Association of Senior Anthropologists
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
No matter what the social setting, socioeconomic change is inevitable and constant. For this reason, published ethnographic data become more or less outdated from the moment we leave the field. Until relatively recently, ethnographic revisits took the form of direct personal contact, that is, participant observation. Nowadays, with the vast expansion of acceptable ethnographic subjects, as well as the world-wide use of telephones and social media, revisits often occur at a great distance, whether virtually or otherwise. In this paper, I recount findings from several first-hand revisits to Tzintzuntzan, Mexico, combined with updates through telephone conversations with village friends. Located as it is in the state of Michoacán, an area consistently cited as one of the most violent states in Mexico, the community of Tzintzuntzan is practically unrecognizable from it was fifty years ago, when I first conducted fieldwork there. My mentor George Foster probably would have found Tzintzuntzan forbidding, as I do today. If he were still alive, he might well have abandoned the frequent visits, diligent recording of field data, and prolific publication that made Tzintzuntzan into one of Mexico's most famous anthropological sites.