Revolution in Mexico sought to subordinate church to state and push the church out of public life. Nevertheless, state and church shared a concern for the nation's social problems. Until the breakdown of church-state cooperation in 1926, they ignored the political chasm separating them to address those problems through education in order to instill in citizens a new sense of patriotism, a strong work ethic, and adherence to traditional gender roles. This book examines primary, vocational, private, and parochial education in Mexico City from 1917 to 1926 and shows how it was affected by the relations between the revolutionary state and the Roman Catholic Church. One of the first books to look at revolutionary programs in the capital immediately after the Revolution, it shows how government social reform and Catholic social action overlapped and identifies clear points of convergence while also offering vivid descriptions of everyday life in revolutionary Mexico City. Comparing curricula and practice in Catholic and public schools, Patience Schell describes scandals and successes in classrooms throughout Mexico City. Her re-creation of day-to-day schooling shows how teachers, inspectors, volunteers, and priests, even while facing material shortages, struggled to educate Mexico City's residents out of a conviction that they were transforming society. She also reviews broader federal and Catholic social action programs such as films, unionization projects, and libraries that sought to instill a new morality in the working class. Finally, she situates education among larger issues that eventually divided church and state and examines the impact of the restrictions placed on Catholic education in 1926. Schell sheds new light on the common cause between revolutionary state education and Catholic tradition and provides new insight into the wider issue of the relationship between the revolutionary state and civil society. As the presidency of Vicente Fox revives questions of church involvement in Mexican public life, her study provides a solid foundation for understanding the tenor and tenure of that age-old relationship.
The City of Palaces: A Novel
Michael Nava University of Wisconsin Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3564.A8746C58 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In the years before the Mexican Revolution, Mexico is ruled by a tiny elite that apes European culture, grows rich from foreign investment, and prizes racial purity. The vast majority of Mexicans, who are native or of mixed native and Spanish blood, are politically powerless and slowly starving to death. Presiding over this corrupt system is Don Porfirio Díaz, the ruthless and inscrutable president of the Republic.
Against this backdrop, The City of Palaces opens in a Mexico City jail with the meeting of Miguel Sarmiento and Alicia Gavilán. Miguel is a principled young doctor, only recently returned from Europe but wracked by guilt for a crime he committed as a medical student ten years earlier. Alicia is the spinster daughter of an aristocratic family. Disfigured by smallpox, she has devoted herself to working with the city’s destitute. This unlikely pair—he a scientist and atheist and she a committed Christian—will marry. Through their eyes and the eyes of their young son, José, readers follow the collapse of the old order and its bloody aftermath. The City of Palaces is a sweeping novel of interwoven lives: Miguel and Alicia; José, a boy as beautiful and lonely as a child in a fairy tale; the idealistic Francisco Madero, who overthrows Díaz but is nevertheless destroyed by the tyrant’s political system; and Miguel’s cousin Luis, shunned as a “sodomite.” A glittering mosaic of the colonial past and the wealth of the modern age, The City of Palaces is a story of faith and reason, cathedrals and hovels, barefoot street vendors and frock-coated businessmen, grand opera and silent film, presidents and peasants, the living and the dead.
Winner, International Latino Book Award for Latino Fiction, Latino Literacy Now
Second place, International Latino Book Award for Historical Fiction, Latino Literacy Now
Finalist, Gay Fiction, Lambda Literary Awards
Honorable Mention in Drama, Latino Books into Movies Award, International Latino Book Awards
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Outstanding Book, selected by the Public Library Reviewers
In A City on a Lake Matthew Vitz tracks the environmental and political history of Mexico City and explains its transformation from a forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity plagued by environmental problems and social inequality. Vitz shows how Mexico City's unequal urbanization and environmental decline stemmed from numerous scientific and social disputes over water policy, housing, forestry, and sanitary engineering. From the prerevolutionary efforts to create a hygienic city supportive of capitalist growth, through revolutionary demands for a more democratic distribution of resources, to the mid-twentieth-century emergence of a technocratic bureaucracy that served the interests of urban elites, Mexico City's environmental history helps us better understand how urban power has been exercised, reproduced, and challenged throughout Latin America.
