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Ethnographic Review - Essay Example

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Author’s Name Professor Subject Date The Zapotec Woman: Ethnographic Review Zapotec Woman is an ethnography done by Lynn Stephen. The ethnography explores the intersection of gender, indigenous ethnicity and class in southern Mexico. It provides a detailed analysis of the stereotypically strong Zapotec woman…
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Download file to see previous pages The author undertook the research in mid 1980’s. She travelled extensively in the region, gathering as much information about the community. The women merchants and weavers collaborated with Lynn on the research. The town of focus was Teotitlan in Oaxaca. The ethnography seeks to elaborate how the Zapotec woman has adapted to the oppressive nature of the society, and transformed to a politically and economically minded person (Lynn 3). The economic advancements have also brought about classes within the community by causing economical and societal divisions. Lynn explores ethnicity and class among the Zapotec people utilizing the views of women. From the Zapotec perspective, the construction of ethnicity has two dimensions. These include external and internal version of ethnic identity. External ethnic identity is formulated for consumption by outsiders. This is the external face shown to consumers and tourists. It emphasizes on solidarity of the community and a common claim that their women are the originators of the treadle loom weaving in Oaxaca. The internal version emphasizes participation in cultural institutions and a common language. It is the internal face and is only accessible to people who belong to the community (Lynn 18). The Zapotec have created their own culture which incorporates aspects of Indian and Spanish heritage. Ethnicity is one of the key elements when it comes to the global textile market. Commercial success of the Zapotec textile industry depends on the creation of an identity. The identity of the Zapotec women weavers must appear to be indigenous, traditional and simple. This has led to the attraction of the international market. This is attributed to the fact that people in the textile industry demand authenticity in their goods. The identity created by the Zapotec is unique. However, Teotitlan weavers use technology brought about by the Spanish. This represents integration of Spanish heritage among the Zapotec traditions (Lynn 23). Hence, one can integrate traditional rituals and new technology so as generate better products. Many of Oaxaca’s textile middlemen and producers hail from Teotitlan (Lynn 35). Most of the weavers in these regions are shown to be on a contract basis. This implies that they produce textiles for intermediary brokers. These contract workers are often underpaid. This has led to the formation of cooperatives so as to market their textile products directly to the international market. These are the independent workers. There is a marked difference in the social-economic status of these two. The other issue explored in the ethnography is gender, kinship and globalization. Authority can be classified into two: respect and ritual (Lynn 47). A woman merits respect because of the type of relationship that she forges and because of the way she behaves towards the other in this relationship. Respect determines the ability of a person to hold influence and authority. It is gained by community participation, virtue and increasing age. On the other hand, ritual authority is dependent on kinship ties. Ritual kinship binds the Zapotec weaving women and the merchant in a lifelong relationship. This has led to economic exchanges characterized by interest free loans of goods, labor and cash. This further fosters economic empowerment among the Zapotec woman. The ethnography then recollects the stories of six Zapotec women (Lynn 63). One of them is Julia. She was born in 1929 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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