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Volume 62 / 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, Humboldt State University


This biennium saw the publication of several volumes destined to be part of "required reading" lists for courses and given privileged places on office bookshelves. Once again, the field of history of independent Mexico shows itself as fully alive and well, and progressing substantially from even its successes just 10 years before. However, one disappointing trend continues despite North American conferences and increasing research and teaching visits from non-Mexican scholars. Quite a few works do not contain any English-language sources, even when very useful and pertinent ones exist. This exclusivity remained true even for studies written by scholars whose English is non pareil. It is to be hoped that further interchanges of all sorts will result in greater international exchange of information and interpretation.

Economic works rivaled political ones for their thought-provoking topics, creativity, and in-depth treatments. Particularly noteworthy was the trend of giving popular agency to situations previously perceived as solely oppressive by nature. Such innovative studies include two for Veracruz by Kourí on vanilla cultivation in Papantla (item #bi2006001266#), and Craib on the creation of geographic space and place in official cartographic reality (item #bi2004003565#). Oaxacan history lent itself to two groundbreaking contributions as well with Chassen de López on indigenous relations and gender (item #bi2006001343#) and Guardino on a careful study of the real nature of politics there following his excellent work on Guerrero (item #bi2006001342#). Other worthy economic analyses include Haber et al. on property rights (item #bi2006001345#), Costeloe's study of "British" bondholders (item #bi2006001347#), Cerutti's comparison between the Mexican city of Monterey and "Spanish" Bilbao (item #bi2004001217#), Buchenau on his family's business developing both the immigration and economic aspects (item #bi2006001254#), and an almost state-by-state history of agribusiness (item #bi2006001275#).

Cultural history is making many more inroads, but still has plenty of room for expansion. The sole work on gays examines an infamous gathering of 41 homosexuals and transvestites broken up by the police in 1901 (item #bi2005000376#). But there was Krauze's fine interpretation of the uses of the indigenous past by the nationalist present (item #bi2006001267#), Fowler's explanation of Santa Anna's enduring popularity in Xalapa (item #bi2003006789#), Díaz y de Ovando's brief look at cafés (item #bi2006001256#), and Zárate Toscano's discussion of Maximilian's attempts to build national statues (item #bi2005002262#).

A few new comparative studies have emerged and that in itself is innovative for the field. Some tackled how processes worked for different Mexican states such as Ducey on indigenous peoples in Hidalgo and Veracruz from república de indios to ayuntamientos (item #bi2001003882#), and Vázquez's edited collection of federalism in the states (item #bi2006002360#). The more usual comparisons between Mexico and the US appeared also in Pani on the patriot generation in both countries (item #bi2005002255#), but novelties surfaced when Forte looked at the Mexican Constitution of 1854 and the Argentine of 1852 (item #bi2005002790#), Fernández Christlieb placed Mexican architectural urban design within a European context (item #bi2006001258#), and O'Dogherty Madrazo focused on the comments of Europeans in Carlota's guardia (item #bi2005004795#).

Intellectual and social history also had their share of interesting works. Weiner made sizeable headway with his study of market discourses during the Porfiriato (item #bi2006001344#), and there were quite a few writings on the press, stemming in part from seminars both at the Instituto Mora and the UNAM, compiled by Suárez de la Torre and Castro (item #bi2006001348#). Even diplomatic history continued to thrive. The ever-popular machinations and mysteries of the story of the Tehuantepec canal appeared once more in Alvarez Macotela (item #bi2006002362#), while Palacios looked at the imperial courts of Brazil and Mexico (item #bi2003002168#). Of course, there were the inevitable works on the shared history with the US by Urbina Martínez on the Catarino Garza border revolt (item #bi2006002363#), and Taylor Hansen on the colonization of Baja California (item #bi2003002018#).

