Zapotec Renaissance: Ethnic Politics and Cultural Revivalism in Southern Mexico
The Zapotec Indians, of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, have defied stereotypes of the poor, downtrodden, and exploited Mexican Indians by creating one of the most dynamic indigenous political and cultural movements in Latin America.
The Isthmus Zapotecs are intensely proud of their culture and history, control many local political offices, conduct much of the local commerce, and enjoy a lively cultural movement, which produces fine works of poetry, painting, and music. To a larger degree than is common in Mexico, Zapotec women enjoy equality with men and homosexuality is tolerated and accepted. The Zapotecs have formed a radical indigenous political movement - Coalicion Obrera Campesina Estudiantil del Istmo (COCEI) - whose victory in the 1981 municipal elections in Juchitan, Oaxaca, over the seemingly invincible Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) was the first time the left opposition had controlled a Mexican city since the Revolution.
The Zapotec people of Juchitan packaged their positive social status and strong ethnic identity in a millenarian vision of history celebrating military and political victories over other ethnic groups including the Aztecs, Spanish, French, and mestizo Mexicans. This book is about that history - both past and present - and how it is remembered, drawn upon, and created by contemporary Zapotec intellectuals and politicians and used as a weapon to organize the Zapotec people and to wrest control of their community from PRI.
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