In the historiography of twentieth-century Mexico, the “new cultural history” has had its greatest impact on rural studies of the Mexican Revolution and postrevolutionary state formation from 1910 to 1940. In this essay I examine how this new historical perspective can assist scholars in moving beyond revisionist interpretations of the revolution, which have focused on the role of the emerging central state and its caudillo henchmen in manipulating the masses in the interests of a bourgeois project. Cultural approaches can help us understand both popular participation in politics and the cultural dimensions of peasant/state interaction. These approaches can also shed light on state/subject relations as these have evolved since 1910. In this essay I address three questions: 1) the place of the new cultural history in Mexican revolutionary historiography; 2) certain useful working categories it brings to this historiography; and 3) issues of methodology and sources as they pertain to the study of early postrevolutionary Mexico.

Revisionist history flourished in the aftermath of the Mexican student movement of 1968 and its repression by the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). The student movement was part of mobilizations of youth in several countries that questioned the pretensions of the Cold War coalition forged after World War II to promote democracy and material progress. In Mexican studies, a new generation of scholars challenged then prevailing interpretations of the Mexican Revolution as a popular rebellion that sought emancipation from backwardness, exploitation, and injustice, goals that were subsequently attained through postrevolutionary state polities. From the vantage point of intellectual youth affected by the events of 1968, a different perspective seemed appropriate: the Mexican Revolution had produced a centralized, single-party state that promoted capitalist growth and authoritarianism at the expense of social welfare and democracy. Revisionist inquiry into Mexican revolutionary history saw the central state as a principal actor and effective manipulator of the masses.1 In political science and sociology, revisionist scholarship abandoned older formulations that depicted the ruling PRI as an effective arena for articulating and bargaining over class interests. A new paradigm stressed centralized power, brokered by a narrow set of actors and institutions operating through patronage, co-optation, and repression.2 For their part, anthropologists challenged a community studies tradition that had lauded processes of secularization and modernization. New structuralist analyses stressed how the advance of capitalism and PRI politics had impoverished and marginalized indigenous peoples.3

Beginning in the 1980s, at least four intersecting processes encouraged a renewed historiographic interest in understanding popular participation in the Mexican Revolution and its immediate aftermath. First, almost two decades of energetic mapping of the revolutionary experience across regions and localities brought into question the strength of the postrevolutionary state, the homogeneity of the countryside, and the manipulability of the peasantry. A wealth of studies demonstrated the complexity and variety of revolutionary processes and the diversity of peasant participation at the regional and local levels.4 Second, historians began to apply new conceptualizations in comparative peasant studies to their examination of the Mexican countryside, especially James Scott’s early work on the notion of a peasant moral economy and subsistence ethic and his subsequent analysis of peasant agency and protest.5 At the same time, anthropologists’ historical ethnographies of peasant communities attended to culture, family, and daily life, as well as to politics and economics, and served to illuminate the complexity of peasant/state relations in the decades following the revolutionary upheaval.6 Third, since the 1980s there has been a shift in paradigms in social history from one predominantly economic and structuralist, whether in the guise of modernization theory or Marxism, to one more sensitive to issues of culture, dispersed power, contingency, and representation. Fourth, again beginning in the 1980s, Mexican citizens have used elections and other forms of mobilization to challenge the PRI political monopoly in ways more generalized and sustained than in the past. This challenge has raised questions about how subject/state relations and citizenship formation had been constituted during the revolution and the ensuing period of state formation. These models of citizenship were distinct from those of the prerevolutionary period and established the basis for forms and practices that evolved in the period after 1940.

