Indigenous Media in Mexico

Culture, Community, and the State

Indigenous Media in Mexico

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 13 photographs, 4 maps Published: September 2013

Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Mexico, Media Studies > Film

In Indigenous Media in Mexico, Erica Cusi Wortham explores the use of video among indigenous peoples in Mexico as an important component of their social and political activism. Funded by the federal government as part of its "pluriculturalist" policy of the 1990s, video indígena programs became social processes through which indigenous communities in Oaxaca and Chiapas engendered alternative public spheres and aligned themselves with local and regional autonomy movements.

Drawing on her in-depth ethnographic research among indigenous mediamakers in Mexico, Wortham traces their shifting relationship with Mexican cultural agencies; situates their work within a broader, hemispheric network of indigenous media producers; and complicates the notion of a unified, homogeneous indigenous identity. Her analysis of projects from community-based media initiatives in Oaxaca to the transnational Chiapas Media Project highlights variations in cultural identity and autonomy based on specific histories of marginalization, accommodation, and resistance.


"Indigenous Media in Mexico offers a fascinating look at how native peoples in Mexico have embraced forms of technology for their own purposes in the new millennium." — Michelle Stephens, Ethnohistory

Indigenous Media in Mexico is a strong scholarly contribution to community media studies in Latin America, bringing much needed attention to the evolution of media and state policies toward Indigenous peoples in southern Mexico.” — J. Justin Castro, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

“Wortham’s careful and complex analysis of the emergence of indigenous media in Mexico is a crucial element for understanding the key role of the politics of culture and communication in today’s movements for indigenous autonomy. The book will be of interest to general audiences as well as those in the areas of cultural anthropology, international media studies, indigenous studies and Latin American studies.” — Lynn Stephen, Journal of Latin American Studies

“Through the lens of the indigenous videos explored in this book, non-indigenous viewers can see more complex representations of indigenous communities that more closely resemble the ways these communities are created, understood, and maintained by the people living in them. Indigenous Media in Mexico makes the case that these visualizations can only enrich social inquiry and general education by making it more inclusive, creative, and ingenious. This is a useful lesson for scholars and students alike.” — Laurel C. Smith, Journal of Anthropological Research

Indigenous Media in Mexico offers a compelling landscape describing the history, developments, and challenges of indigenous media in Southern Mexico. And it opens insightful questions for further studies about the role of media for indigenous peoples’ struggles for self-determination.” — Gabriela Zamorano Villarreal, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

"Indigenous Media in Mexico is above all a virtuous example of the important body of anthropological work that has developed with a particular focus on the centrality of media in Indigenous peoples’ cultural processes of self-representation and social movements more broadly." — Juan Francisco Salazar, American Anthropologist

“There is much to applaud in this volume: the painstaking presentation of ethnographic research and the thoroughgoing problematization of key issues in our conceptualization of indigenous media are valuable contributions to the field.” — Thea Pitman, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"Indigenous Media in Mexico is a landmark work, showing us the political and aesthetic creativity of video indígena that emerged, beginning in the 1990s, out of local communities in Oaxaca and Chiapas, eventually becoming part of a broader transnational circuit of indigenous collective self-expression, helping to establish a lively alternative public sphere. Wortham's meticulous, long–standing, collaborative research has yielded rich insights into the worlds of these indigenous cultural activists and their complex relationship to the Mexican government as well as the national imaginary." — Faye Ginsburg, Director of the Center for Media, Culture, and History at New York University

"This terrific book will make key contributions to several fields as an account of the fascinating diverse histories of emergence of indigenous video, including the remarkable experience of transformation in Mexico from its origins as a state-controlled project to distinct local expressions of cultural autonomy and resistance." — Charles R. Hale, author of Más Que un Indio (More Than an Indian)


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Erica Cusi Wortham is Assistant Research Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction. Making Culture Visible: Indigenous Media in Mexico 1

Part 1. Broader Contexts for Situating Video Indígena

1. Global and National Contexts of Video Indígena 25

2. Inventing Video Indígena: Transferring Audiovisual Media to Indigenous Organizations and Communities 58

Part 2. Indigenous Media Organizations in Oaxaca

3. Regional Dimensions: Video Indígena beyond State Sponsorship 93

4. Dilemmas in Making Culture Visible: Achieving Community Embeddedness in Tamazulapam del Espíritu Santo, Mixe 130

Part 3. Points of Comparison

5. Revolutionary Indigenous Media: The Chiapas Media Project/Promedios 177

6. Conclusions: Indigenous Media on the International Stage 207

Notes 223

References 243

Index 261
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5500-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5484-0
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