Carving Identity: Tourism and Cultural Renewal in San Martín Tilcahete, Oaxaca, Mexico


Chris Goertzen (University of Southern Mississippi)

San Martín Tilcahete is one of many small towns in Mexico that depend on specific tourist-oriented crafts as economic engines. The outside money doesn’t just put food on the table, it both allows and channels cultural renewal. In San Martín, carving elaborate wooden figures—mostly animals real and imagined—first allowed men to stay home rather than migrate north for work. More recently, the women painters of the figures have inscribed patterns of meaning-laden ornaments that echo their Zapotec heritage. This art also partly redefines the town’s cultural identity, certainly as it is advertised and arguably as it is felt.

Part of 62-02 Tourism and Heritage Discourses, Saturday, October 23, 10:30 am–12:00 pm