The Grimace of Macho Ratón: Artisans, Identity, and Nation in Late-twentieth Century Western Nicaragua
In this creative ethnography Les W. Field challenges a post-Sandinista national conception of identity, one that threatens to constrict the future of subaltern Nicaraguans. Drawing on the works and words of artisans and artisanas, Indians, and mestizos, Field critiques the national ideology of ethnic homogeneity and analyzes the new forms of social movement that have distinguished late-twentieth-century Nicaragua. As a framework for these analytic discussions, Field uses the colonial-era play El Güegüence o Macho Ratón and the literature relating to it.
Elite appropriations of El Güegüence construe it as an allegory of mestizo national identity in which mestizaje is defined as the production of a national majority of ethnically bounded non-Indians in active collaboration with the state. By contrast, Field interprets the play as a parable of cultural history and not a declaration of cultural identity, a scatological reflection on power and the state, and an evocation of collective loss and humor broadly associated with the national experience of disempowered social groups. By engaging with those most intimately involved in the performance of the play—and by including essays by some of these artisans—Field shows how El Güegüence tells a story about the passing of time, the absurdity of authority, and the contradictions of coping with inheritances of the past. Refusing essentialist notions of what it means to be Indian or artisan, Field explains the reemergence of politicized indigenous identity in western Nicaragua and relates this to the longer history of artisan political organization. Parting ways with many scholars who associate the notion of mestizaje with identity loss and hegemony, Field emphasizes its creative,
productive, and insightful meanings. With an emphasis on the particular struggles of women artisans, he explores the reasons why forms of collective identity have posed various kinds of predicaments for this marginalized class of western Nicaraguans.
This book will appeal to readers beyond the field of Latin American anthropology, including students and scholars of literature, intellectual history, women's studies, and the politics of ethnicity.
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Agustin analysis anthropologists Arellano artesanas artisanal production artisans authors Bracamonte Brinton Cardenal Cardenal's Catalina century ceramics cerdmica negra cerdmica negra women chapter Co-op colonial Cuadra cultural identity cultural policy Davila Bolanos dinista Diriamba Diriomo discourse domination Don Forsico Dona economic El Giiegiience Ernesto Cardenal essay ethnic ethnographic feminist Flavio Frente Frente's gender Giiegiience Giieguence groups Guegiience Gueguence Indian indigenismo indigenous indigenous communities indigenous identity indigenous movement interpretations Jinotega La Malinche labor language Latin American literature Macho Raton Managua Mangue Mantica Maria Esthela Masaya Matagalpa mestizaje mestizo Ministry of Culture Monimbo Nahuatl nation-building national culture Nica Nicara Nicaraguan culture Nicaraguan history Nicaraguan intellectuals Nicaraguan national identity organizations Pablo Antonio Cuadra parable Pineda play political post-Sandinista pots pottery pre-Columbian raguan relationship Revolution revolutionary role San Juan San Juaneros Sandinismo Sandino sectors social movements socios Somocismo Somocista Somoza Spaniards Spanish struggle Suche-Malinche Sutiava tion transformation unadi western Nicaragua