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The Village Is Like a Wheel
Rethinking Cargos, Family, and Ethnicity in Highland Mexico
By Roger Magazine
168 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 2012
Cloth (978-0-8165-1161-7) [s]
Related Interest
  - Anthropology

In this modern-day anthropological manifesto, Roger Magazine proposes a radical but commonsense change to the study of people whose understanding of the world differs substantially from our own.
Magazine offers a fresh look at an old problem in Mexican indigenous studies: the nature of the cargo system. . . .The Village Is Like a Wheel is an inspiring work for any reader interested in community studies or contemporary theoretical debates.

—Mountain Research and Development

Roger Magazine presents and works through a fascinating paradox in which Tepetlaoxtoc villagers, on the outskirts of Mexico City, maintain a philosophy of life that has many things in common with their ancient Nahua ancestors.

—James M. Taggart, author of Remembering Victoria: A Tragic Nahuat Love Story

Magazine takes issues of long-standing concern in the ethnology of Mesoamerica—like the cargo system, kinship, and ethnicity—and invites us to look at them in a new way. In fact, he turns everything on its head and argues that, from a local point of view, what we thought was important is really not a great concern. Everyone working in this area will have to engage this argument at some level.

—John Monaghan, author of The Covenants with Earth and Rain: Exchange, Sacrifice, and Revelation in Mixtec Society

A wealth of information full of ethnographic observations and anecdotes appealing to our imagination.

—European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Specifically, it argues for a major shift in the prevailing approach to the study of rural highland peoples in Mexico. Using ethnographic material, Roger Magazine builds a convincing case that many of the discipline's usual topics and approaches distract anthropologists from what is truly important to the people whose lives they study. While Western anthropologists have usually focused on the production of things, such as community, social structure, cultural practices, identities, and material goods—since this is what they see as the appropriate objective of productive action in their own lives—residents of rural highland communities in Mexico (among others) are primarily concerned with what Magazine calls the production of active subjectivity in other persons.

According to Magazine, where Western anthropologists often assume that persons are individuals capable of acting on their own to produce things, rural highland Mexicans see persons as inherently interdependent and in need of others even to act. He utilizes the term "active subjectivity" to denote the fact that what they produce in others is not simply action but also a subjective state or attitude of willingness to perform the action.

The author's goals are to improve understandings of rural highland Mexicans' lives and to contribute to a broader disciplinary effort aimed at revealing the cultural specificity or ethnocentricity of our supposedly universally applicable concepts and theories.

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