When Indian communities of Chiapas, Mexico, rose in armed rebellion in 1994, they spoke boldly of values, rights, identities, and expectations. Their language struck a chord for most Mexicans, for it was the cultural legacy of the Revolution of 1910. Of all the accomplishments of the Mexican Revolution, its cultural achievements were among its most important. The Revolution's cultural politics accounts in part for the relative political stability Mexico enjoyed from 1940 through 1993 and underlies much of the discourse accompanying the tumultuous transitions in that country today. To show the significance of this facet of the Revolution, Mary Kay Vaughan here analyzes the educational effort of the state during the 1930s, locating it within the broader sweep of Mexican history to illustrate how the government sought to nationalize and modernize rural society. Vaughan focuses on activities in rural schools, where central state policy makers, teachers, and people of the countryside came together to forge a national culture. She examines the cultural politics of schooling in four rural societies in the states of Sonora and Puebla that are representative of the peasant societies in revolutionary Mexico, and she shows how the state's program of socialist education became an arena for intense negotiations over power, culture, knowledge, rights, and gender practices. The real cultural revolution, Vaughan observes, lay not in the state's efforts at socialist education but in the dialogue between state and society that took place around this program. In the 1930s, rural communities carved out a space to preserve their local identities while the state succeeded in nurturing a multi-ethnic nationalism based on its promise of social justice and development. Vaughan brings to her analysis a comparative understanding of peasant politics and educational history, extensive interviews, and a detailed examination of national, regional, and local archives to create an evocative and informative study of Mexican politics and society during modern Mexico's formative years. Cultural Politics in Revolution clearly shows that only by expanding the social arena in which culture was constructed and contested can we understand the Mexican Revolution's real achievements.
When the fighting of the Mexican Revolution died down in 1920, the national government faced the daunting task of building a cohesive nation. It had to establish control over a disparate and needy population and prepare the country for global economic competition. As part of this effort, the government enlisted the energy of artists and intellectuals in cultivating a distinctly Mexican identity. It devised a project for the incorporation of indigenous peoples and oversaw a vast, innovative program in the arts. The Eagle and the Virgin examines the massive nation-building project Mexico undertook between 1920 and 1940.
Contributors explore the nation-building efforts of the government, artists, entrepreneurs, and social movements; their contradictory, often conflicting intersection; and their inevitably transnational nature. Scholars of political and social history, communications, and art history describe the creation of national symbols, myths, histories, and heroes to inspire patriotism and transform workers and peasants into efficient, productive, gendered subjects. They analyze the aesthetics of nation building made visible in murals, music, and architecture; investigate state projects to promote health, anticlericalism, and education; and consider the role of mass communications, such as cinema and radio, and the impact of road building. They discuss how national identity was forged among social groups, specifically political Catholics, industrial workers, middle-class women, and indigenous communities. Most important, the volume weighs in on debates about the tension between the eagle (the modernizing secular state) and the Virgin of Guadalupe (the Catholic defense of faith and morality). It argues that despite bitter, violent conflict, the symbolic repertoire created to promote national identity and memory making eventually proved capacious enough to allow the eagle and the virgin to coexist peacefully.
Contributors. Adrian Bantjes, Katherine Bliss, María Teresa Fernández, Joy Elizabeth Hayes, Joanne Hershfield, Stephen E. Lewis, Claudio Lomnitz, Rick A. López, Sarah M. Lowe, Jean Meyer, James Oles, Patrice Olsen, Desmond Rochfort, Michael Snodgrass, Mary Kay Vaughan, Marco Velázquez, Wendy Waters, Adriana Zavala
Laura Méndez de Cuenca—poet, teacher, editor, writer, and feminist—dared to bypass the cultural traditions of her time.
In the early 1870s, when conservative religious thought permeated all aspects of Mexican life, she was one of very few women to gain admission to an extraordinary constellation of male poets, playwrights, and novelists, who were also the publicists and statesmen of the time. She entered this world through her poetry, intellect, curiosity, assertiveness, but her personal life was fraught with tragedy: she had a child out of wedlock by poet Manuel Acuña, who killed himself shortly thereafter. She later married another poet, Agustín Fidencio Cuenca, and had seven other children. All but two of her children died, as did Agustín.
As a penniless young widow facing social rejection, Laura became a teacher and an important force in Mexico’s burgeoning educational reform program. She moved abroad—first to San Francisco, then St. Louis, then Berlin. In these places where she was not known and women had begun to move confidently in the public sphere, she could walk freely, observe, mingle, make friends across many circles, learn, think, and express her opinions. She wrote primarily for a Mexican public and always returned to Mexico because it was her country’s future that she strove to create.
Now, for the first time in English, Mílada Bazant shares with us the trajectory of a leading Mexican thinker who applied the power of the pen to human feeling, suffering, striving, and achievement.
In Portrait of a Young Painter, the distinguished historian Mary Kay Vaughan adopts a biographical approach to understanding the culture surrounding the Mexico City youth rebellion of the 1960s. Her chronicle of the life of painter Pepe Zúñiga counters a literature that portrays post-1940 Mexican history as a series of uprisings against state repression, injustice, and social neglect that culminated in the student protests of 1968. Rendering Zúñiga's coming of age on the margins of formal politics, Vaughan depicts midcentury Mexico City as a culture of growing prosperity, state largesse, and a vibrant, transnationally-informed public life that produced a multifaceted youth movement brimming with creativity and criticism of convention. In an analysis encompassing the mass media, schools, politics, family, sexuality, neighborhoods, and friendships, she subtly invokes theories of discourse, phenomenology, and affect to examine the formation of Zúñiga's persona in the decades leading up to 1968. By discussing the influences that shaped his worldview, she historicizes the process of subject formation and shows how doing so offers new perspectives on the events of 1968.
