Mixe - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Families extend solidarity and economic reciprocity by establishing fictiveor ritual-kinship ties, often at life-cycle celebrations. Reciprocal ritual-kinship relations may be between two families or extended into highly elaborate, interwoven networks within the community and beyond it. Mixe age sets involve an array of roles and obligations related to the politico-religious organization. Kinship terms are used to address nonkin on the basis of age relative to the speaker. Except for that of the elders, Mixe age sets are noncorporate and serve to underscore the status of villagers as equals, juniors, and seniors.

Dancers and musicians are organized into formal groupings. There are also communal work groups and informal groups for agricultural production and other daily activities. The construction of new roads linking the Mixe region with the national economy has led to incipient class formation in the form of large retail enterprises and a truck-owning elite.

Political Organization. The Mixe region is composed of territorial districts, divided into a number of municipios and an administrative head town. Each municipio administers its own affairs and those of smaller villages and farms within its territorial boundaries. Villages are divided typically into two landowning divisions or wards. Civil officials are chosen from each ward in alternating years; kin groups tend to be ward localized. Except for the secretary, elected town officials receive no salary and work as a community service. Refusal leads to banishment. Positions are ranked in a hierarchy and prestige is largely related to the kinds of positions a man has held in the political and religious organizations. A formal, corporate organization that owns land or cattle provides for the administration, upkeep, and religious services of the village church. In addition, there is a complex hierarchy of religious officials appointed by the civil officials and village elders. Each of these religious officials or "stewards" is required to provide work, goods, and funds for a village feast lasting from one to several days.

Social Control. Grievances resulting from theft, inheritance, debts, and drunkenness are handled by town courts; major crimes, such as homicide, by the district court. Informal mechanisms of social control include fear of gossip, threats of sorcery, and ostracism from social life. A strong deterrent is the belief that anger and aggression cause illness and death.

Conflict. Quarrels arising from village boundary disputes and religious factionalism are adjudicated by the state government. In conflicts within the kin group, lineal relatives or in-laws will often act as mediators. In nonkin conflicts, apart from self-help and recourse to sorcery, the case proceeds to the court.

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