Finally, scholars mined sources for yet three more previously researched subjects—gender, education, and public health. In addition to Chassen de López, there were contributions by Garza Caligaris on servants in San Cristóbal de las Casas (item #bi2005004924#) and García Peña on single women (item #bi2005002796#), while a compiled volume of essays examined worker formation in Zacatecas (item #bi2006002366#), Bazant de Saldaña dissected indigenous education through school records (item #bi2006001346#), and Chaoul Pereyra analyzed reduced benefits for teachers in Mexico City (item #bi2003002019#). At last, Eduardo Licéaga, one of, if not the founder of public health in Mexico, was profiled by Carrillo (item #bi2004000364#) and Oliver Sánchez told us about the cholera epidemic of 1885 in Guadalajara (item #bi2006001270#). [BT]


The number of scholars focusing on cultural history has continued to grow since the last biennium, and a wide variety of topics are being explored within this subfield. Ochoa's examination of begging in 1930s Mexico City (item #bi2002005823#) is typical of the genre, as is Wood's study of the Carnival celebration in Vera Cruz (item #bi2004001488#) and Carreño King's exploration of the charro stereotype (item #bi2001006782#). Most notable is the number of studies dealing with health and hygiene. Bliss explores the connection between revolutionary reform and prostitution in Mexico City (item #bi2002005731#), while Rivera-Garza probes the relationship between female inmates and male doctors in Mexico City's General Insane Asylum (item #bi2002005820#). Rivera-Garza (item #bi2002005839#) and Sacristán (item #bi2002005840#) also explore the more general development of the Insane Asylum and of the psychiatric profession in Mexico. Also notable is the analysis by Kapelusz-Poppi of the debate over socialized medicine and professional standards in postrevolutionary Mexico (item #bi2002005821#).

Increasingly, the study of women in Mexico is being subsumed into the "new cultural history," which often emphasizes gender analysis. Fallow's examination of politics and gender in the Yucatán is a good example of this work (item #bi2005002540#), as is Frazier and Cohen's comparison of male and female accounts of Mexico's student movement during the 1960s (item #bi2005001444#). Recent works that more clearly belong to the genre of "women's history" are Poniatowska's brief treatment of soldaderas (item #bi2001006749#) and a collection of profiles on Mexican women during the 20th century assembled by Francisco Blanco Figueroa (item #bi2002005736#).

The history of immigrant groups in Mexico is attracting a handful of scholars. Faber explores the experiences of Spanish exiles (item #bi2003001929#), while Anhalt provides an interesting account of left-wing expatriates from the US (item #bi2002005729#). Backal uses the histories of first-generation Mexican Jews to analyze Mexican anti-Semitism (item #bi2003001928#) and Hansen details the attempt of a small group of Boer immigrants to settle in northern Mexico on the eve of the Revolution (item #bi2005002297#). More general works are Yankelevich's study of foreigners who were extradited during the revolutionary era (item #bi2005002797#) and Palma Mora's examination of immigrant groups that arrived from Latin America and the US in the latter part of the 20th century (item #bi2002004986#).

Regional history continued to attract the attention of scholars, especially the early decades of the Revolution. In a major work, Carlos Martínez Assad discussed the theory of regional history and its application to revolutionary and postrevolutionary Mexico (item #bi2002005756#). State-level studies of the Revolution included Nayarit (Contreras Valdez, item #bi2002005727#) and Veracruz (Koth, item #bi2003001927#). The state of Chiapas was the focus for several scholars, many of whom sought to gauge the impact of the Zapatista rebellion on the region and its people. The impact of the rebellion on local politics and civil society is the topic of works by Gilbreth and Otero (item #bi2005002536#) and Stephen (see HLAS 61:582). More specific studies that include a consideration of the rebellion are Eber's examination of the Indians of San Pedro Chenalhó (item #bi2005002542#), Hernández Castillo's analysis of peasants along the Guatemalan border (item #bi2005002296#), and Leyva Solano's work on Las Cañadas, a region of the Lacandona Forest (item #bi2006001151#). Also notable is the more general work of Vos on the Lacandona Forest during the latter part of the 20th century (item #bi2003001926#).

Economic themes emerged as a major concern, especially the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s and their impact on Mexican society. Flores Quiroga examines the recurrent economic crises of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, concluding that neither the old statist approach of the 1970s nor the new neoliberal approach of the 1980s could solve Mexico's economic problems (item #bi2005002545#). A number of authors took a dim view of the impact that the neoliberal development model was having on Mexico: Basave Kunhardt (item #bi2005002265#), Cooney (item #bi2005002535#), Cypher (item #bi2005002538#), Kelly (item #bi2005002295#), González de la Rocha (item #bi2005002299#), and Roman and Velasco Arregui (item #bi2006001161#). Glade discusses how improvements in Mexican academic institutions and a large number of foreign-trained economists who returned to Mexico influenced economic policy after 1982 (item #bi2005002269#). [DC and SP]

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