Anthropology | Peoples of Mexico
E321 | 26431 | Suslak

Mexico is one of the United States’ most important trading partners;
Mexico has the eleventh largest population in the world and the
world’s thirteenth largest economy; Its capital, Mexico City, has more
than 19 million residents.

Before the Spanish came to the New World, the territory of Mexico was
home to three of the world’s great civilizations--the Maya, the Aztec,
and the Zapotec and over a hundred other indigenous groups.
Pre-Hispanic Mexico had large cities, trade networks that connected
the entire country, arts, astronomy and mathematics, a complex
calendrical system, religions and a priesthood, sophisticated laws,
courts and judges.

Today, indigenous Mexicans still make up over ten percent of the
population. The rest of Mexico’s people came from Europe, Asia, and
Africa over the last five centuries. Some came as conquerors, others
as slaves, and still others as merchants, war refugees, artists, and
pensioners. More recently, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans (mostly
younger, mostly poorer) have been migrating north across the border,
looking for opportunities and advancement in the United States.

In this course we will learn about Mexico’s people--who they are, what
they do, what their dreams are. We will explore the lives of Mexicans
living in the second largest city in the world. We will follow the
story of the Zapatista rebels in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas
as they seek justice and land. The old stories of indigenous belief,
art, and survival will teach us about Mexico’s indigenous peoples. And
individual stories of migration will help us understand better the
realities of immigration and its effect on both sides of the
U.S.-Mexican border.

Stories of ingenuity and imagination, of change and continuity, of
family and community, of becoming an active partner in globalization
while recognizing ancient roots--these are the paradoxes of
contemporary Mexico.