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Pathways of PowerBuilding an Anthropology of the Modern World$
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Eric Wolf

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223332

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223332.001.0001

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The Virgin of Guadalupe

The Virgin of Guadalupe

A Mexican National Symbol

(p.139) 9 The Virgin of Guadalupe
Pathways of Power

Eric R. Wolf

University of California Press

This chapter attempts to unravel the different strands and levels of motivation and interest that were historically brought together into a powerful collective representation. It represents an effort to analyze a national master symbol as a manifold of heterogeneous referents drawn from various traditions of ethnicity, class, and region and combined into a multifunctional unity through intersecting signs. A symbol is encountered that seems to enshrine the major hopes and aspirations of an entire society. The Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, represents such a master symbol. Cultural forms provide the cultural idiom of behavior and ideal representations through which different groups in a society can pursue and manipulate their different fates within a coordinated framework. The Guadalupe symbol links together family, politics, and religion; colonial past and independent present; Indian and Mexican. It reflects the salient social relationships of Mexican life and embodies the emotions they generate.

Keywords:   Virgin of Guadalupe, social relationships, national master symbol, cultural forms, Mexican life

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