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Elusive Unity

Factionalism and the Limits of Identity Politics in Yucatán, Mexico

by Fernando Armstrong-Fumero

Elusive Unity

"Armstrong-Fumero has done research in one of the areas most frequented by anthropologists yet he has come up with methodological and theoretical insights that go beyond the large body of publications . . . not only a solid contribution to the ethnographic literature, but to indigenous movements in the Western Hemisphere."
—June Nash, City University of New York

"Of a spate of books that have come out in recent years on the intricacies of Maya ethnicity in the Yucatán Peninsula, this work by Smith College anthropologist Armstrong-Fumero, based upon a decade of study, is the most cogent and insightful . . . . A highly readable, very contemporary, important work. Summing up: Essential."
— P. R. Sullivan, Choice

In Elusive Unity, Armstrong-Fumero examines early twentieth-century peasant politics and twenty-first-century indigenous politics in the rural Oriente region of Yucatán.

The rural inhabitants of this region have had some of their most important dealings with their nation's government as self-identified "peasants" and "Maya." Using ethnography, oral history, and archival research, Armstrong-Fumero shows how the same body of narrative tropes has defined the local experience of twentieth-century agrarianism and twenty-first-century multiculturalism.

Through these recycled narratives, contemporary multicultural politics have also inherited some ambiguities that were built into its agrarian predecessor. Specifically, local experiences of peasant and indigenous politics are shaped by tensions between the vernacular language of identity and the intense factionalism that often defines the social organization of rural communities. This significant contribution will be of interest to historians, anthropologists, and political scientists studying Latin America and the Maya.



Cloth: $55.00
Electronic book: $44.00
30 day Electronic book rental: $9.99


Author Bio:

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero: Fernando Armstrong-Fumero is an assistant professor of anthropology at Smith College. He has conducted research in Maya-speaking communities in Yucatán, Mexico, since 1997.


ISBN: 978-1-60732-238-2
Format: Cloth
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 8 B&W photographs, 1 map
Published: August 2013
Discount Type: Short


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