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Yalalag is no longer just Yalalag : circulating conflict and contesting community in a Zapotec transnational circuit

Click to view the dissertation via Digital dissertation consortium
Author Gutierrez Najera, Lourdes.
ISBN/ISSN 9780549174066
Broad Subject American studies
Social work
Summary This dissertation in anthropology and social work examines a political schism that consumed Yalaltecans throughout 1998. As an important feature of Yalaltecan historical memory, the conflict calls for a historical analysis. Yet, this study suggests that this most recent episode of conflict is different. Although factionalized conflict among Yalaltecans may appear to have been primarily about political power between several caciques or political strongmen, it is more fundamentally about competing ideas of development and progress that threaten traditional institutions like tequio labor that have been defining elements of the community. The dissertation suggests that migration has contributed to recent transformations challenging these traditional institutions.

To frame the discussion, conflict is examined as a process rather than event thereby providing a historical framework for examining Yalaltecan disputes. This framework also calls attention to the role played by the state in the production of conflict. Mexican state processes including the "civilizing missions" of education, postrevolutionary nationalism and notions of mestizaje, as well as economic policies of development shape contending ideologies of progress and modernity held by members of Yalalag's two factions. Furthermore, the study's historical account of state practices, economic changes, and migration provides more nuanced understandings of conflict, and the possibilities for their resolution. These findings will contribute towards new trends in social work practice that further understandings of transnational processes.

Discerning this new dimension of Yalaltecan conflict necessitated a transnational framework for analysis. A transnational approach sheds insight into the ways that conflict---and indeed "el conflicto"---was circulated and reproduced within a circuit that exists betweenYalalag, Mexico and Los Angeles, California. Yet, even as the political schism took on a transnational character splitting Yalaltecan loyalties into two factions, in a counter-current this rift also reproduced a sense of community---of Yalaltecaness---that held them together. The discourse that circulated in the transnational circuit was crucial in securing a sense of Yalaltecan locality. Ultimately, the conflict provided a social space where contested notions of community could be negotiated.

The dissertation is based on a multi-sited ethnographic research conducted between Yalalag, an indigenous village in the state of Oaxaca, and Los Angeles, between 1995-2002.

Language English
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