In a 1985 essay, Alan Knight crystallized the argument for a postrevisionist inquiry into the Mexican revolutionary process.7 Drawing upon his rich and comprehensive study of the years of armed mobilization, Knight revived the debunked assertion that popular forces, especially the peasantry, had a clear impact on revolutionary outcomes and state formation. In the 1920s the state was not the Leviathan the revisionists had imagined, but a fledgling that could be consolidated and strengthened only through processes that accommodated potentially conflictive social groups and their interests. Knight’s work here and elsewhere has suggested that the major issue of the Mexican Revolution was not class struggle but the collapse of the state and the necessity of building a new one amid widespread social mobilization, dispersed political and military power, and the reassertion of regional and local autonomy. In their collection of essays on regional politics in Mexico in the 1920s, Thomas Benjamin and Mark Wasserman argued that politicians built the postrevolutionary state through popular movements. The relationship between the state and popular classes was one of mutual construction, not a one-way street of state imposition.8 Florencia Mallon took this reasoning further. She argued that to consolidate itself, the postrevolutionary state had to reach down to the local level, where it tapped into a reservoir of popular culture. It was access to this culture that eventually brought the Mexican state the hegemonic and cultural dominion that it had been unable to attain in the nineteenth century and that most other Latin American countries have failed to achieve in the twentieth.9

In 1994, Everyday Forms of State Formation, edited by Gilbert Joseph and Daniel Nugent, marked a further advance in postrevisionist scholarship. In their introduction the editors stated that the intent of the essays in their volume was to explore the relationship between the dynamics of state formation and popular political cultures; to flesh out the varied modes through which popular movements acted upon the revolution, the state, and society; to gain a clearer understanding of the transformation of social experience and the identity of the agents and agencies that effected these transformations; and to examine how popular involvement in official projects created the conditions for negotiation and the emergence of new forms of domination.10 In addressing these issues, the contributors to Everyday Forms of State Formation exemplified an ongoing shift toward culturalist perspectives in Mexican revolutionary historiography.

This shift can be detected in the historical and anthropological studies that inform new scholarship as well as in the locus of inquiry and theoretical grounding that such studies entail. Poststructuralist theory (Michel Foucault, and sometimes Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes) is often directly cited or enters through other channels, such as the studies of hegemony elaborated by Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau; cultural studies identified with such scholars as Stuart Hall in England, and Nestor García Canclini and Jesús Martín Barbero in Latin America; gender studies, especially the pathbreaking work of Joan Scott; anthropological theories of the colonial encounter, such as those of John and Jean Comaroff; and the Subaltern Studies Project, notably the work of Indian scholars Ranajit Guha, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Cyan Prakash, and Partha Chaterjee.11 Often these schools and scholars draw upon Marxist thought—in particular that of Antonio Gramsci, Raymond Williams, and E. P. Thompson—that privileges culture over economically determined structures. And while essays in Everyday Forms of State Formation addressed the culturalist theory elaborated by Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer in The Great Arch, other scholars have invoked Emile Durkheim, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jürgen Habermas to approach issues of culture and power.12 In historical and anthropological analysis, there has been a shift away from economic explanations for popular mobilizations and from macromodels of class-based, national social structure. Ritual, symbolic action, and representations of reality and meaning constructed in social context and articulated in discourse have become key to reconstructing identity and understanding popular action. Microhistory and daily life constitute the preferred locus of inquiry.13

Often the very shift in the focus of inquiry from the central state and region to the local level has prompted the use of studies that explore cultural and symbolic representations. Their more nuanced and subtle categories of analysis help in the interpretation of local-level phenomena.14 What distinguishes current cultural history from other immensely useful local studies, such as Luis Gonzalez’s Pueblo en Vilo as well as Paul Friedrich’s Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village and The Princes of Naranja, is how it uses new categories of analysis in an effort to understand the relation of local culture and agency to regional and national processes.15 Far from falling into the abyss of exploring experience at the expense of structure, the new cultural history can contribute to a more complex understanding of the dynamics of operative structures in twentieth-century Mexico if those practicing it combine culturalist approaches with continued attention to economic processes and to layers of political power.16

Despite the diversity of theoretical and empirical work informing their analysis, those practicing cultural history share certain things in common: I) an emphasis on subjectivity, de-centering, and representation; 2) a sense that culture creates meaning, informs action, and is itself an object of struggle; 3) a belief in the dispersed and multiple nature of power and a keen awareness that power and culture are intrinsically related; and 4) a methodological emphasis on ethnography. Although the extant scholarship is incipient and scant, it is substantial in its suggestive quality, theoretical grounding, and empirical accomplishments. Here I shall draw from this emerging body of work not in a comprehensive way but in order to discuss certain categories of analysis, particularly the diversity of their applications, how they contribute to our understanding of state/peasant relations and peasant political participation, and some problems they raise.

