Moral compromises: Embracing "tradition" and "modernity" in Mazatlan, Mexico
AuthorDuvall, Tracy Mareen, 1963-
AdvisorAlonso, Ana Maria
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation is about moral complexity. It shows how a focus on moral contradictions elucidates everyday life in Mazatlan, Mexico, and it uses this ethnography to develop analytical perspectives on more-general issues. This work treats the ways that people of Mazatlan-- mazatlecos--manage conflicting pressures to be both "traditional" and "modern," as they conceive of these ways of being. These two moral frameworks appear to be contradictory, yet mazatlecos expect themselves and other locals to combine them in a multitude of ways and contexts. This ethnographic and historical analysis supports yet reworks academic claims about a longstanding, pervasive, and significant contradiction between "traditional" and "modern" ways of being Mexican. Even relatively "modern" Mexicans employ a meta-expectation that good people will simultaneously combine various aspects of their identity. This preference contradicts "modern" social organization, which emphasizes the separation of identity into contextualized facets. Nonetheless, even the most "traditional" mazatlecos favored various aspects of "modernity," including contextualized identities. Individuals had different possibilities and desires and faced different consequences, based on other aspects of their identities. After introducing Mazatlan and my fieldwork experience (Chapter Two), I analyze Carnaval to delineate a key aspect differentiating "modernity" and "tradition" (Chapter Three). Then I analyze various elections to highlight another contradictory aspect of these frameworks and to show that this contradiction is important outside of entertainment contexts (Chapter Four). Chapter Five uses Mazatlan's disco utopias as a springboard for discussing the promise of tourism and for developing a process for avoiding unhappiness. Chapter Six assesses mazatlecos' "moral geographies" through a comparison of communicative practices in different zones. Chapter Seven is a vignette about a date that spanned two local zones and several issues. Chapter Eight contains a social-semiotic account of locals in the tourist zone and elsewhere, showing that even apparently trivial practices had lasting importance. Moral contradictions are an inherent part of human life. They are not solely the artifacts of globalization or other processes of intercultural domination, although these processes are likely to sharpen them. Moral contradictions sometimes spring from or engender conflict, but they sometimes result from or in integration.
Degree ProgramGraduate College