By the mid-nineteenth century, efforts to modernize and industrialize Mexico City had the unintended consequence of exponentially increasing the risk of fire while also breeding a culture of fear. Through an array of archival sources, Anna Rose Alexander argues that fire became a catalyst for social change, as residents mobilized to confront the problem. Advances in engineering and medicine soon fostered the rise of distinct fields of fire-related expertise while conversely, the rise of fire-profiteering industries allowed entrepreneurs to capitalize on crisis.
City on Fire demonstrates that both public and private engagements with fire risk highlight the inequalities that characterized Mexican society at the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1774 Mexico City leaders created the Mexico City Poor House—the centerpiece of a bold experiment intended to eliminate poverty and impose a new work ethic on former beggars by establishing a forcible internment policy for some and putting others to work. In Containing the Poor Silvia Marina Arrom tells the saga of this ill-fated plan, showing how the asylum functioned primarily to educate white orphans instead of suppressing mendicancy and exerting control over the multiracial community for whom it was designed. For a nation that had traditionally regarded the needy as having the undisputed right to receive alms and whose affluent citizens felt duty-bound to dispense them, the experiment was doomed from the start, explains Arrom. She uses deep archival research to reveal that—much to policymakers’ dismay—the Poor House became an orphanage largely because the government had underestimated the embeddedness of this moral economy of begging. While tracing the course of an eventful century that also saw colonialism give way to republicanism in Mexico, Arrom links the Poor House’s transformation with other societal factors as well, such as Mexican women’s increasing impact on social welfare policies. With poverty, begging, and homelessness still rampant in much of Latin America today, this study of changing approaches to social welfare will be particularly valuable to student and scholars of Mexican and Latin American society and history, as well as those engaged in the study of social and welfare policy.
In this innovative exploration of the interaction between economic processes and social relations, Lourdes Benería and Martha Roldán examine the effect of homework on gender and family dynamics. Their fieldwork in Mexico City during 1981-82 has enabled them to provide important new empirical data on industrial piecework performed by women as well as intimate glimpses of these women's lives which place that piecework in context. Tracing the stages of production from home to jobber, workshop, and manufacturer (often a multinational corporation), the authors demonstrate the way in which the work and lives of these women are connected through subcontracting to the national and often international system of production.
In this dazzling multidisciplinary tour of Mexico City, Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo focuses on the period 1880 to 1940, the decisive decades that shaped the city into what it is today.
Through a kaleidoscope of expository forms, I Speak of the City connects the realms of literature, architecture, music, popular language, art, and public health to investigate the city in a variety of contexts: as a living history textbook, as an expression of the state, as a modernist capital, as a laboratory, and as language. Tenorio’s formal imagination allows the reader to revel in the free-flowing richness of his narratives, opening startling new vistas onto the urban experience.
From art to city planning, from epidemiology to poetry, this book challenges the conventional wisdom about both Mexico City and the turn-of-the-century world to which it belonged. And by engaging directly with the rise of modernism and the cultural experiences of such personalities as Hart Crane, Mina Loy, and Diego Rivera, I Speak of the City will find an enthusiastic audience across the disciplines.
In this distinguished contribution to Latin American colonial history, Douglas Cope draws upon a wide variety of sources—including Inquisition and court cases, notarial records and parish registers—to challenge the traditional view of castas (members of the caste system created by Spanish overlords) as rootless, alienated, and dominated by a desire to improve their racial status. On the contrary, the castas, Cope shows, were neither passive nor ruled by feelings of racial inferiority; indeed, they often modified or even rejected elite racial ideology. Castas also sought ways to manipulate their social "superiors" through astute use of the legal system. Cope shows that social control by the Spaniards rested less on institutions than on patron-client networks linking individual patricians and plebeians, which enabled the elite class to co-opt the more successful castas.
The book concludes with the most thorough account yet published of the Mexico City riot of 1692. This account illuminates both the shortcomings and strengths of the patron-client system. Spurred by a corn shortage and subsequent famine, a plebeian mob laid waste much of the central city. Cope demonstrates that the political situation was not substantially altered, however; the patronage system continued to control employment and plebeians were largely left to bargain and adapt, as before.
A revealing look at the economic lives of the urban poor in the colonial era, The Limits of Racial Domination examines a period in which critical social changes were occurring. The book should interest historians and ethnohistorians alike.
