernity on it not so unlike the “modernization” in the United States against Native Americans or the imperialist domination of Africa The popular class retaliated against their political exclusion and a revolution occurred giving rise to a new nationalist leadership that wanted to unify Mexico’s disparate regions and languages by setting up national highways and a system of education and establish a new inclusive national identity The identity could not be formed through language as Mexico was divided into many languages and conseuently nor could it be formed through the printing press or mass media Art was the tangible property left for the new elite to unite the country under a new identity Further these changes in Mexico’s identity had implications at the local level such as how the demand for particular styles of art impacted the practices of local artists and their relationship to the state in order to supply the increased demand for “authentic” works Taken together these changes which took place before the rise of mass media occurred in a very short time period and they were the basis for Lopez’s examination of a cultural revolution in Mexico and the formation of a modern nation statePart I of the book explored examples of how “cosmopolitan” intellectuals those influential persons who returned to Mexico after the revolution with ideas from abroad about nation building and the government promoted the formation of a new aesthetic The first example centered on a 1921 beauty competition the “Indian Bonita” that was run by an influential newspaper Their selection of fifteen year old Maria Bibiana Uribe who exemplified the image of the “authentic” Indian aesthetic sent a new message to popular classes you could be both Indian and beautiful The second example dealt with a state operated public exhibition of popular art organized by cosmopolitan intellectuals The selection of art reflected a new criteria for what represented “authenticity” in popular art and demonstrated that not all indigenous art was looked upon favorably by the state or intellectuals The main attraction of the event turned out to be a highly staged and choreographed routine “in which over a hundred by some accounts as many as six hundred colorfully adorned chinas poblanas and charros burst into modernized renditions of the jarabe tapatio and other folk dances” Lopez reveals that the event while marketed as an exhibition of authentic Mexican art was not much than an amusing act This chapter revealed the flaws inherent in trying to come up with such a criteria that the boundaries between what was “indigenous” and what wasn’t were unclear “Returners looked upon their homeland through a novel intellectual prism that reveled in national distinctiveness” states Lopez 93 The returners did not respect the indigenous population but rather tried to co opt it into their own image of authenticity The remaining examples in Part I showed how the intellectuals foreign nationals and the state further expanded the aesthetic revolution through support of popular art in museums the Ministry of Education and investment in cultural programsWhereas Part I gives a macro perspective on the changing aesthetics in Mexico Part II gives a bottom to top perspective through an in depth investigation of how the state and markets for indigenous art impacted the community of Olinala Guerrero While space does not permit a full discussion of this section an explanation of one of the major findings is given belowCrafting Mexico is undeniably an academic book It is an exhaustive study that draws on both modern ethnographic and sociological research as well as primary accounts of individuals and the writings of social critics during the postrevolutionary period While Lopez is a historian he also takes on the roles of anthropologist comparing the indigenous culture of Mexico with the culture of cosmopolitan intellectuals and art historian uncovering the history of the Olinaltecan lacuer Hundreds of references are included in the bibliography including archival collections newspapers and periodicals and published scholarly worksLopez’s evidence is compelling and is used effectively to support his theses For example in the last chapter “The Road to Olinala” Lopez claims that artisans in Olinala Guerrero were able to circumvent the elite brokers dealing in “authentic” art and establish their own economic ties to Mexico City It would have been straightforward to show this through trading and property records but the municipal archives in Olinala representing 450 years of records were destroyed in the 1950s Through interviews with Olinaltecos Lopez discovered that these records were destroyed to cover up corruption in which oligarchs at the time unfairly acuired the land of artisans leading to political instability and ineuality Lopez uses secondary sources records from the Ministry of Education and a report from a state anthropologist Maurilio Munoz to show that uneual access to land caused major ineualities in nutrition access to water education and housing Through his interviews Lopez was able to reconstruct the first ties between Olinala artisans and Mexico City starting with a hotelier in the mid 1930s who transported items with burros in secret collusion to the growing solidarity among artisans in the 1960s when they became connected to museum officials and later the Bank for the Development of Cooperation which relieved the artisans’ dependence on merchants and moneylenders The reconstruction of these events which provide crucial evidence of how nationalist policies promoting the production of “authentic” art disadvantaged lacuer production in Olinala would not have been possible without these extensive interviews combined with the observations of the late ethnologist Alejandro Wladimiro who made detailed observations about various aspects of daily life in the region Elsewhere in Crafting Mexico Lopez uses rigorous scholarly sources as evidence for historical informationWe observe that indigenous cultures cannot be understood by placing them into categories and trying to impose foreign values upon them Integration of cultures cannot be forced without conflict and ineuality This is particularly true as greater numbers of indigenous cultures around the world feel pressure to conform to their states’ imposition of neo liberalismOne of the fundamental assumptions in Crafting Mexico is that national identity is socially constructed In the case of Mexico aesthetics were the shared social practice and source of knowledge that changed people’s ideas about what it meant to be Mexican But Lopez differed from sociologist Benedict Anderson who developed the concept of “imagined communities” in that he did not consider language and print to be a significant aspect of Mexico’s transformation because differences in language between regions would have made it difficult for Spanish texts of the Creole for example to have made a broad impact on rural communities Anderson’s work on nationalism has been widely cited in the literature and has enabled the significant work of Latin American historian Serge Gruzinski Lopez’s departure from the idea that language is the only path to nationalism should provide future anthropologists with a starting point for studying nation building in regions where language barriers and shared practices such as art coexist The opening chapters gave a fascinating glimpse into the arts indigineity and the formation of Mexican national identity The history of the India Bonita contest subtly referenced in the recent film Roma was engrossing Some chapters however focused on the bureaucracy of changes in foundations and organizations and these are less likely to interest a general audience This is a wonderful indepth account of the development of Mexican craft in the 20th century with a particular focus on lacuerware Many of the issues I thought were recent turn out to be endemic in modern Mexican craft such as the flood of Chinese imports The books ends a little abruptly in the modern period

Paperback  ✓ Crafting Mexico Epub ¼
  • Paperback
  • 424 pages
  • Crafting Mexico
  • Rick A. Lopez
  • English
  • 28 May 2015
  • 9780822347033