Patrimony, Value, and Collectivity in Contemporary Mexico
Elizabeth Ferry explores how members of the Santa Fe Cooperative, a silver mine in Mexico, give meaning to their labor in an era of rampant globalization. She analyzes the cooperative's practices and the importance of patrimonio (patrimony) in their understanding of work, tradition, and community. More specifically, she argues that patrimonio, a belief that certain resources are inalienable possessions of a local collective passed down to subsequent generations, has shaped and sustained the cooperative's sense of identity.
"Elizabeth Ferry's outstanding ethnography of a mining cooperative provides pioneering insights into the tensions between local collective identities built after the Mexican revolution and the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1990s. It offers a nuanced account of an important effort to reproduce socially and ecologically sustainable forms of commodity production rooted in a patrimonial ideal of inalienable resources in an era of free-market orthodoxy. Through a brilliant analysis of property and value this study makes vivid the relationship between people and place, between the local, national, and global. Not Ours Alone is a major contribution to our understanding of capitalism in postrevolutionary Mexico." — Thomas Klubock, State University of New York, Stony Brook, author of Contested Communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile's El Teniente Copper Mine, 1904-1948
"Drawing on theories of value and exchange as well as in-depth knowledge of modern Mexico, this historical ethnography of the only remaining miners' cooperative in Mexico brings new insights to our understanding of local ways of dealing with global economic restructuring. It is one of the few works that analyzes the idiom of patrimonio and its paradoxical relationship to the capitalist market. The richness of this path-breaking book will draw a broad audience ranging from scholars interested in local negotiations of globalization, especially as these are bound up with redefinitions of "property" to Latin Americanists and Mexicanists as well as historians of technology and specialists in mining and metallurgy. This is a book that will remain relevant for years to come." — Ana M. Alonso, University of Arizona, author of Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier
"Mexican mining has a dense historical charge. It drove the history of colonization, and it drove the history of labor. As a commodity, silver long represented Mexico on the world stage. As sites of extraction, mines have been key figures of the nationalist imaginary. Elizabeth Ferry's study of value and patrimony in a Guanajuato mining cooperative explains the paradoxical ways in which ore extraction has rooted a community of workers. Her book is a unique contribution to an emerging and new economic anthropology." — Claudio Lomnitz, New School for Social Research, author of Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism
Foreword, by June Nash
1. Introduction: Inalienability, Value, and Collectivity
2. The Santa Fe Cooperative in Guanajuato, Mexico
3. Labor, History, and Historical Consciousness
4. Recent Challenges and Responses
5. Realms of Patrimony: Mine and House
6. Patrimony, Power, and Ideology
7. Veins of Value, Rocks of Renown: An Anthropology of Mined Substances
8. Mexican Languages of Patrimony: Land, Subsoil, "Culture"
9. Conclusion: Not Whose Alone?
Appendix 1. Historical Silver Prices from 1975 to 2002
Appendix 2. Aspects of Mineral Production in the Santa Fe Cooperative