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Mexicans, perhaps more than most peoples, have long been preoccupied with defining what it means to be Mexican, such that the terms lo mexicano and mexicanidad have become standard intellectual fare. The postrevolutionary Mexican state seized on some of the supposed elements of mexicanidad to legitimize and sustain the lengthy rule of its official party, the PRI, adding a hegemonic political dimension to the question. While consensus on so slippery an issue is clearly impossible, part I presents several classic statements on the topic of the Mexican character. The final reading by Alma Guillermoprieto poses a critical question: In this age of globalization of capital and media, can the notion of “lo mexicano” finally be threatened with extinction?

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