Cultural Anthropology

Beverly Newbold Chinas book, La Zandunga: Of fieldwork and friendship in southern Mexico, is a personal reflection combined with research results concerning the Isthmus Zapotec culture in 1966. Intrigued by beautiful pictures and a tantalizing description of Zapotec culture, Chinas decided to do herfirst fieldwork here among the Zapotec. Her primary interest was gender. More specifically, Zapotec women were the focal point because of their perceived strength and independence.
Chinas mentions the fact that she has always had an interest in women and women’s status. She was fascinated with “The frankness of Zapotec women, their rather loose use of strong language, and their social and economic independence give them a position of equality with men, and a self-reliance that is unique in Mexico” (Chinas 5). I am given the impression that a lot of her interest in Zapotec women can be linked to the social movement occurring in the United States.
During the 1960’s the United States was in turmoil. Society that we were familiarized with was quickly becoming unfamiliar. Women’s Liberation was rapidly sweeping America. Therefore, Chinas research was based on a cultural society whose values were those American women sought to gain.
When comparing the Isthmus Zapotec with the United States, Chinas research suggests that personality traits commonly called masculine or feminine are vaguely related to sex/gender. Within a society, the socialization process through out childhood cultivates typical personality differences between the sexes. With education and adult modeling children are trained to conform to these differences. Therefore, the evidence that Chinas has presented is overwhelmingly in favor of social conditioning as the determining factor.
On the other hand, there are some distinguishing differences. Much of Mexico is poverty-stricken, but only in economic terms. There is a richness of spirit here. Wheth…

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