Exhibiting Mexicanidad : the National Museum of Anthropology and Mexico City in the Mexican imaginary

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2011-08

Authors

Coupal, Melissa Biggs

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Abstract

This dissertation provides an ethnographic account of the ongoing and evolving relations between the construction of nation and cultural production at the Museo Nacional de Antropología (MNA, or the Museo) in Mexico City. The MNA plays a key role in the production, reproduction, and dissemination of representations of Mexico’s pre-colonial past and its existing indigenous populations as components of contemporary Mexican nationhood. Historically, the Mexican state has used anthropological knowledge to inform and implement policies enacted to cement the ties of an ethnically diverse population to the nation, define and preserve national patrimony, and promote heritage as an economic resource. The dissertation explores the MNA as an arena for the expression of the tensions generated by these sometimes disparate agendas. I argue that the MNA, rather than simply reproducing and maintaining official understandings of the relationships between citizens and nation, also provides a space for the negotiation and transformation of these relationships.

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