Concepts and Categories

In his essay in Everyday Forms of State Formation, Alan Knight stresses that new concepts are useful if they provide the tools for making sense of concrete examples. They should be applied as organizing concepts and working categories. Their choice and refinement depends upon a sustained and critical dialogue with empirical evidence.17 Here I explore the concepts and categories of space, identity, gender, discourse, ritual, and hegemony. I have subsumed the category of gender under that of identity, in part because it is the least developed in current analysis. I give less time to ritual for the opposite reason. Although by far the most developed of these categories in the historical literature, ritual is also the one around which there is greatest consensus in analytical approach and interpretation. I focus most of my discussion on the category of identity and introduce discourse as a way of detecting identity. Discourse as a concept also enters into my discussion of ritual and hegemony.

Space is a category familiar to Mexican historians. Almost from its inception, and perhaps because of its early close association with geography and demography, the historiography of colonial Mexico has paid close attention to space: to the different perceptions and occupations of space by Spanish colonizers and native societies; to the divergent ways in which each of these contending elements of colonial society invested space with political and symbolic meaning; and to the social occupation of urban space by castas, Indians, and Europeans.18 Nor has spatial analysis been absent from the historiography of the Mexican Revolution. Friedrich Katz’s 1974 essay on the regional variations in land tenure and labor relations that produced distinct forms of revolutionary mobilization in 1910 was a masterful spatial analysis; it set off a series of studies that mapped the locations of estate workers, smallholders, sharecroppers, renters, and migratory workers in different regions.19 Scholars examining peasant mobilization have emphasized how competition for land and water between neighboring villages, divisions between villagers and hacienda workers, and historic rivalries between towns impeded the building of autonomous, sustained peasant movements during the revolution.20

A cultural approach to space does not overlook these economic and political dimensions, but it is more comprehensive. Space is understood to be socially constituted and socially constituting. The ways we perceive, value, and occupy physical space are themselves shaped by our spatially organized communities (ranging from local villages to nation-states) and sites within them that socialize us, create symbolic meaning, and articulate unequal power relations. These sites may be institutions (schools, churches, workplaces, town halls, jails) or other loci of social interaction (the house, the street, the well, the kitchen, the milpa, the market, the cemetery, the confessional, the courtroom).21

In his Exits from the Labyrinth, Claudio Lomnitz develops a spatial approach to the production of local, regional, and national culture. He recognizes the importance of peasant economic and political activities but situates these in a more complex organization of local and regional space. For Lomnitz, intimate culture is class culture spatially organized. To take an obvious example, while peasants constitute a class in economic terms, the intimate culture of a peasant hamlet within the confines of a hacienda will differ from that of a legally constituted pueblo on its periphery. These differences between hamlet and pueblo will manifest themselves in the density of sites or spaces that constitute social relations (such as those of government, worship, commercial exchange and production, and education); in the nature and intensity of relations that each maintains with dominant social classes (such as hacienda owners and other land owners, petit bourgeois merchants, and officeholders); and in patterns of internal social differentiation. For Lomnitz, the culture of social relations is the hierarchical relation between intimate cultures in regional space. It is expressed through discourse, symbols, and rituals enacted within religious, political, economic, and social frames. These discourses and symbols articulate and confirm unequal power relations within and between intimate cultures.22

