In this extensively revised and updated second edition of her classic ethnography, Lynn Stephen explores the intersection of gender, class, and indigenous ethnicity in southern Mexico. She provides a detailed study of how the lives of women weavers and merchants in the Zapotec-speaking town of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, have changed in response to the international demand for Oaxacan textiles. Based on Stephen’s research in Teotitlán during the mid-1980s, in 1990, and between 2001 and 2004, this volume provides a unique view of a Zapotec community balancing a rapidly advancing future in export production with an entrenched past anchored in indigenous culture.
Stephen presents new information about the weaving cooperatives women have formed over the last two decades in an attempt to gain political and cultural rights within their community and standing as independent artisans within the global market. She also addresses the place of Zapotec weaving within Mexican folk art and the significance of increased migration out of Teotitlán. The women weavers and merchants collaborated with Stephen on the research for this book, and their perspectives are key to her analysis of how gender relations have changed within rituals, weaving production and marketing, local politics, and family life. Drawing on the experiences of women in Teotitlán, Stephen considers the prospects for the political, economic, and cultural participation of other indigenous women in Mexico under the policies of economic neoliberalism which have prevailed since the 1990s.