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Transcript of Mexico
by Lyndsay Reed
December 1, 2014
1500 BC: The first major mesoamerican civilization forms: The Olmecs
600 BC: Other groups emerge from common Olmec heritage: the Maya, Zapotec, Teotihuacán civilizations
(Olmec head sculpture)
250: Maya civilization reaches its peak: excelling at pottery, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, and writing
1325: Aztecs migrate to central Mexico and form intricate potitical, social, economic, artistic, and intellectual empire.
(Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlán)
1519: Cortés and other Spanish explorers begin imperialism in the Americas. Conquistadors succeed by exploiting rivalries between mesoamerican groups, burning food supplies, gunpowder, horses, and most of all: disease. Over 50% of indigenous people died from viruses and disease at first contact with Europeans.
(Spanish fighting the Aztecs)
(Meeting of Aztecs and Cortes, a mural by Roberto Cueva del Río)
Spanish raid Latin America for natural resources to trade in Europe. Indigenous people are forced into working in deadly labor, including architects, engineers, astronomers, surgeons, destroying knowledge of incredible advances. Conquest left humiliation, religious disintegration, a fragmented cultural and social identity, and syncretism with invasive European cultures.
Colonization builds the foundation for the industrial development of Europe while mutilating the land, culture, economy, and people in Mexico.
1808: Napoleon takes power in Spain and increased injustices in Mexico set off revolutionary action
1846: US invasion of Mexico: US seizes half of Mexican land
1858: Civil war between liberals and conservatives over reforms
1861: Benito Júarez emerges from war victorious as new president. He resists French occupation of Mexico, restores the republic, and institutes reforms for equality for indigenous people (being of Zapotec origin himself).
(Benito Júarez on a 20 peso bill)
1910: Popular leaders Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa rally support as working class revolutionaries. They wage war against the dictators for 10 years.
1877: After Juarez's death, Porfirio Díaz takes control and rules as a dictator.
His investment in industry and international trade brings wealth to the upper classes, but the inequality between them and the poor majority brews dissatisfaction.
1921: President Calles forms the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controls the country in a one-party rule until 1997, is involved in corruption, electoral fraud, and many human rights abuses .
1938: The oil industry is nationalized, creating state-owned oil company Pemex, causing substantial economic
(modern reenactment of Mayan scribe)
(Zapotec palace at Mitla, Oaxaca)
1821: With the Treaty of Córdoba, Mexico becomes an independent country.
(a mural by Juan O´Gorman depicting "El Grito de Dolores", the cry that sparked the revolution)
growth, though great economic inequality continued to cause discontent.
2012: Current president Enrique Peña Nieto takes office. The major issues to address during this presidency include reducing poverty, corruption, homicides, and drug trafficking.
(current President Enrique Peña Nieto )
Individualism vs. Collectivism
Mexico is overall more:
Mexico is moderate in its collectivism, closer to the middle of the spectrum than many other Latin American countries, but is pushed to the collectivist side as a result of the following:
Family (including extended family and family friends) is a close, long-term commitment
Strong relationships and being part of in-groups are highly valued
Loyalty within these groups is more important than individual ambitions
Group harmony and team-based work is preferred
Vertical vs. Horizontal
Mexico is overall more:
High vs Low Context
High vs. Low Power Distance
High vs. Low Uncertainty Avoidance
Masculine vs. Feminine
Mexico has overall a:
High Power Distance
Mexico has a:
Mexico is overall more:
High Uncertainty Avoidance
Mexico has a high uncertainty avoidance as a result of:
Strong preference for tradition, especially through religion and, specifically, Catholicism. The Catholic Church has incredible influence over society.
Though in recent years, the younger generations have been experimenting more, the majority of the population dislikes unorthodox behaviors and ideas
The government uses harsh methods (including human rights abuses, torture, and fear) to control the population and avoid the unexpected
There is incredible wealth disparity and gaps between the rich and poor.
The indigenous people are frequently treated as second class citizens. They are among the nation's poorest and face human rights abuses, poor living conditions, and infringement on land rights.
(aeriel view of Mexico City, demonstrating the wealth inequality)
People accept the hierarchical order.
In government, schools, work, and family structures, subordinates are expected to submit to authority.
Most power is defined by wealth or birth, not by earned power. People gain credibility through connections.
Higher status people are expected to be treated with respect and submission.
Authority (such as bosses, teachers and parents) is not questioned. Lower status people have little or no participation in decision-making.
Gender roles are very strongly encouraged.
"Machismo" can be a defining cultural aspect of gender for many males. It is an ideal for males of being powerful and aggressive. It can also include dominance to women as desireable.
