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Other titles in the Mexican Experience series:
Gender and the Negotiation of Daily Life in Mexico, 1750-1856 (Mexican Experience)by Sonya Lipsett-rivera
Synopses & Reviews
In late nineteenth-century Mexico the Mexican populace was fascinated with the countryand#8217;s booming railroad network. Newspapers and periodicals were filled with art, poetry, literature, and social commentaries exploring the symbolic power of the railroad. As a symbol of economic, political, and industrial modernization, the locomotive served to demarcate a nationand#8217;s status in the world. However, the dangers of locomotive travel, complicated by the fact that Mexicoand#8217;s railroads were foreign owned and operated, meant that the railroad could also symbolize disorder, death, and foreign domination.
In The Civilizing Machine Michael Matthews explores the ideological and cultural milieu that shaped the Mexican peopleand#8217;s understanding of technology. Intrinsically tied to the Porfiriato, the thirty-five-year dictatorship of Gen. Porfirio Dand#237;az, the booming railroad network represented material progress in a country seeking its place in the modern world. Matthews discloses how the railroadand#8217;s development represented the crowning achievement of the regime and the material incarnation of its mantra, and#8220;order and progress.and#8221; The Porfirian administration evoked the railroad in legitimizing and justifying its own reign, while political opponents employed the same rhetorical themes embodied by the railroads to challenge the manner in which that regime achieved economic development and modernization. As Matthews illustrates, the multiple symbols of the locomotive reflected deepening social divisions and foreshadowed the conflicts that eventually brought about the Mexican Revolution.
Drawing on an analysis of issues surrounding the consumption of alcohol in a diverse range of source materials, including novels, newspapers, medical texts, and archival records, this lively and engaging interdisciplinary study explores sociocultural nation-building processes in Mexico between 1810 and 1910. Examining the historical importance of drinking as both an important feature of Mexican social life and a persistent source of concern for Mexican intellectuals and politicians, Deborah Toners Alcohol and Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Mexico offers surprising insights into how the nation was constructed and deconstructed in the nineteenth century.
Although Mexican intellectuals did indeed condemn the physically and morally debilitating aspects of excessive alcohol consumption and worried that particularly Mexican drinks and drinking places were preventing Mexicos progress as a nation, they also identified more culturally valuable aspects of Mexican drinking cultures that ought to be celebrated as part of an “authentic” Mexican national culture. The intertwined literary and historical analysis in this study illustrates how wide-ranging the connections were between ideas about drinking, poverty, crime, insanity, citizenship, patriotism, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity in the nineteenth century, and the book makes timely and important contributions to the fields of Latin American literature, alcohol studies, and the social and cultural history of nation-building.
In the hands of the state, music is a political tool. The Banda de Mand#250;sica del Estado de Oaxaca (State Band of Oaxaca, BME), a civil organization nearly as old as the modern state of Oaxaca itself, offers unique insights into the history of a modern political state.
In The Inevitable Bandstand, Charles V. Heath examines the BMEand#8217;s role as a part of popular political culture that the state of Oaxaca has deployed in an attempt to bring unity and order to its domain. The BME has always served multiple functions: it arose from musical groups that accompanied military forces as they trained and fought; today it performs at village patron saint days and at Mexicoand#8217;s patriotic celebrations, propagating religions both sacred and civic; it offers education in the ways of liberal democracy to its population, once largely illiterate; and finally, it provides respite from the burdens of life by performing at strictly diversionary functions such as serenades and Sunday matinees.
In each of these government-sanctioned roles, the BME serves to unify, educate, and entertain the diverse and fragmented elements within the state of Oaxaca, thereby mirroring the historical trajectory of the state of Oaxaca and the nation of Mexico from the pre-Hispanic and Spanish colonial eras to the nascent Mexican republic, from a militarized and fractured young nation to a consolidated postrevolutionary socialist state, and from a predominantly Catholic entity to an ostensibly secular one.
About the Author
Sonya Lipsett-Rivera is a professor of history at Carleton University. She is the author of To Defend Our Water with the Blood of Our Veins: The Struggle for Resources in Colonial Puebla and coeditor of The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America.
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