Christina Jiménez's new book shows how ordinary residents of Morelia, Michoacán, helped modernize their city and forge a more inclusive urban society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The study centers on the petitions that Morelians sent their municipal government requesting public services and licenses to operate market stalls, sell newspapers, shine shoes, and practice other trades in the city's public spaces. Parsing these sources, Jiménez demonstrates that urban modernization in Morelia was anything but a top-down affair; residents employed the same rhetoric of modernity as the city's elites to demand utilities like street lighting and sewers and often paid for and installed those services themselves when officials balked. Indeed, Jiménez shows that the impetus for such projects often came from residents, not their governments. Through their negotiations with local officials, poor and working-class Morelians helped create an urban public...

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