TRANSLATING DEMOCRACY: CUSTOMARY LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN MEXICO
AbstractIn 992, Mexico modified its constitution as part of the reformation of its political landscape and recognised cultural diversity. This transition to democracy is embedded in economic and social transformations of the Mexican society and shaped by a revised normative assessment of its indigenous peoples. In the southern state of Oaxaca, the local constitution acknowledged indigenous autonomy in accordance with traditional customs and legal practices (usos y costumbres). I refer to a Zapotec community to discuss the enactment and controversial translation of this new constitutional status. I argue that already existing social and economic divides can be entrenched by the implementation of the new state law. Supporters of usos y costrumbres tend to essentialise ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’, whereas opponents appeal to notions of democracy and modernity to advance their claims. Both parties translate the Zapatista inspired international discourse on cultural rights into their arguments, but advocate antagonistic projects. In this article, I conceptualise ‘translation’ as cultural practice revealing the ambivalent implications of legal pluralism, autonomy, and self-determination.
How to Cite
Durr, E. (2008). TRANSLATING DEMOCRACY: CUSTOMARY LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN MEXICO. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 2(2), 91–118. https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol2iss2id66