Beginning in the 1920s and extending up until today, Mexican elites have encouraged cultural production (including a variety of popular art and crafts) in promoting a larger, unifying sense of national awareness. Some, like cultural theorist Néstor García Canclini, suggest that Mexico is unique in this, claiming that local artisans achieved a sense of “national identity” even before mass communication and the tourism industry achieved maturity (p. 16).

The first part of Crafting Mexico discusses several early state-sponsored or commercial events that helped forge the new cultural nationalism. Here, Rick López explores the role that Mexican popular art played in developing a fresh aesthetic by detailing the many individuals and expanding bureaucratic infrastructure needed to support such an undertaking. The latter half of the book offers a close case study of artisanal work in the village of Olinalá, Guerrero, where craftspeople have fashioned beautiful lacquered boxes, chests, gourds, tableware, masks,...

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