Driving the State: Families and Public Policy in Central Mexico / Edition 1

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Overview

In her absorbing ethnography of the everyday practice of public policy, Dolores M. Byrnes focuses on Mi Comunidad, a job-creation program founded in 1996 by Vicente Fox when he was governor of Guanajuato. This program was intended to reduce migration and became an important source of empowerment for small businesses in rural Mexico. A significant aspect of the program is the way it encourages former residents who have successfully migrated to the United States to invest in the maquilas back home. Byrnes's close look at policy implementation reveals changing relationships between families and the state.Working as a volunteer in Mi Comunidad, Byrnes attempted to understand how the program worked. As she traveled from site to site with the two female state employees who implemented the program's policies, she saw that program practices reproduced middle-class values rather than female solidarity. In spite of this, she argues for the potential of female professional power, with implications for democracy and social justice. Perhaps most interesting of all, Byrnes portrays the formation of nonborder maquilas in rich detail and shows how government employees at the local level personally engage in "driving the state."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The work of Byrnes remains a valuable anthropological resource, which both documents policy orientations in a neo-liberal period and exemplifies the interplay between writing ethnography and invoking the vocabulary of metaphors. It also suggests some fruitful potential for cross-disciplinary research between the anthropology of development and political science."—Alberto Arce, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, September 2004

"A welcome contribution to our discipline: a local level and personal analysis of everyday practices of state employees in the implementation of public policy. The book focuses on Mi Comunidad, a state program Vicente Fox, now president of Mexico, founded in 1996 when he was governor of Guanajuato. . . . Byrnes's examination must be applauded in that it moves beyond current scholarship on several important points. Most studies on maquila industry center on international border maquilas, especially along the Mexico-United States border. By honing in on Mi Comunidad in Guanajuato in Central Mexico, Driving the State alerts the readers that maquilas exist outside of the border context, and, more importantly, offers new, broader, and different insights for scholarship analyzing maquilas and, indeed, also for border and migration studies. Simultaneously, this study of a state within the Republic of Mexico foregrounds Mexico's federalism, focusing on the relative power of one state rather than a limited centralist perspective that still characterizes much of the analysis on Mexican politics and citizens."—Gillian E. Newell, Anthropological Quarterly, Spring 2004

"Driving the State achieves much more than simply telling the story of the strengths and weaknesses of the Mi Comunidad project. The case study is nested in a multilevel account that illuminates politics, economics, culture, and gender in contemporary Mexico and that is linked to a commendable range of literature in a host of disciplines."—Susan Tiano, University of New Mexico

"In a riveting account of her participation in the Mi Comunidad program, Dolores Byrnes illuminates the everyday exchanges of public policy by focusing on the individuals behind 'the state.' Byrnes's keen powers of observation, sophisticated analysis, and elegant writing make this book both necessary and pleasurable reading for all who seek to understand politics and public policy in contemporary Mexico."—Maria Lorena Cook, Cornell University

"Dolores Byrnes helps us conceptualize 'the state' in Latin America and understand the personal and gendered ways power is embodied. Her provocative book will attract a broad audience and interest readers in a number of fields."—William French, University of British Columbia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801488597
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Las Comadres 1
Ch. 1 Personal Practices 19
Ch. 2 Business Deals 38
Ch. 3 Social Work 48
Ch. 4 The DACGE Office 65
Ch. 5 Pa'l Norte 81
Ch. 6 Work in Textile Maquilas 102
Ch. 7 Las Muchachas 113
Ch. 8 Evasions 138
Conclusion: Stopping to Ask for Directions 158
Appendixes 183
Notes 191
Bibliography 199
Index 215
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