Women are expected to do household duties with submission and men to support the family with finances, authority, and strength.
Women face discrimination and gender-based violence. There have been thousands of murdered women every year, without effective investigations and justice.
Mexico is more:
The social status of individuals greatly influences communication and interactions
Actions and the manner in which communications are delivered are important in interactions
There are unspoken social rules and etiquette for how to address people of different status (for example: using the formal Usted form in Spanish to demonstrate respect).
Tradition: Both in the Catholic religion and in traditional Mexican culture with food, costumes, celebrations and more
Family: including extended family and family friends
Relationships: Forming strong relationships and maintaining loyalty override most other societal obligations
(preserving culture by passing traditional clothing on to the next generation)
(Mexican pottery figurines: left, men; right, women)
Visit markets, festivals, museums, and zócalos (town squares) to immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of Mexico in Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Puebla. There are always great food carts (cocinas callejeras) to try authentic Mexican food at. Markets are great to explore traditional handcrafts, Mexican candies (dulces), and hear street performer's music.
Mexico was home to incredibly advanced cultures precolonization. Visit Mayan architecture in Palenque and Chichen Itza, and Aztec architecture in Teotihuacan.
The nature in Mexico has unparalleled beauty. Visit stunning beaches in Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, Mazatlán, and more. Enjoy ecotourism by visiting the Basaltic Prisms in Hidalgo, climbing volcanos such as Popocatépetl, or snorkeling in coral reefs off the Gulf Coast.
Basic Travel Advice
Know at least some basic Spanish phrases. (Watch the video at the right to learn some useful phrases.)
Understand Mexican money. $1 USD is equal to about 14 pesos. Try to always carry spare change and coins- A lot of small businesses won't accept large bills.
(These signs say $5 and $4, but the price is not in US dollars. Mexicans also use this sign $ to signify pesos.)
Drink bottled water, not tap, to avoid getting sick.
Research the weather and timezones of the areas you'll be visiting. It is a large country, spanning 3 different time zones. Some areas are extremely hot and sunny (wear sunscreen!) and some are at high altitudes and can be cold and rainy.
Mexican cuisine is a mixture of European and indigenous ingredients and techniques. Indigenous people mainly ate corn, beans, peppers, spices and herbs, tomatoes, and squash before European colonization. Livestock (beef, pork, chicken, sheep), sugar cane, dairy (especially cheese), and wheat were then introduced to their diet.
(Left: A man cutting the meat for the tacos al pastor on right)
(Tamales are traditional prehispanic food but were altered by colonization, now with european livestock fillings)
(Mole is a sauce made from chocolate, a sacred ingredient in Aztec times, now served over chicken and meats introduced from Europe.)
Mexico produces several alcoholic beverages from the agave plant including tequila, pulque, and mezcal.
(Conchas are a type of pan dulce or sweet bread made in Mexico from French influences)
(Man making churros)
(Woman selling aguas frescas, beverages made from freshly squeezed fruit)
(Cemita, a sandwich similar to a torta)
Most of Mexico today dresses the same as we do in the USA: jeans, t-shirts, sneakers... especially in the big cities. However there are many types traditional garb that are worn by indigenous people or as costumes during special celebrations.
(Traditional Maya dress, often worn during parades & celebrations)
(Mexican woman dressed in huipil)
(Man in a sarape)
(Men in charro costume (akin to a Mexican cowboy) and a woman in an Escaramuza dress)
(Indigenous Huichol women in daily traditional dress)
Mexico produces many types of original folk crafts including:
Pottery & Ceramics
Paper Crafts (Paper mache & cut paper banners)
Dia de los Muertos
Cinco de Mayo
Dia de la Independencia
A five-day celebration with parades, costumes, dancing, and indulgence before the beginning of the fasting in Lent.
This holiday commemorates The Battle of Puebla where the Mexicans defeated the French army in 1862. It is a source of pride and celebration of freedom.
Celebrated on September 16th, the day of the "Grito de Dolores", when Miguel Hidalgo gave a famous speech to mark the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The speech is recreated in nearly every town at midnight on this day.
Families show respect for their deceased loved ones by decorating altars in their homes and graves for the spirits who will return on November 1st and 2nd.
Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
This celebrates the appearance of Mary to a Mexican man and her message of love for all mankind in 1531. It is celebrated with a Mass and a feat on December 12th.
Families reenact Mary and Joseph searching for an inn in candlelight processions. The celebration lasts for nine days, starting December 16th.
