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Volume 58 / Humanities


Independence, Revolution, and Post-Revolution

BARBARA A. TENENBAUM, Mexican Specialist, Library of Congress, Editor in Chief, Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture
DON M. COERVER, Professor of History, Texas Christian University
SUZANNE B. PASZTOR, Assistant Professor of History, University of the Pacific


SCHOLARLY WRITING ON MEXICAN HISTORY from 1810-1910 continues to rise to new heights and address new subjects. Since the mid-1980s, the field has become ever more sophisticated, moving sharply away from the hagiography characteristic of earlier times. Such improvements are not simply due to its increasing professionalization, as noted in {HLAS 56,} but to other factors at work in both Mexico and the US.

This biennium Mexican research reflects new concerns about democratic processes and institutions, as well as a new interest in immigrants, highlighting, for a change, their beneficial contributions to life in their adopted Mexican homeland. Particularly noteworthy among the works reviewed here is the charming book by Sano on Japanese sailors shipwrecked off the coast of Mazatlán (item #bi 00003249#). On the cultural side, Mexican historians are exploring an ever-widening assortment of source materials including traditional calendars, visitor's cards, newspaper advertisements, and Mexican versions of books that had originated abroad (items #bi 00005520#, #bi2001001423#, #bi 00001977#, #bi 97001100#, and #bi 00004450#). As historians continue to delve into such previously untapped resources, their interpretations will deepen our understanding of Mexico's past.

Researchers' interest in politics continues, but different themes have moved to the forefront. As predicted in HLAS 56, scholars are looking somewhat more objectively at the Porfiriato, particularly at the construction and maintenance of political control, a thread first articulated by Laurens Perry in his Juarez and Díaz: machine politics in Mexico (see HLAS 42:2229). Articles on Yucatan during the Caste War; voting in the state of Mexico; Porfirian political networks; and local political and spiritual leaders in Chihuahua, Puebla, and Veracruz, among others, study how localities reacted to events and demands from the center (for example, items #bi2001001216#, #bi 97011723#, #bi 00006164#, and #bi00006130#). If this worthy trend first noted in HLAS 54 continues, historians can look forward to a more comprehensive picture of the struggle between central control and provincial/local aspirations. In another important trend, historians are finally beginning to look at Mexican indigenous peoples as protagonists of their own history, rather than solely as victims in peril. A number of new studies examine the role of indigenous peoples in local and national politics during independence, the Caste War, the Reform, and the French Empire (for example, items #bi 99005909# and #bi2001001419#) and Especially interesting is the daring article by Velasco Avila on the indigenous in Nuevo México who took Mexican mestizos hostages, but left those from the US alone (item #bi 00006914#).

Economic historians are also hard at work. This biennium saw impressive essays on previously neglected financial, fiscal, and trade issues. These scholars are locked in struggle with the cultural historians, particularly in the US. Each group hotly contests the assumptions, evidence, and arguments of the other, as occurred during an especially rancorous Mexican Studies Committee meeting at the American Historical Association Convention in 1997. This controversy is not precisely new and is destined to continue as more aspects of Mexican history are carefully studied. In the meantime, scholars should consider the merits and weaknesses of the vast array of ideological interpretations, ranging from dependency to econometrics, found in recent historical studies on a variety of topics: railroads, public works, free-standing British companies, the Banco de México, copper, gold, and silver money; and a recalculation of national income (items #bi 00003250#, #bi2001001368#, #bi 98004950#, #bi2001001420#, and #bi 97012541#). The period also saw two excellent and likely-to-be-definitive essays by Knowlton on the ejido and by Wells on henequen (items #bi 99006128# and #bi 98008171# respectively). [BT]


Regional history continues to attract scholars who are increasingly focusing their research on the political dynamics of the post-revolution period. Heather Fowler Salamini explores the continuing interest in the revolutionary period (item #bi 93016976#), while Raymond Buve (item #bi 97017581#) examines the revolutionary process in Tlaxcala. Studies of the early revolutionary period focus on Guanajuato (item #bi 97001117#), Tlaxcala (item #bi 97017581#), and Veracruz (item #bi 97011405#). Contributing to an understanding of the 1930s and 1940s are studies of Michoacán (item #bi 97012181#) and item #bi 97012190#), Puebla (item #bi 97012249#), and Tamaulipas (item #bi 97012243#).