If class cultures and inequalities are spatially organized, it follows that revolutions can provoke enormous contestations over the arrangement, possession, and symbolic meaning of space. In his Indians into Mexicans, David Frye describes how in the course of the nineteenth century villagers in the municipality of Mezquitic, San Luis Potosí, lost land to the hacienda of La Parada. For both villagers and estate owners, this process was symbolized by the building of hacienda walls that cut through the fields, forests, and mountains once owned by communities. For villagers, the walls represented not only intrusion, but also exclusion. The owners restricted and policed the entry of villagers who supplied the hacienda and those who worked there. The hacendados discriminated against the villagers, paying them less for work and charging them more to use pasture than resident workers, whom the villagers called “consentidos,” brownnosers who spent their time gossiping with the bosses in exchange for privileged access to land and other goods. In 1924 the villagers of Mezquitic scaled the walls and dismantled the heart of La Parada, taking its cattle and horses, demolishing its casco (great house) and chapel, and tearing up the private train tracks. They hauled away bricks and boards to build their own houses. In part, theirs was an act of redistributive justice. But by combining archival sources with oral history, Frye found that villagers had additional motives. They were searching for treasure. The hacendados had arrogantly displayed their wealth as power and in the opinion of the villagers, where there was power there would be treasure. By probing a peasant assault on a particular space, Frye uncovers a component of peasant mentalité that had escaped the attention of historians. As anthropologists have shown, the idiom of treasure looms large in Mexican peasant explanations of wealth, power, and mobility that are distinctly at odds with economist thinking.23

In their efforts to promote their greater autonomy and freedom by destroying hierarchical arrangements of rural space, Mexican peasants might find the postrevolutionary governments to be either allies or enemies. In her work on revolutionary schools in Tlaxcala during the 1920s, Elsie Rockwell found that the act of constructing a schoolhouse was vitally important to communities struggling for independence from dominating head towns and haciendas. A school building symbolized newfound autonomy from outside oppressors. The villagers wanted this institutional space that during the Porfiriato had been reserved for wealthier, more powerful towns.24 On the other hand, in his contribution to Everyday Forms of State Formation, Jan Rus recounts how the Tzotzil peoples of Chamula in Chiapas torched a state school in 1933 because they perceived it as a institution that their ladino (non-Indian) oppressors were trying to force on a hamlet that the Tzotzils were intent on reclaiming as an exclusively indigenous space separate from the ladino head town.25

Agents of the postrevolutionary state understood the symbolic importance of space and its relationship to power. However, in their efforts to conquer, eliminate, or marginalize religious spaces, they severely underestimated the intensity of popular feelings. Thus when postrevolutionary governments continued the Porfirian project of removing cemeteries from the church atrium to the outskirts of town—ostensibly for hygienic reasons, but in fact to destroy the church as the coalescing force of village life—their tampering with the village’s ancestors and collective memory created tension and dramatic conflict.26 Even more provocative was the Cardenista invasion of the church in Ario, Michoacán, where they torched the Virgin and danced at the altar, as recounted by Marjorie Becker; or similar attacks on sacred space by antireligionists in Sonora, as described by Adrian Bantjes.27 The evidence from these conflicts over religious space makes it difficult to sustain revisionist notions of an all-powerful state imposing its will on the masses in a dyadic struggle between state and people. On the one hand, popular hostility toward the state’s antireligious policy forced the government to back down. On the other hand, government policies were more often than not carried out by local people.

A careful examination of these contests raises questions about leftist revisionist assumptions that peasants defending religious space were manipulated by Catholic elites. Marjorie Becker, in her 1987 essay “Black and White and Color,” and Claudio Lomnitz, in Exits from, the Labyrinth, argue that in certain instances villagers reappropriated churches and chapels during the revolution, severing them from their association with dominant elites while defending them as autonomous community spaces that legitimized peasant knowledge.28 The fury of Mayo Indians of Sonora over the destruction of their saints, as described by Adrian Bantjes, had little to do with Catholic elites and everything to do with a defense of ethnic culture and territory.29

But neither does this recent research support the conservative revisionist argument that peasants who joined the cristero war against the government in 1927 were the authentic defenders of peasant culture, while those assaulting religious space were misguided victims of government manipulation. Marjorie Becker seeks an explanation for why certain poor women of Ario, longtime participants in a Catholic culture of social relations and beliefs, danced at the altar in defiance of their commanding icon, La Purísima, the Virgin Mary. After analyzing a series of interviews that she conducted with local women, Becker concludes that some women danced to support their husbands’ quest for land while others danced to challenge what they perceived to be an oppressive hierarchy of social relations. Thus after defiling the sacred space of the church, one woman felt liberated enough to insult and spit at a rich woman who had long looked down upon her.30

