This stunning regional history, by a scholar who has dedicated more than two decades to the study of Oaxaca, is one of the most thorough and well-documented revisions of centralist historiography. Chassen-López’s major objective is to refute the “Black Legend” of Oaxaca. This myth, created by scholars and statesman steeped in nineteenth-century liberalism, typecast Oaxaca, as well as other southern states, as the antimodern, backward, barbarous, and reactionary foil to their imagined nation. She ably demonstrates that Oaxaca’s economy, society, politics, and culture were not so distinct from the rest of central and southern Mexico. Following “an insurgent reading of history,” as proposed by Gyan Prakash, she argues that the process of Mexican state formation during the Restored Republic and the Porfiriato must be examined from the bottom up, because all “social classes and ethnicities of Mexico participated in the shaping of the state and national identity” (p. 25). She...

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