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LLILAS Alum Publishes Book on Cultural Production in Oaxaca

Posted: August 3, 2012
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LLILAS alum Ronda Brulotte is the author of the recently released Between Art and Artifact: Archaeological Replicas and Cultural Production in Oaxaca, Mexico. Published by the University of Texas Press, the book is an illuminating study of global art markets and cultural production in Oaxaca.   

Exploring the often contradictory discourses about Oaxaca as a place of authentic pre-Hispanic and contemporary indigenous culture, the book looks at a single community with a history of involvement in two different artistic traditions. Since the 1980s, San Antonio Arrazola has garnered international acclaim as the birthplace of the colorful woodcarvings known as alebrijes. Few tourists and folk art collectors, however, are aware that it is also home to a group of skilled artisans who make and sell replicas of pre-Hispanic archaeological artifacts at nearby Monte Albán, the largest archaeological zone in Oaxaca and a UNESCO World Heritage site. In a seeming contradiction, Arrazola woodcarvers are promoted as talented craftsmakers for the tourist art market, while replica artisans, often from the same households as the carvers, are generally regarded as an undesirable presence by tourists and Oaxaca officials alike.     

Although Mexican artisans have made and sold replicas of pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces for at least 100 years, until now there has been no extensive study documenting the social or economic circumstances of their creations. Between Art and Artifact seeks to understand the broader aesthetic and sociopolitical dimensions of replica crafts, particularly the ways in which they comment on Oaxaca’s development into a world-class cultural tourism destination. 

Ronda Brulotte (LLILAS Class of 1999) is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and a faculty affiliate with the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. She holds a PhD in cultural anthropology and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests focus on global tourism, art and material culture, and the politics of heritage in Mexico. She is currently working on a second book project that deals with the production of Oaxacan mezcal for a transnational consumer market.  

For more information on the book, visit UT Press.

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