Sex in Revolution challenges the prevailing narratives of the Mexican Revolution and postrevolutionary state formation by placing women at center stage. Bringing to bear decades of feminist scholarship and cultural approaches to Mexican history, the essays in this book demonstrate how women seized opportunities created by modernization efforts and revolutionary upheaval to challenge conventions of sexuality, work, family life, religious practices, and civil rights.
Concentrating on episodes and phenomena that occurred between 1915 and 1950, the contributors deftly render experiences ranging from those of a transgendered Zapatista soldier to upright damas católicas and Mexico City’s chicas modernas pilloried by the press and male students. Women refashioned their lives by seeking relief from bad marriages through divorce courts and preparing for new employment opportunities through vocational education. Activists ranging from Catholics to Communists mobilized for political and social rights. Although forced to compromise in the face of fierce opposition, these women made an indelible imprint on postrevolutionary society.
These essays illuminate emerging practices of femininity and masculinity, stressing the formation of subjectivity through civil-society mobilizations, spectatorship and entertainment, and locales such as workplaces, schools, churches, and homes. The volume’s epilogue examines how second-wave feminism catalyzed this revolutionary legacy, sparking widespread, more radically egalitarian rural women’s organizing in the wake of late-twentieth-century democratization campaigns. The conclusion considers the Mexican experience alongside those of other postrevolutionary societies, offering a critical comparative perspective.
Contributors. Ann S. Blum, Kristina A. Boylan, Gabriela Cano, María Teresa Fernández Aceves, Heather Fowler-Salamini, Susan Gauss, Temma Kaplan, Carlos Monsiváis, Jocelyn Olcott, Anne Rubenstein, Patience Schell, Stephanie Smith, Lynn Stephen, Julia Tuñón, Mary Kay Vaughan
Too often in the history of Mexico, women have been portrayed as marginal figures rather than legitimate participants in social processes. As the twentieth century draws to a close, Mexican women of the countryside can be seen as true historical actors: mothers and heads of households, factory and field workers, community activists, artisans, and merchants. In this new book, thirteen contributions by historians, anthropologists, and sociologists—from Mexico as well as the United States—elucidate the roles of women and changing gender relations in Mexico as rural families negotiated the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society.
Drawing on Mexican community studies, gender studies, and rural studies, these essays overturn the stereotypes of Mexican peasant women by exploring the complexity of their lives and roles and examining how these have changed over time. The book emphasizes the active roles of women in the periods of civil war, 1854-76, and the commercialization of agriculture, 1880-1910. It highlights their vigorous responses to the violence of revolution, their increased mobility, and their interaction with state reforms in the period from 1910 to 1940. The final essays focus on changing gender relations in the countryside under the impact of rapid urbanization and industrialization since 1940. Because histories of Latin American women have heretofore neglected rural areas, this volume will serve as a touchstone for all who would better understand women's lives in a region of increasing international economic importance. Women of the Mexican Countryside demonstrates that, contrary to the peasant stereotype, these women have accepted complex roles to meet constantly changing situations.
I—Women and Agriculture in Nineteenth-Century Mexico
1. Exploring the Origins of Democratic Patriarchy in Mexico: Gender and Popular Resistance in the Puebla Highlands, 1850-1876, Florencia Mallon
2. "Cheaper Than Machines": Women and Agriculture in Porfirian Oaxaca (1880-1911), Francie R. Chassen-López
3. Gender, Work, and Coffee in C¢rdoba, Veracruz, 1850-1910, Heather Fowler-Salamini
4. Gender, Bridewealth, and Marriage: Social Reproduction of Peons on Henequen Haciendas in Yucatán (1870-1901), Piedad Peniche Rivero
II—Rural Women and Revolution in Mexico
5. The Soldadera in the Mexican Revolution: War and Men's Illusions, Elizabeth Salas
6. Rural Women's Literacy and Education During the Mexican Revolution: Subverting a Patriarchal Event?, Mary Kay Vaughan
7. Doña Zeferina Barreto: Biographical Sketch of an Indian Woman from the State of Morelos, Judith Friedlander
8. Seasons, Seeds, and Souls: Mexican Women Gardening in the American Mesilla (1900-1940), Raquel Rubio Goldsmith
III—Rural Women, Urbanization, and Gender Relations
9. Three Microhistories of Women's Work in Rural Mexico, Patricia Arias
10. Intergenerational and Gender Relations in the Transition from a Peasant Economy to a Diversified Economy, Soledad González Montes
11. From Metate to Despate: Rural Women's Salaried Labor and the Redefinition of Gendered Spaces and Roles, Gail Mummert
12. Changes in Rural Society and Domestic Labor in Atlixco, Puebla (1940-1990), Maria da Glória Marroni de Velázquez
13. Antagonisms of Gender and Class in Morelos, Mexico, JoAnn Martin