Read about even more celebrations here:
Celebrations and Holidays
After the hit of category 4 Hurricane Odile in the Baja peninsula on Sunday and its continued trek northward, Mexican authorities have been evacuating coastal areas and readying shelters for up to 30,000 people. These shelters could be lifesaving for many of the poor who do not have the means to travel to escape the storm and whose houses’ poor construction may not survive hurricane forces. In addition to heavy rains, dangers also include flooding, ruinous waves, winds, and mudslides. Officials say Odile is “highly dangerous” and have deployed marines and police in preparation for the damage. (Weather)
The official Mexican Independence Day party hosted by the president in Mexico City was a disaster and, for many Mexicans, symbolically demonstrated the issues they have with the government. Due to the lowest approval ratings ever for the President, political parties had to bribe citizens with 100 pesos and a torta sandwich to attend and create an impressive-looking crowd. While there, young children were frisked by police, revelers yelled at the President's family in anger at their unequal wealth, and the Mexican flag fell at the most climactic point at the end of the military parade which was seen as a bad omen by many superstitious Mexicans. (Cultural events/Celebrations)
In an effort to increase the endangered Mexican gray wolf population, the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City has produced the first litter of artificially inseminated Mexican wolves. Conservation projects have been working to capture and breed the wild wolves, then reintroduce them and their offspring into the wild. When one captured wolf mother, 11 year old Ezita, could not conceive naturally, officials at the zoo attempted artificial insemination with success. This was a joint effort between conservation groups in Mexico and the United States, with Missouri supplying the genetic material of the father, Perkins. With the two new pups, the Mexican wolf population is gradually increasing. (Science)
The entire country is outraged since 43 students from Ayotzinapa teacher-training school went missing on September 27th. The students were protesting over job discrimination and teachers' rights when the mayor of Iguala's wife ordered police to open fire on the buses, killing six. The survivors were shoved into police cars and alleged to have been turned over to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel and tortured to death. Multiple mass graves have been found near Iguala but forensic experts have yet to confirm whether any bodies found are those of the missing students. The majority of the students were teens in their first semester at school. The tragedy has caused a nationwide outrage with protests, memorials and tributes to the students, forcing corrupt leaders and police out, locals joining in the search, strikes, and demands for reform. A student strike and march will be taking place on November 5th. (Politics)
The 22nd quadrennial Central American and Caribbean Games are being held this year in the city of Veracruz, Mexico. There are 31 different countries competing in 36 different sports including baseball, boxing, tae kwon do, rugby, and volleyball. So far Mexico is at the top of the charts from winning 22 gold medals, 10 silver, and 12 bronze. Cuba and Colombia are their greatest competition, as of now, 2 days into the competition. Since the first games in 1926, Cuba has overall won the most medals, with Mexico in second. (Sports)
Mexico has a wide range of diverse environments and climates throughout the country with mountains, arid deserts, humid rainforests, snowtopped volcanoes, tropical coasts, canyons, and savannas.
The built environment was very shaped by European colonization and much of the architecture is in Spanish or European styles with some prehispanic influences. European influence is also causing an ongoing change in the built environment by increased urbanization and increased rural to urban migration.
The differences in built environments in rural and urban settings cause great economic and social differences and therefore great impacts on communication when these classes meet.
Cities are built around a Zócalo or a town square, which greatly impact communication as meeting places to encourage and facilitate socializing and events.
Space: Mexicans prefer closeness and warmth and don't require as much personal space as people in the US. Maintaining a large distance can be seen as unfriendly.
Touch: Touch is very common with hugging, touching shoulders, slapping backs, and shaking hands. When meeting, it is common for a man and a woman or two women to kiss on the cheek.
Eye contact: Eye contact is infrequent. Looking directly in the eye between men can be seen as aggressive, or flirtatious between men and women. Averting the gaze can be seen as a sign of respect.
Vocalics: In communication, the words themselves matter less while inflection, tone of voice, and feelings are more emphasized.
Hand gestures: Hand gestures are used frequently in Mexico. The video at the right demonstrates some of the most commonly used hand gestures.
Non Verbal Communication
About 95% of the population speaks Spanish. The next most spoken are indigenous languages including Náhuatl, Maya, and Mixteco.
Speech is highly influenced by social hierarchies and class distinctions. How one speaks to people is based on social status, gender, class, and role. Superiors are addressed with the formal form of the word "you" ("usted") to indicate respect.
Eloquence is valued in verbal communication. Longer sentences will be used for greater eloquence.
Statements are frequently indirect to avoid confrontation. There is a strong dislike for saying "no" so frequently people will say "maybe" or be vague to avoid directly rejecting an idea.
See some Mexican expressions and slang here: