Introduction
We really like speaking Zapotec. We speak it because it is our
language—the language that our parents and their parents spoke.
Even though they teach us another language in school and other
kinds of customs and traditions, we like being Zapotec. We can be
modern and Zapotec at the same time.—Carlota, age 17
Zapotec Women was originally published in 1991, based on fieldwork
carried out between 1983 and 1990. This updated edition contains
several new chapters. The idea of publishing a new version came from
the women of Teotitlán. A Spanish version of the first edition, Mujeres
zapotecas, was published in Mexico in 1998 by the Instituto Oaxaqueño
de las Culturas. In August 1999 we followed the wonderful Mexican cus-
tom of holding a party and forum when a new book appears. When a
book is launched in the United States, authors usually talk about their
own works, but in Mexico colleagues of the author, experts, and per-
sons who have a distinct perspective on the book’s topic offer comments
and analysis. At the launching of Mujeres zapotecas speakers included Mar-
garita Dalton, a historian and philosopher who at that time was Oaxaca’s
minister of culture; Josefina Aranda, a rural sociologist and expert on in-
digenous movements and politics and gender; Francisco González, my
compadre and research collaborator from Teotitlán; Isabel Hernández,
one of the founding members of Teotitlán’s first cooperative of women
weavers and president of the Asociación de las Mujeres Antiguas de Teo-
titlán del Valle; and Juana Pérez González, a member of Mujeres Que
Tejan, a continuation of the first women’s cooperative.
The women from Teotitlán offered praise for the first Spanish edition
of the book, saying it was interesting and accurate, but they had two criti-
cal comments as well. First, the woman pictured on the jacket had mar-
ried into the community; she was not from Teotitlán, so how could she
represent them? Apparently a photographer from the Oaxaca Ministry
of Culture had been assigned to go and take a picture of a woman weav-
ing and didn’t think to ask who she was. For the women from the weaving
cooperatives, this was a problem that needed to be corrected. Second,
the book ended too soon; it said nothing about the developments of the
1990s, especially the flowering of women’s weaving cooperatives in the
community. Isabel, Juana, and other women from Teotitlán declared that
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