S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) 국제지역연구 국제지역연구 vol.05 (1996)
멕시코 종족 문제의 역사적 배경과 오늘날의 상황
The Historical Development of Ethnicity in Mexico and Its Local Meanings in the Contemporary Society
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 지역종합연구소
- 지역연구, Vol.05 No.2, pp. 69-92
- Due to the multi-dimensional nature of ethnicity, it may not be easy to discuss the problems of ethnic identity in Mexico. The Mexican state is faced with the dilemma of contradictory policies towards indigenous people. On the one hand, it promotes the indigenous heritage for national integration. On the other hand, it denounces the Indianness by incorporating them into the dominant hegemonic culture which includes or accentuates indigenous traditions. This kind of discourse about ethnic identity was also problematic in the colonial period. The Conquistadores glorified and degraded indigenous customs at the same time. Mexican ethnic problems were originated in the representation of the past colonial policies of miscegenation and Latinization. Naturally, contemporary ethnic conflicts are closely related to past and present ethnic situations.
Since the Mexican revolution, the production and reproduction of national ethnic identity in Mexico has been completely monopolized at the nation-state level. But the inconsistent and ineffective efforts of the Mexican government have resulted in more complicated ethnic relations. Nowadays, indigenous groups in Mexico are so diversified and heterogeneous that it is very difficult to define adequate ethnic identity socioeconomically and politically. The new discovery of indigenous identity in recent years, represented by the emergence of various political organizations, led the way to redefine Indianness. Under these circumstances, many indigenous people preserve or disregard their ethnic distinctiveness depending on their socioeconomic or political situations. Three cases of local indigenous reactions from the state of Oaxaca are illustrated to reveal the patterns of the transformation of indigenous ethnicity.
In short, national policies to reinvent national identity by transforming traditional ethnic identity fall into unsolvable contradiction. For the better understanding of ethnic problems in Mexico, we have to examine carefully the dynamic relationships between the indigenous communities and the wider regional and national society.