Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 333–346 | Cite as

Ouija boards, shape shifters, and dropouts moral panics and neoliberal Precarity in rural Yucatan

  • Fernando Armstrong-FumeroEmail author


In 2010, a group of teenagers in the rural Yucatecan town of Dzitas were reportedly possessed by the devil while playing with a Ouija board in a local cemetery. This fed into a moral panic regarding the corrupting moral influence of transnational media and consumerism on local young people whose livelihood prospects look increasingly precarious. This bore a superficial resemblance to the 1980s “Satanic Panic” of the United States, which also embodied parental fears of cultural change and neoliberal precarity. However, the Yucatecan case bears the particular mark of a culture in which belief in divination and sorcery is more wide-spread than in the United States on the 1980s, and where neoliberal precarity did not emerge amidst the decay of an older Fordist stability. A comparison of the cultural dimensions of these two moral panics highlights important differences in the experience of neoliberalism at different points in the global system.


Precarity Neoliberalism Yucatan, Mexico Witchcraft and sorcery Youth culture Global media 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology Smith CollegeNorthamptonUSA

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