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“Frame That Rug!”: Narratives of Zapotec Textiles as Art and Ethnic Commodity in the Global Marketplace

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This article explores representations of Mexican Zapotec textiles as texts and as sites of contested values and meanings. Discussion of this indigenous cottage industry begins in the Oaxacan village of Teotitlán del Valle, the site of production, and follows the textile as it moves across social and cultural borders as a commodity in postindustrial consumer culture. The anthropologist's mediating role in brokering Zapotec textiles is considered within the social context of exchange relations between buyer and seller. Ethnographic stories about the production and aesthetics of Zapotec textiles are contrasted with consumers' self-fashioning narratives of embodied experiences associated with their hand-woven possessions. The article concludes with reflections on the narrative threads of text that comprise a Zapotec textile's intrinsic value as both art and craft.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2004

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