The Mexico City Reader
Edited by Ruben Gallo University of Wisconsin Press, 2004 Library of Congress F1386.M654 2004 | Dewey Decimal 917.2530482
Mexico City is one of Latin America’s cultural capitals, and one of the most vibrant urban spaces in the world. The Mexico City Reader is an anthology of "Cronicas"—short, hybrid texts that are part literary essay, part urban reportage—about life in the capital. This is not the "City of Palaces" of yesteryear, but the vibrant, chaotic, anarchic urban space of the1980s and 1990s—the city of garbage mafias, necrophiliac artists, and kitschy millionaires.
Like the visitor wandering through the city streets, the reader will be constantly surprised by the visions encountered in this mosaic of writings—a textual space brimming with life and crowded with flâneurs, flirtatious students, Indian dancers,
food vendors, fortune tellers, political activists, and peasant protesters.
The essays included in this anthology were written by a panoply of writers, from well-known authors like Carlos Monsiváis and Jorge Ibagüengoitia to younger figures like Fabrizio Mejía Madrid and Juieta García González, all of whom are experienced practitioners of the city. The texts collected in this anthology are among the most striking examples of this concomitant "theory and practice" of Mexico City, that most delirious of megalopolises.
Mexico City became one of the centers of architectural modernism in the Americas in the first half of the twentieth century. Invigorated by insights drawn from the first published histories of Mexican colonial architecture, which suggested that Mexico possessed a distinctive architecture and culture, beginning in the 1920s a new generation of architects created profoundly visual modern buildings intended to convey Mexico’s unique cultural character. By midcentury these architects and their students had rewritten the country’s architectural history and transformed the capital into a metropolis where new buildings that evoked pre-conquest, colonial, and International Style architecture coexisted.
Through an exploration of schools, a university campus, a government ministry, a workers’ park, and houses for Diego Rivera and Luis Barragán, Kathryn O’Rourke offers a new interpretation of modern architecture in the Mexican capital, showing close links between design, evolving understandings of national architectural history, folk art, and social reform. This book demonstrates why creating a distinctively Mexican architecture captivated architects whose work was formally dissimilar, and how that concern became central to the profession.
September 19, 1985: A powerful earthquake hits Mexico City in the early morning hours. As the city collapses, the government fails to respond. Long a voice of social conscience, prominent Mexican journalist Elena Poniatowska chronicles the disintegration of the city's physical and social structure, the widespread grassroots organizing against government corruption and incompetence, and the reliency of the human spirit. As a transformative moment in the life of mexican society, the earthquake is as much a component of the country's current crisis as the 1982 debt crisis, the problematic economic of the last ten years, and the recent elections.
In masterfully weaving together a multiplicity of voices, Poniatowska has reasserted the inherent value and latent power of people working together. Punctuated by Poniatowska's own experiences and observations, these post disaster testimonies speak of the disruption of families and neighborhoods, of the destruction of homes and hospitals, of mutilation and death—the collective loss of a city. Drawing the reader dramatically into the scene of national horror through dozens of personal stories, Poniatowska demonstrates the importance of courage and self-reliance in redeeming life from chaos.
For more than five centuries, the Plaza Mayor (or Zócalo) in Mexico City has been the site of performances for a public spectatorship. During the period of colonial rule, performances designed to ensure loyalty to the Spanish monarchy were staged there, but over time, these displays gave way to staged demonstrations of resistance. Today, the Zócalo is a site for both official government-sponsored celebrations and performances that challenge the state. Performance in the Zócalo examines the ways that this city square has achieved symbolic significance over the centuries, and how national, ethnic, and racial identity has been performed there.
A saying in Mexico City is “quien domina el centro, domina el país” (whoever dominates the center, dominates the country) as the Zócalo continues to act as the performative embodiment of Mexican society. This book highlights how particular performances build upon each other by recycling past architectures and performative practices for new purposes. Ana Martínez discusses the singular role of collective memory in creating meaning through space and landmarks, providing a new perspective and further insight into the problem of Mexico’s relationship with its own past. Rather than merely describe the commemorations, she traces the relationship between space and the invention of a Mexican imaginary. She also explores how indigenous communities, Mexico’s alienated subalterns, performed as exploited objects, exotic characters, and subjects with agency. The book’s dual purposes are to examine the Zócalo as Mexico’s central site of performance and to unmask, without homogenizing, the official discourse regarding Mexico’s natives. This book will be of interest for students and scholars in theater studies, Mexican Studies, Cultural Geography, Latinx and Latin American Studies.