In addition, attention to space as a sociocultural category qualifies the revisionist contention that peasant/state interaction only resulted in new forms of top-down control, for such interaction also produced new forms of subaltern association across geographic space. In their Summer of Discontent, Seasons of Upheaval, Allen Wells and Gilbert Joseph map the spatial organization of plantations and villages that facilitated the henequen boom in Porfirian Yucatán. They highlight the role of cabecillas, or brokers, who, drawn from the smallholder, artisan, and commercial sectors of villages, secured labor and commercial goods for estates while attempting to defend the interests of their local peasant clienteles in an increasingly oppressive and coercive setting. In 1911 the cabecillas mobilized peasants across towns and haciendas in an insurgency that briefly overcame the spatial and social divisions among campesinos. The collapse of this unity facilitated the reestablishment of elite power and, later, the emergence of the cabecillas as caciques. Wells and Joseph question the revisionist interpretation of the cabecilla as a strong leader selling out the interests of inept, faceless followers to the bourgeois state. In regional power domains situated between state-level political machines and local fiefdoms, the cabecillas safeguarded local peasant interests and autonomies while negotiating the insertion of new state-sponsored forms that encouraged cross-community association: Ligas de Resistencia, official party clubs, youth groups, civic rituals, cultural evenings, and baseball teams.31 In my own study of revolutionary schools in Tecamachalco in central Puebla, I noted how violent intra- and inter-community divisions among campesinos, as well as conflicts between villagers and resident hacienda workers, were mitigated by the activities of the Confederación Nacional Campesina (CNC) and by unifying local rituals and basketball competitions promoted by teachers.32 These new forms of association across regional space may have nurtured a campesino class consciousness that existed before only in brief moments of mobilization. They generated new forms of resistance, mobilization, and reclamation and helped peasants obtain resources from the state vital to survival. Class identification and consciousness can coexist with patron-clientelism and practices of caciquismo.

The notion of social space is closely related to the concept of identity. Indeed, identity is shaped at sites of socialization. Identity, as defined here, cannot be reduced to notions of economic interest or positioning in relations of production. It is also deeper, and more intimate and specific, than generic notions of the moral economy built around the subsistence ethic. It is historically embedded in local experience and constructed through memory and practice. While forged in local experience, identity is not formed in isolation, but in relation to broader social formations, information systems, events, and interaction with the state. It is relational and grounded in differences between the self and others. It reflects and constitutes power and unequal power relations. For instance, identity is gendered, establishing different behaviors, expectations, and power relations for men and women. Individuals and groups have multiple identities that shift according to time and context. Identities may be social, cultural, or political. Here I am concerned with political identity as it draws upon and relates to social and cultural identity.33 To detect these in the historical record, the historian must rely to a large extent on peasant discourses, i.e. the languages that order reality, confer meaning and value, create knowledge, and influence social practice.34

Ana María Alonso and Daniel Nugent reconstruct sociopolitical identity in the présidial soldier community of Namiquipa, Chihuahua. To do so they analyze discourse as peasants speak through the archival record and through oral testimonies. They argue that male peasants in Namiquipa found their identity in the service they provided the state in fighting “savage” Indians beginning in the mid-eighteenth century. The honor of these men became invested in their dominion over Indians and women and their possession and cultivation of land received in state compensation for services rendered. In the nineteenth century, they could relate to the postindependence elite ideology of liberalism because they could evoke it in the name of their communal and individual autonomy. However, Porfirian development and autocratic rule threatened their masculine sense of honor derived from their soldiering activities as well as their control over land and labor, women and children, and local political institutions. The government they had respected as a “good father” who had recognized their rights, became a cruel, tyrannical “stepfather.” Their honor profoundly violated, these men joined the revolution and, afterwards, sparred with the postrevolutionary state and subverted official notions of land reform by recreating their ancestral notions of landownership and use within their ejido.35

