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5431 - Transformation and Continuity: Corn, Coffee and Modernized Tradition in the Sierra Norte in Mexico

Coffee cultivation in Municipio Cuetzalan, Mexico, helps to preserve but at the same time to transform indigenous identity and culture as it endows the cultivation of corn (and corn is linked inseperable to indianess). On the one side the introduction of coffee cultivation to the region promoted soil deterioriation, on the other side the indigenous system of polyculture – also used in coffee cultivation – permits the production of organic coffee and thus thwarts ecological devastation. On the one hand coffee promoted private ownership of land, on the other hand it creates the economic resources to buy and to rent land.

In my paper I will elaborate on the processes of transformation and continuity in the Sierra like it was promoted by the constructive manner of Nahua people dealing with the introduction of coffee and related expropriation and privatization of land. Finding ways to regain at least parts of their land and using coffee as a resource to preserve their own culture in the Sierra is a creative mix of “modernized tradition”. At the same time it is threatened by commerzialisation of Nahuaness (as well as there is opposition to this).

Keywords: Mexico, corn, coffee, modernized tradition

Author: Zuckerhut, Patricia (University of Vienna, Austria / Österreich)

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