The “inevitable bandstand” refers to the music building placed in the central plaza of main towns in Mexico between the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Along with statues of national heroes, it is an emblem of order, civic life, and modernity. Charles Heath revives the concept of civil religion as interpreted by Robert Bellah to argue that the Oaxaca state band played a central ideological role in the political and social plans and programs of the state.

Bellah's discussion of a civil religion in the United States called attention to the presence of a religious discourse in the political speeches of the country's founding fathers and more recent politicians. This discourse involved the power of God as the guiding force to rule and govern the country. Is it viable to interpret nineteenth-century Mexican liberal patriotic sentiments as...

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