Downtown Oaxaca

Oaxaca City, Photo by Roman Lopez on Unsplash

During the holidays, I will be visiting the city of Oaxaca de Juárez. In addition to visiting touristic places close to the city such as Hierve el Agua, El Árbol del Tule and the archeological sites of Monte Albán and Mitla, I also plan to systematically document the linguistic landscape of downtown Oaxaca. This is a project that I am most eager to start because one way of understanding the essence of a city is through the linguistic signs displayed on its public domain. Oaxaca City is a place where several cultures interact and this diversity is present in a mirad of cultural artifacts, including the presence of English.

Languages in the state of Oaxaca by SIL International [1]

A previous research paper by Sayer [2] analyzed the potential of harnessing linguistic landscape methodology. In his analysis of the uses of English in public displays around Oaxaca City, he discovered six different ways in which people in Oaxaca City used English to convey messages related to:

  • Advance and sophistication
  • Fashion
  • Being cool
  • Sex(y)(ness)
  • Expressions of love
  • Expressing subversive identities

According to my quick search on Google Maps, downtown Oaxaca has an extension of approximately 1.6 by 1.4 kms (around 1 x 0.9 miles), and it is comprised by some 180 blocks (15 x 12) for a total length of 24 kms. I am pretty sure that if I walk 5 kilometers per day, I will be able to document the whole downtown area in five days time. However, I need to remember to save some energy for all of the things I want to do in Oaxaca. Here is a small list of places one can visit around the city:

  • Andador Macedonio Alcalá
  • Ex Convento Betlemitas
  • Ex Convento de la Soledad
  • Iglesia de San Agustín
  • Iglesia del Carmen Bajo
  • Instituto de Artes Gráficas
  • Jardín Antonia Labastida
  • Jardín Sócrates
  • Mercado 20 de Noviembre
  • Mercado Benito Juárez
  • Mercado de Artesanías
  • Museo Casa Juárez
  • Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca
  • Museo Regional de Oaxaca
  • Museo Rufino Tamayo
  • Palacio de Gobierno
  • Paseo Juárez
  • Plaza de la Danza
  • Plazuela del Carmen Alto
  • Teatro Macedonio
  • … and so on and so on..

In fact, I found a rather nice guide from Culture Trip on what to do in Oaxaca City which points out several cultural events, foods and places to visit. I fully recommend it if you are interested in the culture of Oaxaca, although I will write a comprehensive guide of my travel to the city later on in January.

The petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, MX. Photo by analuisa gamboa on Unsplash

Resources

References

  • [1] Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2019. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-second edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.ezproxy2.library.arizona.edu.
  • [2] Sayer, P. (2009). Using the linguistic landscape as a pedagogical resource. ELT journal64(2), 143-154.

Parade and Carnival of the Day of the Dead in Iztapalapa

Iztapalapa is one of the 16 zones or boroughs (delegaciones in Spanish) in Mexico City, and the most populated one. On November 1st, Iztapalapa Mayor’s Office held a parade/carnival across its streets. The following video was shot for the cultural center El Transformador. Enjoy!

“Parade and Carnival of the Day of the Dead in the First Iztapalapa Mayor’s Office held on November 1, 2019, with the participation of various cultural organizations and the Iztapalapense citizenship. Video made by the Guerreros Cine Collective of the Film and TV Workshop of the Arts and Crafts Center El Transformador.”

Hispanic Cities on Film: Urban Theory in the Freshman Seminar

Following up on that last post–you can use the same link to access the article by Susan Divine at Westminster College co-authored with Benjamin Jones titled “Hispanic Cities on Film: Urban Theory in the Freshman Seminar” which is accompanied by an example syllabus/appendix. A fantastic read and a must for anyone integrating urban studies and cultural analysis at the undergraduate level whether in Hispanic Studies or another discipline.

Lefebvre on Culture: Sleeping Beauty image

I’m working on a much larger project about Lefebvre and the humanities and came across this quotation embedded in a discussion of Marxism and aesthetic questions:

“It so happens that the word ‘culture’ also evokes a magical image for me, that of Sleeping Beauty. She does not doze on flowers and on fragrant grass but on a thick mattress of texts, quotations, musical scores—and under a vast canopy of books, sociological, semiological, historical and philosophical theses. Then one day the Prince comes; he awakens her and everything around the forest comes to life along with her—poets poetizing, musicians musicking, cooks cooking, lovers loving, and so on. Singers? Songs? Yes, they are a part of culture, yet they must not be considered in isolation but within an ensemble that also includes dance, music, cartoon strips, television, and so forth. Moreover, culture is not merely a static palimpsest of texts, it is lived, active, which is what the fable of the wakened princess suggests to me.”

Take it for what it’s worth, but what I like about this image is how it expresses Lefebvre’s central position on culture–which of course dispenses with the ‘base-superstructure’ model that people like to equate with Marxism more generally (and which Lefebvre contradicts head-on in the Critique of Everyday Life). Not merely do a variety of cultural products form a (complex) ensemble, they also spring to life in that very moment when “Sleeping Beauty’s” “sociological, semiological, historical and philosophical” knowledge is awakened (and not a second later).