Drawing on Kwame Appiah’s discussion of the relationship between rooting and cosmopolitanism, I show that this concern was shared by many in west Mexico, where I conducted fieldwork among diverse groups of townspeople, villagers, weekend visitors from Guadalajara, and migrants working in Guadalajara and in California. All of those groups talked about belonging or rooting to specific places – villages, towns, cities, countries and so on. They also used the term cultura in a way that resonated more with Appiah’s ‘cosmopolitanism’ than with his ‘cultural particularities’. Although most people aspired to gain cultura without losing rooting, I found that many people judged themselves or others to fail in one or both respects. Migrants in California, in particular, were felt to have lost rooting without having become cosmopolitan. I focus throughout on how west Mexicans, including the novelist Juan Rulfo, used their knowledge of history as a way of claiming both rooting and cultura.