Mexico Profundo

2001

Howard Lamson
TEXT

Judith Adler Hellman
Octavio Paz
Guillermo Bonfil Batalla
Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes
Alfonso Caso
Subcomandante Marcos

Mexican Lives
El laberinto de la soledad
Mexico Profundo: una civilizacion
negada
El Indio
Selecciones
Selecciones

 

FIELD COMPONENTS

In addition to above readings and class discussions,
much of this course involves field study in a variety of settings and activities.

We will visit museums, villages near Cuautla, archaelogical sites and interview people. We will also spend five days in Temamatla studying NGO's and alternative approaches to development and several days in an indigenous area of Oaxaca. We will talk with people near Cuautla who have had contact with Zapatista communities.

OBJECTIVES OF THE COURSE "Mexico Profundo."
Our primary objective in this course is to read and understand Guillermo Bonfil Batalla's theory of Mexican identity as presented in his book, Mexico Profundo, and test out some of these ideas by means of first-hand contact in a variety of settings. Bonfil Batalla's major thesis is that since the "conquest" in 1521, two civilizations have co-existed in the territory called Mexico: the Mesoamerican civilization (la civilizacion mesoamericana) and Western civilization (la civilizacion occidental). The Western civilization, which the author poignantly calls El Mexico imaginario, has systematically devalued that vast majority of Mexico that represents a very different way of life, . Despite Mexico imaginario's efforts to create a Mexico occidental, another westernized democracy, that part of the country which he calls El Mexico profundo has resisted, and persisted in offering the majority of Mexicans a deeply rooted counter hegemonic system.

In addition to Mexican Lives we will read chapters from one of the early controversial studies of Mexican identity, El laberinto de la soledad, by the well-known Mexican author Octavio Paz. Any student of Mexican culture must take this work into account whether you like it or not, because every other writer inevitably alludes to it.

Other readings will include the classic novel El indio, by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes and selections from anthropologist Alfonso Caso and essays by Zapatista leader, Subcomandante Marcos.

METHODOLOGY/METODOLOGIA
Upon first setting foot on Mexican soil, I will ask us to do a lot of observing. We want to try to understand the narrative that the dominant Mexican culture, El Mexico imaginario, has written for itself. Everything tells this story, this unique narrative in the making: faces, buildings, art, music, language, relationships, literature,political structures history, sociology. For this particular course everything we observe is a "text.
"
Our work to understand this narrative requires what Milton Bennett calls "cultural humility"--we need to keep in mind that what our culture has taught us, is only one of many ways of interpreting reality. To be good observers we need to minimize the interference of our cultural filters, "humble ourselves", see as clearly as possible what is before us to make an attempt to understand people different from oneself.

We will have the opportunity to read and discuss some good cultural theory. I will ask you to read carefully, and to summarize in Spanish the most important ideas of the section of the books and handouts we are reading. As we develop this context of cultural theory we will be able to evaluate what we hear and see in the many visits we have with others throughout the program. I will ask you to write down your observations of people, art and groups we encounter. Your first assignment will be the 23rd of August in Mexico City in which I will ask you to reflect on the "text" we observe in the ZOCALO, the plaza in the heart of Mexico City--La Catedral, El Palacio Nacional and its many Diego Rivera murals, the ex-cavated Templo Mayor and the indigenous dancers. Your second task, on August 24,is to observe how the National University expresses Mexico's narrative.

By midsemester you should be able to write a 10-12 page paper synthesizing many of your observations, readings, interviews, and experiences in the field. I hope you find this paper to be a rewarding experience. This paper is the culminating moment of the course, Mexico Profundo, and at this point you will be able to turn your attention more fully to your field study.

Judith Adler Hellman's text Mexican Lives is extremely important for developing contextual knowledge of Mexico and its historical development. You should become very familiar with the characters in her book. They are important representative actors in El Mexico imaginario.

EVALUATION

Class discussion of the ideas presented in the texts. To what extent do you help us understand those ideas? How much do you contribute to our processing of experiences in the field? 20%

Written summaries of the material we read. How well have you synthesized most important material to develop contextual understanding? Also you will be doing small interpretative projects each week in the field. 30%

Final paper, 10-12 pages en espanol. The topic of this paper is Mexico Profundo. How well have you put together ideas from our readings, observations, interviews and field experiences? What is your vision now of Bonfil Batalla's theories on Mexican culture and how well do you develop your ideas? How does the text Mexican Lives relate to theme?50%

HORARIO DE CLASES
Completar Para
Texto y Paginas
Tarea escrita u oral
jueves, 30 de agosto
Laberinto de la soledad,
ch. 1.

Resumen de 1 pag de ideas mas importantes

jueves, 6 de septiembre
Laberinto de la soledad,
chs. 2 y 4

Resumen de 2 pags de ideas
mas importantes.

Discusion con tu familia sobre unas ideas de Paz

jueves, 13 de septiembre
Mexico profundo, chs. 1 y 2
Resumen de 2 pags de ideas
mas importantes
jueves, 20 de septiembre
Mexico profundo chs.3 y 4
Prueba sobre lectura

jueves, 27 de septiembre

Domingo 30 de sep a jueves 4 de oct

Mexico profundo 229-246

Excursion a Temamatla

Discusion con tu familia y otros sobre los dos Mexicos. Presenta estas ideas en clase.

Escriba sus observaciones sobre cada dia

jueves, 4 de octubre
Escritos del Subcomandante Marcos y de Alfonso Caso

Domingo 7 de oct a sabado 13

jueves, 25 de octubre

Excursion a Oaxaca

Termina El Indio de Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes

Escriba sus observaciones sobre el pueblo en Oaxaca
jueves, 1 de noviembre
ENTREGAR TRABAJO FINAL
DURING OUR TWO WEEKS IN TEMAMATLA AND OAXACA, KEEP A JOURNAL IN WHICH YOU ATTEMPT TO INTERPRET THESE FIELD EXPERIENCES IN LIGHT OF OUR READINGS. TO WHAT EXTENT DO THE GROUPS WE ENCOUNTER TEND TO REFLECT DIFFFERENT CIVILIZATIONS? EXPLAIN YOUR PERCEPTIONS AS CLEARLY AS POSSIBLE. IDEAS YOU RECORD IN YOUR JOURNAL MAY BE USED IN YOUR FINAL PAPER.