LAII Lecture Focuses on Oaxacan Mezcal

October 21, 2013

The UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) is pleased to announce the fourth presentation in its Fall 2013 Lecture Series: "Oaxacan Mezcal and the Making of a Transnational Prestige Commodity" with Dr. Ronda Brulotte, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and a faculty affiliate with the LAII. The presentation will be held Wednesday, October 23, 2013, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in the LAII Conference Room. Please see the event flyer for reference.

Brulotte holds a PhD in cultural anthropology and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests focus on global tourism, art and material culture, and the politics of food and heritage in Mexico. In 2012, she published Between Art and Artifact: Archaeological Replicas and Cultural Production in Oaxaca, Mexico(University of Texas Press). According to the publisher, "Exploring the intriguing question of authenticity and its relationship to cultural forms in Oaxaca and throughout southern Mexico, Between Art and Artifact confronts an important issue that has implications well beyond the commercial realm...Demonstrating that identity politics lies at the heart of the controversy, Brulotte provides a nuanced inquiry into what it means to present 'authentic' cultural production in a state where indigenous ethnicity is part of an awkward social and racial classification system."

Brulotte is currently working on a second book project that deals with the production of Oaxacan mezcal for a transnational consumer market. This talk emerges from that research to address the sociologically complex field of production, marketing, consumption, and connoisseurship surrounding Oaxacan mezcal as it emerges within the global market. Mezcal is an alcoholic spirit made by distilling the fermented juice from agave, a spiky-leafed member of the lily family that is related to the century plant--the same plant used to produce tequila. However, while tequila has enjoyed vast commercial success at home and abroad since the 1970s, until the late 1990s mezcal remained a regional drink, produced on a relatively small scale for local consumption, and was virtually unknown outside of Mexico. Mezcal from the southern state of Oaxaca is currently undergoing a dramatic transformation into a high-end, prestige commodity that is now produced for export to the U.S., Europe, South Africa, and Japan.