Imagining the West: (Im)mobility, Social Media and Indigenous Youth in Chiapas, México

Marie Heřmanová
2016 unpublished
Th is article examines the collective and individual imageries of the "West" developed by young indigenous people living in the suburbs of the Mexican city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Massive rural-urban migration has occurred in Chiapas in the last four decades, creating the infamous "poverty belts" in the suburbs of San Cristóbal. Th e inhabitants of these suburban areas are mostly of indigenous (Tzotzil or Tzeltal) origin and they earn their living by selling craft work to tourists
more » ... g the colonial city centre. Th e everyday interactions with tourists together with online interactions via social networking sites create a landscape of an "Imaginary West" (Yurchak 1995)-an unseen, yet ever-present homeland of the tourists and, most importantly, a place where "better lives" happen. Using the concept of "technol-ogies of imagination" (Sneath, Holbraad and Pedersen 2009), the article analyzes the "Imag-inary West" as a set of imaginative practices that signifi cantly shape the way in which young Tzotziles and Tzeltales construct their identity and negotiate their place in their immediate (offl ine) environment. Th e article is based on my long-term fi eld research in San Cristóbal fo-cusing on the relationship between mobility patterns, identity and imagination in a margin-alized urban environment.