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Myth-Making and Mineral Water: Identity, Industry, and Indigeneity in Monterrey, Mexico


Since 1895, Compañía Topo Chico has bottled mineral water from the Topo Chico hot springs at the base of Cerro Topo in northern Monterrey, Mexico. Utilizing iconography and a fabricated myth of an Aztec princess, the company has capitalized on representations of indigenous women to market their product. To read this representation, I theorize the creation of cultural identity within Monterrey at the intersection of discursive and economic production, seeking to understand the evolution of ideas of indigeneity in the norteño understanding. I argue that the longevity and growth of this company reflects Monterrey’s corporate move to modernity and discursive sense of exceptionalism. Yet I decenter the role of regional identity with the advent of new national discourses following the Mexican Revolution and so indicate the power of the nation-state to control images and symbols in the national imaginary. However, the growing power of the post-revolutionary Mexican state manifested itself materially as well, as the government facilitated the privatization of the thermal waters and the consequent expansion of capitalist logics in Topo Chico. Lastly, I look at the consumption of Topo Chico in Mexico and the United States, exposing how representations of indigenous women on consumable products reify colonial ideas of indigenous women as consumable themselves.

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