Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World: Bourdieu and Urban Poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico

By Cheleen Ann-Catherine Mahar | Go to book overview
Save to active project


As a young woman in graduate school, I went with other anthropologists to work with the urban poor in Oaxaca, Mexico. Since then, over a period of thirty years, a group of Mexican women, as well as a number of their daughters and sons, have confided stories about their lives to me. These stories tell of the struggles they overcame to create homes in a squatter settlement on an urban hillside, on land they did not own. Here they raised their families, found work, and created a future for themselves. Between 1968 and 1974, I worked with another anthropologist in Colonia Hermosa. Later, from 1996 to 2000, I returned again to visit and to exchange news and stories.

These accounts were private, yet the inhabitants of Colonia Hermosa have allowed me to share them more widely in order to explicate the broader story of Mexico and globalization. The people I spoke to, and who became friends, felt their experiences might be helpful to others following a similar path. In general, these were rural people coming to the city for the first time, and they believed their own journeys might serve as useful sources of information for others. The relationships I developed in this community were based on trust: trust that I would not misrepresent their stories, and trust that I would not use their names. I have taken pains in transcribing their words, as the process of writing clearly changes the experience of the actual interview. I have tried to set each individual in context, and to draw a vivid picture both of the circumstances of each interview session and of each person's broader life history.

Subjectivity is essential to the story social science tells, but like its counterpart, objectivity, it is rarely enough. Our job in anthropology and sociology is not only to record and witness the lives of others, but also to learn how to listen at a deeper level and, through listening, discern the social logic of the domination and symbolic violence that are common in the global community. The personal accounts presented in this book are, on one hand, personal and subjective, but on the other, reflective of larger societal structures. In Colonia Hermosa, families and individuals are framed by personal dispositions and familial logic, but also by a larger social logic of late and developing capitalism. My hope is that readers will find that this book helps unlock both the logic of the self and, in part, the logic of the global system. The theoretical


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World: Bourdieu and Urban Poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 181

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?