Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings by Michael ChibnikCrafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings by Michael Chibnik

Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings

byMichael Chibnik

Paperback | May 1, 2003

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Since the mid-1980s, whimsical, brightly colored wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have found their way into gift shops and private homes across the United States and Europe, as Western consumers seek to connect with the authenticity and tradition represented by indigenous folk arts. Ironically, however, the Oaxacan wood carvings are not a traditional folk art. Invented in the mid-twentieth century by non-Indian Mexican artisans for the tourist market, their appeal flows as much from intercultural miscommunication as from their intrinsic artistic merit.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Michael Chibnik offers the first in-depth look at the international trade in Oaxacan wood carvings, including their history, production, marketing, and cultural representations. Drawing on interviews he conducted in the carving communities and among wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, he follows the entire production and consumption cycle, from the harvesting of copal wood to the final purchase of the finished piece. Along the way, he describes how and why this "invented tradition" has been promoted as a "Zapotec Indian" craft and explores its similarities with other local crafts with longer histories. He also fully discusses the effects on local communities of participating in the global market, concluding that the trade in Oaxacan wood carvings is an almost paradigmatic case study of globalization.

Michael Chibnik is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Title:Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood CarvingsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.98 × 6.02 × 0.79 inPublished:May 1, 2003Publisher:University of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292712480

ISBN - 13:9780292712485

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Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. History of Oaxacan Wood Carving (1940-1985)
  • Chapter 3. Contemporary Wood Carving
  • Chapter 4. Wood-Carving Communities
  • Chapter 5. Economic Strategies
  • Chapter 6. Making Wood Carvings
  • Chapter 7. Global Markets and Local Work Organization
  • Chapter 8. Specializations
  • Chapter 9. How Artisans Attain Success
  • Chapter 10. Popular Journalism, Artistic Styles, and Economic Success
  • Chapter 11. Sales in Oaxaca
  • Chapter 12. Sales in the United States
  • Chapter 13. Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • References Cited

Editorial Reviews

"It is hard for me to praise this book sufficiently. . . . It is a major contribution to the field of Oaxacan/Mexican studies, as well as economic anthropology and the study of tourism and crafts." - Arthur Murphy, Georgia State University, coauthor of Social Inequality in Oaxaca: A History of Resistance and Change