This political biography explores the ambiguous ethnicity of Bartolomé García Correa (1893-1978), the first person of Maya descent to govern Yucatán since the Spanish Conquest. Son of an upwardly mobile, Maya-speaking, afromestizo middle-class family, García Correa's normal education and ties to the Church set him on a path to socioeconomic success in the autumn of the Porfiriato. During the Mexican Revolution, he reinvented himself as a revolutionary politico and embraced indigenism. Using the latter, he could celebrate the Maya in the abstract while urging acculturation. Indeed, he represented himself as an authority on the Maya and as a model outcome of indigenista assimilation. Part revolutionary cacique (or boss), part ethnic broker, he used his mastery of Yucatec Maya and populist style to parry demands from below and to accommodate the new political and old economic elites. Still, he resisted self-identifying as Maya, which would have compromised his hard-won mestizo status. His rise culminated in the governorship in 1930. White enemies' attacks on García Correa's Maya background helped undo his administration, although his influence over postrevolutionary politics endured for decades.

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