Alonso and Nugent suggest little change in the dominant identity and discourse of Namiquipans through the revolution. By contrast, William French has looked at peasants who were forced by Porfirian development projects from their presidial domains into wage-labor in the mines of Parral, Chihuahua. In the face of management, police, and middle-class efforts to change and regulate their behavior, the peasant workers pressed claims to dignity and justice by deploying a set of overlapping discourses: that of presidial male honor linked to physical and sexual prowess and competition among “equals”; a subsistence ethic that legitimized the pocketing of ore that companies claimed; and a discourse of individual rights drawn from the liberal Mexican Constitution of 1857.36 Over time, some peasant workers began to develop new identities in response to their altered work and social contexts and the dominant discourses that permeated these contexts. They began to articulate claims based on the monetary value of their labor while adopting certain standards of middle-class “decency.” During the revolution, however, scores of mineworkers joined contingents of Namiquipans to reassert a historical peasant soldier identity. As disorder deepened, many entered the mines on their own account, pocketing and selling ore, while others joined revolutionary army officers in sacking mining towns and seizing bullion and supply shipments. By 1920 some belonged to organized gangs of thieves working in cahoots with merchants and officials. Others experimented with political identities forged in interaction with the fledgling state. Popular upheaval forced politicians to adopt new discourses that would reverberate with the demands and interests of mobilized and mobilizable groups. Thus, the Chihuahua state government passed a new labor law guaranteeing workers’ rights, and political parties organized around new identities—the “clase trabajadora” or “clase laborante”—with new antagonists—the “gringo” mine-owners who were cast as enemies of the “pueblo mexicano” and its government.37

French highlights the resurgence of male peasant violence as a component of revolutionary identity. Alan Knight has written insightfully on the legacy of violence bequeathed by the years of civil war; the problem also needs to be looked at in the context of post-1920 state formation.38 In reconstituting the state, politicians may have wished to domesticate and pacify armed men, but they also promoted new masculine identities linked to violence—not only in the form of organized theft and coercion, but through the promotion of social conflict. Male violence was promoted by a state fashioned by generals and soldiers, one that staked its formation on an alteration of relations of property and power, a necessarily violent proposition.

In a recent article, Christopher Boyer argues that in the 1920s young peasant men from Michoacán not only found new identities and power in the state government’s discourse of peasant rights to land and its attack on “reactionary” hacendados and priests, but they also found empowerment in the peasant militias that the government had authorized to combat armed hacendado opposition to land reform.39 Among these young men were those whose careers Paul Friedrich traces in The Princes of Naranja. Friedrich shows the young agraristas of Michoacán’s Zacapu Valley grown old and tyrannical through prolonged rule that had been sustained by killing, state patronage, social terrorism in the name of ideological purity, and ruthless disregard for democratic procedure. Friedrich interprets the violence of the “princes” as a response to opportunity in the context of local material and cultural conditions. The princes began their political careers as fatherless, semidelinquent, underemployed youth raised by women in a community impoverished and disaggregated by hacienda expansion. At the same time, they brought their male peasant competitiveness and bravado, as well as their sense of kinship solidarity and rivalry, to new state institutions, such as agrarian militias, and discourses, such as those of land reform and anticlericalism.40 To what extent was this behavior replicated in different parts of Mexico and how enduring did it become? Can it be periodized? What forms of gendered citizenship did it encourage? What impact did it have on the citizenship of women? We need to look at gendered violence as part of Mexican political culture as it was constituted across time and space.

