Seminar: Critical Approaches to Migration: Inquiry into the Social and Historical Construction of Culture

Alison Elizabeth Lee, PhD

Universidad de las Américas Puebla

The notion of culture embraced by anthropologists since the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries derived from Enlightenment thought. Diversity in practices and beliefs stemmed from the acquisition of knowledge and habits by individuals as members of social groups in specific contexts. Anthropologists and others used cultural relativism to combat racism and anti-immigrant sentiment as well as to study and explain cultural difference. However, the lack of historical contextualization of culture in unequal fields of power—a legacy of theoretical approaches that never grappled with the implications of colonialism and imperialism—led to the creation of models of essentialized identities and hardened boundaries of cultural difference. Across seemingly rigid cultural divides, the dehumanization of racial, ethnic, and gendered “Others” justifies structural, institutional and direct forms of violence. In the two readings selected for this seminar, we will confront the “dark side” of the culture concept by examining how the authors discuss Triqui culture and its intersection with migration.


What are the elements of Triqui culture the authors select for their discussions?

How do they historically contextualize Triqui culture?

How is this discussion of Triqui culture important for understanding the Triqui’s national and international migration flows?




May 20, 2019 – 16h-18h

Harlan Koff (harlan.koff (@)