Chapter 12 - Abstract and author bios

12. On the Nature of Patrimonio: “Cultural Property” in Mexican Contexts

Sandra Rozental

This chapter explores the concept of “cultural property” in Mexican contexts where artifacts and monuments from the pre-Hispanic past are claimed as state-owned national patrimony. Through an ethnography of a specific artifact’s relocation from the town of Coatlinchan to the National Anthropology Museum, this chapter shows how the Mexican regime of patrimonio severs objects considered the instantiations of national “culture” from “nature” and, thus, from their locations and source communities. This legal extrication does not represent the actual entanglements of objects, sites and persons, and serves to deny actors’ claims, property rights, and other kinds of attachments to ancient material culture.

Sandra Rozental received her PhD in Anthropology from New York University in 2012 and is an Assistant Professor at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. Her work explores the tangible residues of pre-Hispanic civilizations in Mexico by way of national patrimony claims on artifacts, territories and landscapes. She co-directed the feature-length documentary “The Absent Stone” (2013) with Jesse Lerner; has published “In the Wake of Mexican Patrimonio: Material Ecologies in San Miguel Coatlinchan”, Anthropological Quarterly 89.1 (2016) and “Stone Replicas: The Iteration and Itinerancy of Mexican Patrimonio”, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19.2 (2014); and co-edited the special dossier “Matters of Patrimony: Anthropological Theory and the Materiality of Replication in Contemporary Latin America”, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 21.1 (2016).