Historians have long relied on the railroad as a representation of Porfirio Díaz's modernizing regime and the progress and conflicts that it brought to the Mexican countryside. Michael Matthews reminds us that this symbolic usage is nothing new. Matthews sets out to demonstrate how the railroad became a forceful metaphor for both supporters and critics of the Díaz regime during the Porfiriato. Used by the government to forge a national identity through both material connections and cultural production, the benefits of the railroad also became a tool for justifying the government's increased authoritarianism. At the same time, critics of the regime found in the railroad an equally potent means of demonstrating the social and political costs of modernization. Through the railroad and its many representations, Matthews illustrates the contested nature of Porfirian development and provides a deeper history for the intellectual critiques...

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