The people of Mexquitic, a town in the state of San Luis Potosí in rural northeastern Mexico, have redefined their sense of identity from "Indian" to "Mexican" over the last two centuries. In this ethnographic and historical study of Mexquitic, David Frye explores why and how this transformation occurred, thereby increasing our understanding of the cultural creation of "Indianness" throughout the Americas.
Frye focuses on the local embodiments of national and regional processes that have transformed rural "Indians" into modern "Mexicans" parish priests, who always arrive with personal agendas in addition to their common ideological baggage; local haciendas; and local and regional representatives of royal and later of national power and control. He looks especially at the people of Mexquitic themselves, letting their own words describe the struggles they have endured while constructing their particular corner of Mexican national identity.
This ethnography, the first for any town in northeastern Mexico, adds substantially to our knowledge of the forces that have rendered "Indians" almost invisible to European-origin peoples from the fifteenth century up to today. It will be important reading for a wide audience not only in anthropology and Latin American studies but also among the growing body of general readers interested in the multicultural heritage of the Americas.
About the Author: David Frye is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan.