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Death and the Idea of Mexico
Death and the Idea of Mexico is the first social, cultural, and political history of death in a nation that has made death its tutelary sign. Examining the history of death and of the death sign from the sixteenth-century holocaust to contemporary Mexican American identity politics, anthropologist Claudio Lomnitz’s innovative study marks a turning point in understanding Mexico’s rich and unique use of death imagery. Unlike contemporary Europeans and Americans, whose denial of death permeates their cultures, the Mexican people display and cultivate a jovial familiarity with death. This intimacy with death has become the cornerstone of Mexico’s national identity.
It is tempting to view this rich elaboration of death imagery as yet another example of an “invented tradition,” that is, a cult shaped by the modern state’s cultural policies or by the narrow interests of contemporary identity politics. Lomnitz takes a different approach. Rather than flattening out the tradition by insisting only on the ways it is willfully manipulated, this book focuses on the dialectical relationship between dying, killing, and the administration of death, and the very formation of the colonial state, of a rich and variegated popular culture, and of the Mexican nation itself. The elevation of Mexican intimacy with death to the center of national identity is but a moment within that history — within a history in which the key institutions of society are built around the claims of the fallen.
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Author: Lomnitz, Claudio Year: 2005 ISBN: 9781890951535 Pages: 575 Language: English Publisher: Zone Books Publisher's city: New York