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Relocating the Public and Reforming the Private: Tourism and the Survival of an Ancestor Cult in the Mexican Town of Mitla, Oaxaca

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses two ritual practices from the Mexican tourist town of Mitla. Both are of mixed Catholic and Indigenous American origin, both involve the souls of ancestors as beneficial beings and the town as the home of these souls, and both have undergone recent changes due to upcoming modernity. In conclusion it could be said that although upcoming modernity caused changes to occur in Mitla's religious landscape, it was not modernity itself that pre-determined whether these rituals would take on more or less public forms. Instead there are two other factors that should be highlighted. The first is the channel through which modernity seeps in, in this case tourism. The second is the pre-existing local categories, such as the respectability of a certain practice or who it represents. In the end it is the interaction between these two factors that seems to be of deciding importance.

Keywords: Mitla; ritual practices; tourism



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