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Volume 60 / Humanities


Independence, Revolution, and Post-Revolution

BARBARA A. TENENBAUM, Mexican Specialist, Hispanic Division, 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, Associate Professor of History, University of the Pacific


SCHOLARLY WRITING ON MEXICAN HISTORY from 1810–1910 continues to push forward on new topics while developing innovative approaches to both old and new concerns. Although the field is becoming ever more sophisticated, it has yet to adopt fully the ideological debates that so affect international scholarship today. The biennium saw two magnum opus from major scholars, Hart on the US in Mexico (item #bi2002003103#) and Van Young on the independence insurgency (item #bi2002005545#). Researchers are working on uncovering health and medical topics; among the scholars reviewed here are López Ramos on press coverage of medical articles (item #bi2003002701#), López Sánchez on women's health care (item #bi2003000713#), Urbán Martínez on pharmacies (item #bi2003004666#), Agostoni on doctors trying to defend "orthodox" medicine against curanderos (item #bi 00006942#), Piccato on Porfirian views of the causes of aberrant behavior (item #bi2002005815#), and Santoyo on the development and acceptance of a "Sanitary Code" for Mexico City (item #bi 98003641#).

The influence of cultural topics has spread ever-wider; especially noteworthy is the study by Lau Jaiven of Gen. Manuel Barrera, an empresario de espectáculos like hot-air balloons (item #bi 00006716#). Two different authors look at the newspapers of Mexico City at the beginning of the 20th century: Garrido (item #bi2003000507#) and Pérez-Rayón Elizundia (item #bi2003000176#). Two works examine different aspects of culture within the publishing industry: Torre Rendón on illustrated magazines (item #bi 00001973#) and Ortiz Gaitán on advertising (item #bi 00001974#). To date, Mexican historians have not yet gravitated to the more theoretical aspects of the cultural discussion, but HLAS 62 may indicate otherwise.

Politics, as ever, continues to fascinate, but approaches to it have become much more subtle and thought-provoking. Some researchers continued the trend noted in HLAS 58 by concentrating on the relationship between individual regions and the national government; for example, Buve tracing the Reform in Tlaxcala (item #bi 00006418#), Gutiérrez Grageda looking at elections in Quéretaro before and during the Porfiriato (item #bi 99002330#), Guzmán López investigating the rivalry between Lerdo de Tejada and Iglesias in 1876 Guanajuato (item #bi2003002702#), and Altable Fernández revealing how fragmented centralization really was in Baja California (item #bi 99003391#). Others focused on statecraft with Craib's essay leading the way on mapping in 1857 (item #bi2003005214#), Mayer Celis on statistics and government planning (item #bi2003000858#), and Maurer on how the Porfirian state concentrated banking institutions so efficiently that the revolutionaries could not (or would not) dislodge them (item #bi2003005220#).

Scholars published innovative studies on a wide array of topics. Contreras Delgado traced the development of a mining camp in Coahuila to its current function supplying housing to maquila workers (item #bi2003001319#), while both Arrom (item #bi2003005205#) and Blum (item #bi2002005822#) looked at the relationship between poverty and charity. The French intervention attracted some well-designed studies; eg., Meyer on the French soldiers who went to Mexico (item #bi2003005211#), with Duncan (item #bi 99001304#) and Pani (item #bi2003000254#) analyzing how Maximilian tried to Mexicanize his empire, Sausi Garavito on Mexico's finances during the 1750–1860 period (item #bi2003005217#), and Ullman's new translation of the memoirs of Maximilian's personal physician, Dr. Samuel Basch (item #bi2003000177#). Although scholars en masse did not latch onto the thread mentioned in HLAS 58 of looking at immigrants, Schell writes on the US trade diaspora helping Mexico achieve its "defensive modernization" (item #bi2003000251#), while Villaverde García relates Galician migration and contributions (item #bi2003005101#), and Salazar Anaya compiles a quasi-reference work on immigration to Mexico City (item #bi2003004557#). [BT]


An especially notable development in the field of Mexican history is the continuing emergence of cultural history as an identifiable subfield. Although the contours of the "new cultural history" began to appear nearly a decade ago, the task of revealing the cultural change that occurs amid more general or macrolevel historical developments is attracting more scholars. In 1999, a special edition of the Hispanic American Historical Review was devoted to "Mexico's New Cultural History." In it, articles by Vaughan (item #bi 99006377#), Haber (item #bi2003006656#), Mallon (item #bi2003006661#), Socolow (item #bi2003006676#), and Lomnitz (item #bi2003006659#) assess the usefulness of cultural history and demonstrate that this approach has generated both optimism and pessimism among historians.

