There is a saying, Dime con quien andes y te diré quien eres: Tell me with
whom you roam, and I’ll tell you who you are. Over the years through
which this book has emerged, I have wandered and roamed with many
people along many di√erent paths, with diverse itineraries and some-
times divergent destinations. As with any book, there is never any ade-
quate way to acknowledge all of them. Yet it is impossible not to try to
express my appreciation to those for whom I feel an enduring gratitude
and a√ection.
In the first place, the ethnography that supplies the foundation for this
book emerged from innumerable conversations and controversies, di-
alogues and disputes, interviews and interruptions, in which countless
people shared with me their poignantly critical perspectives as well as
their most sincere and heartfelt prejudices. I am confident that what
ensues in the chapters of this book will provide some modest testament
to the many lessons that they variously taught me with their intelligence,
ingenuity, humor, and resilience. I am hopeful, furthermore, that this
book may make yet another contribution to the unresolved quarrels and
vexing dilemmas with which we struggled together. Now as then, we must
‘‘make the road by walking.’’
This book first took shape as my doctoral dissertation at the Univer-
sity of Chicago. I was fortunate during my career as a doctoral student to
have had several outstanding teachers, each of whom made his or her
unique contribution to the ultimate formulation of this study in its ear-
lier incarnation as a Ph.D. thesis. The members of my doctoral commit-
tee—Raymond T. Smith, Jean Comaro√, Michael Kearney, Claudio
Lomnitz-Adler, and Terence Turner—should each be able to see traces of
the respective paths that we walked together. In particular, what I have
sought to do in this study—the questions that I have posed, and the
manner in which I have sought to explore those questions—would never
have been possible had it not been for the enduring and critical influence
of my adviser, Raymond Smith. My thinking has also been deeply in-
spired by the late Bernard Cohn. My years in the Department of An-
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