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Title: Community and dissent : a study of the implications of religious fragmentation in the Sierra Juárez, Oaxaca
Author: Gross, T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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The objective of this study is to analyse the social implications of religious fragmentation in the rural indigenous communities of the State of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. The research is based on the data collected during eighteen months of anthropological fieldwork (1998-2000) carried out in the Zapotec and Chinantec communities of the Sierra Juárez, a mountainous Northern region of the state. It first demonstrates that although indigenous communities in contemporary Oaxaca can be characterised by the so-called "communal ideology" that strives for cultural, legal, social and religious homogeneity, they are at the same time "battlefields" of contesting interests and social projects. The fragmentation of the "religious field" of the "traditionally" Catholic communities all over Mexico has contributed to the increase of social heterogeneity within these. This study looks at the impact of religious fragmentation of communal life and the lives of individuals as members of communities, and at the relationship between different religious groups in the commonly shared "profane" arena. Special attention is paid to religious conflicts and intolerance between Catholics and non-Catholics as a consequence of the rapid increase of religious "dissent" in these communities and in rural Mexico in general. The study analyses the underlying reasons of conflicts and intolerance, demonstrating that these should not be explained only in religious, but also in political, legal and economic terms. Finally, the mechanisms of maintaining or re-establishing "communal consensus" are scrutinised by looking at the ways religious conflicts are resolved, and trying to explain why in some communities social equilibrium has been achieved relatively easily, while in others intolerance has lasted for long. Although concerned with a particular ethnographic region, this study aims to add to greater understanding of the phenomenon of religious fragmentation and its implications in Mexico and in Latin American in general. By combining micro and macro data, it challenges some of the conventional theories of the reasons of religious change and intolerance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available