Made in Mexico: Zapotec Weavers and the Global Ethnic Art Market


Made in Mexico: Zapotec Weavers and the Global Ethnic Art Market
W. Warner Hood
2008, Indiana University Press
244 pages

THEY ADORN the walls of fashionable houses across the US, adding that hint of indigenous authenticity – and colour – to the grey, featureless face of a consumer society dominated by mass-produced paraphernalia divorced from the historical setting of its production. Yet as this focused study of the trade in Oaxacan textiles that can now be found in every gallery and store in the American south-west reveals, these have become thoroughly contemporary articles supplying a transnational commodity chain that belies the rustic traditions they intend to invoke. While weaving is a social practice among the Zapotecs, the production and consumption of their textiles has been as shaped by their position in the market and its influence upon their livelihoods as any modern product. Although approached from an anthropological perspective that seeks out the social and ethnic meanings of the textiles themselves as well as the practices involved in their production, Warner Hood’s study is also an engaging sectoral micro-economic history that – as the title of the series, “Tracking Globalization” suggests – makes clear connections with broader socio-economic phenomena. – GJ