Between Regions: Conversation with Pedro Tomé and Andrés Fábregas

Receipt: March 4, 2021

Acceptance: June 21, 2021

Full interview

Two leading regional scholars, Andrés Fábregas and Pedro Tomé, discussed how they came to study regions and how they collaborated to work together to study some of them. Both began studying communities: Andrés in the 1960s and Pedro in the 1980s. However, by "imposition of reality," as Pedro points out, they moved on to the study of regions. They observed how communities had commercial, kinship, festive and symbolic relationships beyond themselves. Thus, they focused on the network of relationships formed independently of administrative divisions.

Pedro Tomé has studied regions in the Corneja valley, in the upper Alberche valley and in the Sierra de Gredos, in the province of Avila, Spain. He has also written about the Altos de Jalisco and the Gran Chichimeca in Mexico. Another topic of his interest has been the relationship between nature and culture, with its consequent reflection from an ecological anthropology and cultural ecology. Part of his work has been carried out as a member of the Instituto de Lengua, Literatura y Antropología belonging to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, in Madrid. He is editor of the anthropology journal Disparitiesan important point of diffusion for the discipline.

Andrés Fábregas has excelled in his study of regions in the states of Jalisco, Morelos, Veracruz and Chiapas. Throughout his life he has had the opportunity to collaborate and learn with outstanding personalities of anthropology in Mexico, such as Guillermo Bonfil, Ángel Palerm, Pedro Carrasco and Johanna Faulhaber. His work as a manager in the foundation of networks, schools, journals, institutions, research centers and study programs in the area of social sciences has also been outstanding, a work that is little recognized in the evaluation made by official institutions of academic careers. In addition to his work on the regions, he has written about border issues, cultural ecology, the Gran Chichimeca and soccer. In the latter, he is a fan of Club Guadalajara. He is currently a researcher at Ciesas Occidente.

Pedro Tomé and Andrés Fábregas, in the 1990s, converged in the study of the Altos de Jalisco in Mexico and the Sierra de Ávila in Spain. They were struck by the common landscape between both regions, and that landscape, built by human activity, could reveal similar processes. Interesting publications resulted from this meeting.

Both are examples of the value of doing research as a team, a situation not favored by the tendency to do research individually, since institutions usually evaluate personal performance. In the dialogue they tell how useful interviews in pairs are, especially when one of the two is a foreigner and can ask the uncomfortable questions: in their case, about the Cristero rebellion in the Highlands of Jalisco or the Spanish Civil War in the province of Avila.

After the research is finished, if we can speak of a term, there remain several anecdotes from the fieldwork; of the total number of events experienced, there remains a wealth of stories to tell. These, beyond how attractive or interesting they may be, are revealing of the historical processes in which the subjects participate. They are punctual evidence of other phenomena. For example, Pedro recounted the differences that occurred when he and Andrés interviewed a priest in the highlands of Jalisco and another in a town in the province of Avila. How and where the conversations took place pointed out to them the role of the Church and its position in society in both regions.

Pedro and Andrés talked about the ways of interacting with each other by exploring the regions: drinking beers, playing cards, knowing how to tell jokes and other ways to get close to the people under study to talk, play and laugh with them, and at the same time to permeate their culture and get to know them. These interactions give rise to affection and friendships. They are coexistence in the heat of a campfire in which each researcher "must accept a certain alteration of his or her vision of the world," as Andrés pointed out. An interculturality that goes back and forth.

These affections seem to be hidden by a fear that the research will lose merit because it is not objective. Pedro pointed out that research is not incompatible with making friends. He spoke of the "double estrangement" that happens when researching, where one is not only surprised by what one sees but also by how the researcher observes. He also pointed out the differences in the processes of production and the processes of expression.

The interviewees started in communities and moved on to the regions. They have returned to them several times, which has allowed them to observe them from a distance and reflect on their research with new eyes. They return to the region because, as Andrés points out, the anthropologist's training does not stop until he or she leaves this world. Thus, they always take with them what they have experienced in the field. There is a lived region that accompanies the researcher permanently.


Rafael Omar Mojica González D. in Social Sciences from the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social sede Occidente, Master in History (Interdisciplinary Historical Studies) from the University of Guanajuato and Bachelor in Sociology from the University of Guadalajara. He has worked the region of Los Altos de Jalisco from different aspects. He began with themes of regional economic history and historical demography, later adding questions of ethnic identity, interpretations of the origins of the inhabitants and racism.

Pedro Tomé has studied regions in the Corneja valley, in the upper Alberche valley and in the Sierra de Gredos, in the province of Avila, Spain. He has also written about the Altos de Jalisco and the Gran Chichimeca in Mexico. Another topic of interest has been the relationship between nature and culture with its consequent reflection from an ecological anthropology and cultural ecology. Part of his work has been carried out as a member of the Instituto de Lengua, Literatura y Antropología belonging to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid. He is editor of the anthropological journal DisparitiesThe event is an important focus of dissemination for the discipline.

Andres Fabregas Puig is an ethnologist specializing in ethnohistory and holds a master's degree in Anthropological Sciences from the National School of Anthropology and History, a doctorate in Anthropological Sciences from the National School of Anthropology and History, and a Ph. ciesas-Mexico. He is a founding member of the Department of Anthropology of the uam-Iztapalapa and ciesas-He has also contributed to the reorganization of the Chiapas Institute of Culture. He has taught anthropology in several Latin American countries, in Spain and in Mexican universities. He has published books, essays, articles, reviews and popularization texts; he is a member of the National System of Researchers.

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EncartesVol. 4, No. 8, September 2021-February 2022, is an open access digital academic journal published biannually by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Calle Juárez, No. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, A. C.., Carretera Escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, No. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, No. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434. Contact: encartesantropologicos@ciesas.edu.mx. Director of the journal: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Hosted at https://encartes.mx. Responsible for the last update of this issue: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Date last modified: September 29, 2021.
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