I recently attended the Washington Writers Conference. Before registering I sought reviews or personal accounts of attendees and couldn’t find any, so perhaps this report will help anyone considering attending in future years. In short, I’m glad I went once, but that was enough. Continue reading
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Going to Mazatlán for Spring Break? If you’re looking for something not-so-light to read while lounging on the beach, you might consider Moral Compromises in Mazatlán: Public Life in Urban Mexico. It provides an academic analysis of life in Mazatlán based on years of ethnographic research there (ending around 2000). While many things have changed since I finished my anthropological investigations, many of the basic patterns I found remain unchanged. Search the text for “parachuteros,” and you’ll learn something interesting about those guys working the beach.
At long last, I’ve published a highly reworked version of my PhD dissertation as a book: Moral Compromises in Mazatlán: Public Life in Urban Mexico. It’s an ethnography of Mazatlan, a coastal city in Mexico, based on research that I conducted from 1991 to 2000. And it has color photos.
Here’s the blurb:
This book is a wide-ranging ethnography of Mazatlán, a mid-sized city and tourist destination on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The text focuses on diverse aspects of Mazatlecos’ lives, especially in public realms. Readers will finish with an analytical understanding of life in Mazatlán and a good practical sense of it, too – knowledge that should apply, in some degree, to many other parts of Mexico and, indeed, to much of Spanish-speaking America.
Rife with concrete observations of local life – including beaches, bakeries, beauty contests, Carnaval, and corruption – this monograph demonstrates that Mazatlecos expected each other to mix contradictory moral frameworks. The author compares different classes, neighborhoods, and social domains to develop a sophisticated analysis of everyday life in this urban setting. The main themes are how people in Mazatlán define and combine modernity and tradition, the character of various social distinctions among Mazatlecos, and the relationship between individual experience and institutionalized expectations.
This volume is not a tourist guide or traveler’s tale. It addresses several types of university-level reader: tourists and foreign residents who want to learn more about Mazatlán; Mexicans who value different perspectives on their lives; academics interested in this region or in a holistic treatment of diverse issues, including space, modernity, history, gender, sexuality, politics, globalization, organization, diversity, hierarchy, identity, and discourse; and anthropologists-in-training looking for a relatively transparent account of fieldwork.