In the field of labor history, the relationship between miners' unions and the Revolution is explored in Gonzales (item #bi 96024840#), while Jonathan C. Brown provides an important analysis of Mexican oil workers and the expropriation of 1938 (item #bi 96025072#). Studies by Jeffrey Bortz (item #bi 95018628#), Dora Elvia Enríquez Licón (item #bi 97012202#), and Michael Snodgrass (item #bi 97012189#) highlight the relationship between labor movements and the state during the 1920s and 1930s. Ignacio Rabelo Ruiz de la Peña inventories documents on Tabasco's labor movement (item #bi 97012226#).

Research on Mexico's economic history persists as a popular theme. Elsa Margarita Gracida Romo provides a good overview of Mexico's industrial growth (item #bi 97017569#), while Jesús Méndez Reyes examines economic policy during the Madero years (item #bi 97012197#). Juan Barragán (item #bi 96000027#), María del Carmen Collado (item #bi 97012207#), and Felícitas López Portillo (items #bi 97012258# and #bi 97011568#) provide good studies of the relationship between Mexico's industrial-business class and the state in the post- revolutionary period.

Women's history continues to attract scholars. Ana Lau Jaiven provides a useful historiographical survey highlighting primary and secondary works relating to women's experiences in the Mexican Revolution (item #bi 97008084#). Martha Eva Rocha Islas uses documents from the Archivo de la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional to profile female participants in the Revolution (item #bi 97010413#), while Andrés Reséndez Fuentes discusses the differences between soldaderas and female soldiers (item #bi 95015088#). Explorations of Mexico's women's movement and of the political activities of contemporary Mexican women are the subject of works by Marta Lamas et al. (item #bi 95018647#) and Carmen Ramos Escandón (item #bi 95015239#). An interesting study of homosexuality by Rob Buffington is a hopeful sign that some scholars may be expanding their focus to the more general field of gender studies (item #bi 97012245#).

A notable interest in Church-state relations, particularly the Cristero Rebellion, characterized the last biennium. Celestino Barradas concludes his multi-volume study of the Church in Veracruz (item #bi 97001065#). María de la Luz Martínez Rojas examines relations between the Church and the Madero, Huerta, and Carranza administrations (item #bi 97013362#). Regional explorations of the Cristero movement focus on Aguascalientes (item #bi 96008020#) and Jalisco (items #bi 95013109#; #bi 96006179#; and #bi 95014104#) among others.

Mexican diplomatic history has likewise attracted considerable attention of late. Oscar Flores Torres (item #bi 97001125#), Carlos Illades (item #bi 97005429#) and Marina Zuloaga Rada (item #bi 97014131#) explore relations between Mexico and Spain and between Mexico and its Spanish residents during the Revolution. Diplomatic dealings between Mexico and the US during the 1920s is the topic of articles by Daniela Spenser Grollová (item #bi 96025061#) and Pedro Castro (item #bi 96025064#). Alan Knight analyzes the emergence of a Mexican-US alliance in the years before World War II (item #bi 96025082#), and Stephen Niblo examines how wartime cooperation with the US influenced Mexico's postwar development policy (item #bi 97001115#). Jurgen Buchenau provides an excellent general study of Mexico's relationship with Central America (item #bi 97012179#), while articles by José Antonio Serrano Ortega (item #bi 97014133#) and Thomas D. Schoonover (item #bi 96025027#) provide more specific studies of the same theme. Finally, Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Relations has produced an interesting photographic history of Mexican diplomacy in the decades after World War I (item #bi 97012168#).

Several notable works produced in the last biennium do not fit into the above categories. John W. Sherman (item #bi 97012254#) and Ricardo Pérez Montfort (item #bi 97012239#) provide important studies of the Mexican right. Mary K. Vaughan has produced an excellent study of educational politics in the post-revolutionary era (item #bi 97017562#). New analyses of Zapata and Zapatismo can be found in Samuel Brunk (item #bi 97001036#) and Francisco Piñeda Gómez (item #bi 97017580#). Arnaldo Córdova provides an important study of the Maximato (item #bi 97001118#), while Marjorie Becker revises the "myth of secular redemption" surrounding Cárdenas and his agrarian reform program (item #bi 97001044#). Finally, Robert Buffington breaks new ground with a study of the political significance of prison reform during the Revolution (item #bi 96024955#). [DC and SP]

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