After a stirring e-mail exchange with his father, awardwinning essayist and cultural commentator Ilan Stavans decided to do something bizarre: revisit his hometown, Mexico City, accompanied by a tourist guide. But rather than seeking his roots in the neighborhood where he grew up, he headed to the Centro Histórico, the downtown area at the heart of the world’s largest metropolis. It was there that conversos, the hidden Jews escaping the might of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, were burned at the stake. And, centuries later, it was the same section where Jewish immigrants, both Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim and Sephardim from the Ottoman Empire, made their homes as peddlers. In a sense, Centro Histórico is to Mexico what the Lower East Side is to the United States: a platform for reinventing one’s self in the New World.
With the same linguistic verve and insight that has made him one of the most distinguished voices in American literature today, Ilan Stavans invites readers along for a personal journey that is not only his own, but that of an entire culture. In Return to Centro Histórico he makes it possible to understand the intimate role that Jews have played in the development of Hispanic civilization.
Why, Diane Davis asks, has Mexico City, once known as the city of palaces, turned into a sea of people, poverty, and pollution? Through historical analysis of Mexico City, Davis identifies political actors responsible for the uncontrolled industrialization of Mexico's economic and social center, its capital city. This narrative biography takes a perspective rarely found in studies of third-world urban development: Davis demonstrates how and why local politics can run counter to rational politics, yet become enmeshed, spawning ineffective policies that are detrimental to the city and the nation.
The competing social and economic demand of the working poor and middle classes and the desires of Mexico's ruling Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) have led to gravely diminished services, exorbitant infrastructural expenditures, and counter-productive use of geographic space. Though Mexico City's urban transport system has evolved over the past seven decades from trolley to bus to METRO (subway), it fails to meet the needs of the population, despite its costliness, and is indicative of the city's disastrous and ill-directed overdevelopment. Examining the political forces behind the thwarted attempts to provide transportation in the downtown and sprawling outer residential areas, Davis analyzes the maneuverings of local and national politicians, foreign investors, middle classes, agency bureaucrats, and various factions of the PRI.
Looking to Mexico's future, Davis concludes that growing popular dissatisfaction and frequent urban protests demanding both democratic reform and administrative autonomy in the capital city suggest an unstable future for corporatist politics and the PRI's centralized one-party government.
The years from the Porfiriato to the post-Revolutionary regimes were a time of rising industrialism in Mexico that dramatically affected the lives of workers. Much of what we know about their experience is based on the histories of male workers; now Susie Porter takes a new look at industrialization in Mexico that focuses on women wage earners across the work force, from factory workers to street vendors. Working Women in Mexico City offers a new look at this transitional era to reveal that industrialization, in some ways more than revolution, brought about changes in the daily lives of Mexican women. Industrialization brought women into new jobs, prompting new public discussion of the moral implications of their work. Drawing on a wealth of material, from petitions of working women to government factory inspection reports, Porter shows how a shifting cultural understanding of working women informed labor relations, social legislation, government institutions, and ultimately the construction of female citizenship. At the beginning of this period, women worked primarily in the female-dominated cigarette and clothing factories, which were thought of as conducive to protecting feminine morality, but by 1930 they worked in a wide variety of industries. Yet material conditions transformed more rapidly than cultural understandings of working women, and although the nation's political climate changed, much about women's experiences as industrial workers and street vendors remained the same. As Porter shows, by the close of this period women's responsibilities and rights of citizenship—such as the right to work, organize, and participate in public debate—were contingent upon class-informed notions of female sexual morality and domesticity. Although much scholarship has treated Mexican women's history, little has focused on this critical phase of industrialization and even less on the circumstances of the tortilleras or market women. By tracing the ways in which material conditions and public discourse about morality affected working women, Porter's work sheds new light on their lives and poses important questions for understanding social stratification in Mexican history.