Alexander Dawson sets out to understand how indigenismo functioned both as a legitimizing ideology and as a means of popular mobilization in postrevolutionary Mexico. At the same time, he charts how indigenista institutions—boarding schools, the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DAI), and the National Indigenous Institution (INI)—fostered a cohort of bilingual, bicultural indigenous men (capacitados). As such, his work bridges the new cultural history of Mexico and anthropological critiques of indigenismo. Its great value lays in the careful historical analysis of indigenista ideology and bureaucracies, above all the struggle between assimilationism, personified by Manuel Gamio, and the plurinationalism exemplified by Móises Sáenz. Populist president Lázaro Cárde-nas (1934–40) initially favored Sáenz’s approach and institutionalized it in the DAI. In the end, Cárdenas reverted to an assimilationist goal—to “Mexicanize the Indian”—and put political hack Graciano Sánchez atop the DAI. In the more conservative 1940s...

You do not currently have access to this content.