Singing for the Dead chronicles ethnic revival in Oaxaca, Mexico, where new forms of singing and writing in the local Mazatec indigenous language are producing powerful, transformative political effects. Paja Faudree argues for the inclusion of singing as a necessary component in the polarized debates about indigenous orality and literacy, and she considers how the coupling of literacy and song has allowed people from the region to create texts of enduring social resonance. She examines how local young people are learning to read and write in Mazatec as a result of the region's new Day of the Dead song contest. Faudree also studies how tourist interest in local psychedelic mushrooms has led to their commodification, producing both opportunities and challenges for songwriters and others who represent Mazatec culture. She situates these revival movements within the contexts of Mexico and Latin America, as well as the broad, hemisphere-wide movement to create indigenous literatures. Singing for the Dead provides a new way to think about the politics of ethnicity, the success of social movements, and the limits of national belonging.
Paja Faudree is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brown University.
Acknowledgments ix Note on Orthographic and Linguistic Conventions xiii Introduction. Leaving the Pueblo 1 1. From Revolution to Renaissance: A Political Geography and History of "Deep Mexico" 30 2. Revival in the "Land of the Magic Mushroom": A Recent History of Ethnic Relations in the Sierra Mazateca 75 3. Singing for the Spirits: The Annual Day of the Dead Song Contest 105 4. Scenes from a Nativist Reformation: The Mazatec Indigenous Church 141 5. Meeting at the Family Crypt: Social Fault Lines and the Fragility of Community 174 6. Seeing Double: Indigenous Authors, Readers, and the Paradox of Revival 197 Conclusion. Singing for the Dead and the Living: Revival, Indigenous Publics, and the National Afterlife 236 Notes 251 References 277 Index 297