Recent studies within the cultural history domain include three articles by Bliss examining the effect of post-Revolution reform efforts on notions of gender, sexuality, motherhood, and fatherhood (items #bi2001003785#, #bi 00002944#, and #bi 99004997#), and Piccato's study of the relationship between reformism and Mexico City's urban poor (item #bi2001003783#). The issues of culture and modernity inform Pilcher's book-length study of Cantinflas (item #bi2003006669#) and Macías González's examination of the murder trial of "Miss Mexico 1928" (item #bi 00006421#).

Although there was a decline in the production of histories focused specifically on women during the last biennium, three studies examine women's political involvement in Mexico during and after the Revolution: Vatsala Kapur's examination of women's role in the PAN and PRD (item #bi2003006657#), Agustín Vaca's exploration of the role of women in the Cristero Rebellion (item #bi2001002637#), and Benedikt Behrens' interesting investigation into the role played by women in a Veracruz rent control movement (item #bi 00006728#). Another notable study is Sara Sefchovich's examination of the wives of Mexican rulers, whose lives reveal changes for Mexican women in general (item #bi 00007316#).

The history of agrarian reform has attracted a handful of scholars. Ginzberg has produced two works on the agrarian program of Veracruz leader Adalberto Tejada (items #bi 00007249# and #bi 99001309#), and Brewster explores the efforts of a Puebla cacique to negotiate demands for land reform (item #bi 99008258#). Chassen de López details an agrarian struggle between indigenous peoples and mestizos in Oaxaca (item #bi 98012739#), Alejos García underscores the ethnic component of land struggles in Chiapas (item #bi2001002638#), and Castellanos provides a detailed study of the agrarian struggle in the state of Mexico (item #bi2001002634#). Finally, Henderson uses the story of Rosalie Evans in his well-researched account of agrarian reform in Puebla (item #bi 98013628#).

Several scholars produced works on Mexican diplomatic history during the last biennium, with US-Mexican relations continuing to attract the most attention. Mark Anderson explores American press images of Mexico during the Revolution (item #bi2003005667#), and Morris studies more current Mexican press portrayals of the US (item #bi2003006665#). Solórzano Ramos examines the Rockefeller Foundation's campaign against yellow fever in 1920s Mexico (item #bi 98011704#), Paz explores the impact of Word War II on security concerns of the two countries (item #bi2003006668#), and Griswold del Castillo probes the Mexican response to the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles (item #bi2003006655#). Mexican relations with Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the issue of Spanish exiles are the topics of works by Ferrer Rodríguez (item #bi 00007306#), Matesanz (item #bi2001002623#), MacGregor (item #bi2001001902#), and Katz (item #bi 00006553#).

There was continued interest in regional history, especially for the 1910–20 time period. García Ugarte describes the diversity of interests affecting the Revolution in Querétaro (item #bi 98011672#), while Mijangos Díaz examines political forces operating in Michoacán in the first decade of the Revolution (item #bi 98011680#). Martínez Guzmán and Chávez Ramírez provide a detailed account of revolutionary activities in Durango between 1914–20 (item #bi2001002640#), while Plascencia de la Parra analyzes the de la Huerta rebellion of 1923–24 on a regional basis (item #bi2001002631#). Lorey's examination of the border region emphasizes the boom-bust economic cycle and social developments in the area (item #bi 99009331#).

Several notable miscellaneous works appeared in this biennium. The highly anticipated study of Pancho Villa and villismo by Katz will be a reference point for future scholars of the Revolution (item #bi 00007309#). Benjamin provides an important examination of the development and the various representations of the "Revolutionary Tradition" (item #bi2003001930#). Henderson's study of the "Porfirian Progressive," León de la Barra, offers excellent insights into the difficulties of the transition from the Porfiriato to the Madero administration (item #bi 00007317#). Niblo examines the official switch by the government from traditional revolutionary themes to a "new vision of modernity" in the 1940s (item #bi 00007338#). [DC and SP]

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