Fast Food in the Colonia: A Self Organizing Network in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Convenience foods play an increasingly important role in middle class lifestyles in the United States and around the world. Mexico is not an exception. McDonalds, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken are only a few of the fast food establishments that pepper the urban and suburban communities across Mexico. In addition to fast food, Mexican supermarkets, like supermarkets around the world, feature food that is ready to “heat and eat” to purchase and take home. These kinds of convenience products are just as appealing to Mexican families living at lower economic statuses, with incomes that do not allow them to indulge in “fast” and convenience foods from markets and restaurants. Informal neighborhood networks take the place of commercial convenience food outlets in many Mexican neighborhoods. This paper presents a model of an informal economic network operating in a colonia (neighborhood) on the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juarez, the capital city of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. This network provides ready to eat alternatives to meal preparation, as well as other kinds of services and products in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of offerings. The emergent and self-organizing properties of this network are analyzed using principles derived from Wheatley’s work in organizational theory.


Keywords: Networks, Self Organizing Groups, Mexico, Oaxaca, Convenience Foods, Ethnography
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Kimberly Porter Martin

Professor of Anthropology, Sociology and Anthropology Department, University of La Verne
La Verne, California, USA

Dr. Kim Martin earned a B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University, an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Martin's areas of specialization include cognitive and psychological anthropology, gender, intercultural communication, ethnic identity and group affiliation, the U.S., Europe, Mesoamerica and the Pacific. Her current interests involve theory as it applies to identity and affiliation in a globalizing world, and the properties and dynamics of self-organizing groups. Her current fieldwork focuses on how ethnic identity is constructed by Europeans in the era of the European Union and on self-organizing groups in Mexico. Dr. Martin teaches a variety of anthropology and student research courses. In 1996, she received the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from the University of La Verne. She has also served as a multicultural consultant, leading workshops for educational, government and professional organizations.

Ref: I08P0306