In her recent study of popular movements and the cristero war (1927-29) in Michoacán, Jennie Purnell examines identity in Naranja and the Zacapu Valley from another perspective. She is interested in understanding the factors that led communities to forge alliances with one or another of the broad, contending sociopolitical military networks that traversed the region: that of the emerging state or militant Catholicism. A political scientist probing the relationship between identity and social movements, Purnell relies upon a wealth of local histories, ethnographies, and collections of oral testimony and folk tales, supplemented by her own considerable archival work.41 She argues that political identities are forged through strategic action when local interests meet a particular conjuncture of opportunities and threats, of potential allies and available discourses.42 Local interests are not only material and economic; they are defined by historically forged understandings of authority, resource management, justice, legitimacy, and religious practice that operate within local power structures. Thus the mestizo ranchero community of San José de Gracia and the Purépecha town of San Juan Parangaricutiro in the Tarascan sierra turned their social religiosity into political Catholicism because a majority of villagers saw state programs of agrarianism and anticlericalism as threats to their control over resources, governmental institutions, and religious life. By contrast, Purépecha communities in the Zacapu Valley, such as Naranja, had had their intimate cultures battered and disaggregated by Porfirian economic growth and expansion. In these villages, significant factions (led by the young men described by Boyer and Friedrich) saw in state programs a chance to recuperate and alter local control over material, political, and symbolic life.

For Purnell, peasant partisanship in the cristero rebellion may be explained in terms of the interaction of historical legacies of local cultural meanings, conflict, and transformation with the political and strategic context of state formation.43 Like other scholars, she finds the conservative revisionist assertion that the Cristiada represented a defense of peasant culture a generalization too broad to be useful. She also makes a distinction between political and sociocultural identity. Culturally, “cristero” San Juan and “agrarista” Naranja had much in common: they were both participants in a regional Purépecha peasant culture based upon a shared language; similar land use patterns, political and religious institutions, and aesthetics; and integrated economies. San Juan had much less in common with the cristero ranchero town of San José de Gracia, where people proudly proclaimed the whiteness of their skin, despised the “Indians” of neighboring Mazamitla and the “peones de abajo,” milked cows more than they worked milpas, and lived under the governance of parish priests. “Partisanship in the cristero rebellion,” she writes, “was very much a local affair, rooted in specific histories and cultures that do not correspond well to categories of class, ethnicity, or degrees of religiosity.”44

Purnell’s work, along with that of others on Michoacán, raises questions about ethnicity as a category of identity in the revolutionary process and in the historiography of the revolution.45 While the Purépecha of Michoacán shared a regional culture, they did not identify as Purépecha during the revolution. Despite attempts by early Purépecha agraristas to form a Federación de la Raza Indígena, villages resumed historic disputes over boundaries and jurisdictional hierarchies while intracommunity factions mobilized around new inequalities promoted by Porfirian economic expansion. In these disputes, each faction took up a banner, whether agrarista or cristero. Both Purnell and Becker show that at least through the 1930s, the “Indian” identity that the Cardenistas wished to establish in Michoacán as a political force eluded them. Similarly, in Yucatán, as described by Ben Fallaw, Cardenista attempts to create a political movement based on Mayan identity foundered on the shoals of long-standing divisions among Maya speakers and new competing political allegiances created in the revolutionary process.46

In regard to the revolutionary process, we are as unable to generalize about ethnicity as we are about the peasantry. The assertion that all Indians fared poorly in the revolution reflects the political sentiments and theoretical approaches of revisionist scholarship. Structuralist anthropology and sociology, like structuralist history, were fundamentally materialist. In the interests of documenting domination, exploitation, and marginalization, these schools of thought often ignored the nonmaterial, symbolic aspects of indigenous life. In her 1987 essay “Black and White and Color,” Marjorie Becker argues that cultural practices in indigenous communities were fighting issues. She describes material life in a Purépecha fishing village as permeated with symbolic meanings enacted through sociocultural organization. Local rationality completely eluded Cardenista educators, with their materialist understanding of social relations. Spokespersons for this community vociferously objected to these missionaries of “improvement.”47

Emerging scholarship has shown that indigenous engagement with the revolution was particular and diverse. It varied according to preconquest histories, colonial experiences, and interaction with nineteenth-century processes of state formation and economic expansion. Indigenous engagements depended upon how these histories were constructed and articulated through power configurations in indigenous societies. Communities, like nations, are imagined constructions, and dominant power configurations within them represent and articulate collective identities. Cultural practices are related to power configurations and become objects of political struggle. Recent examinations of the Yaquis of Sonora, the Tzotzils of Chamula, and the Zapotecs of Juchitán in the Tehuantepec Isthmus of Oaxaca demonstrate how power blocks within ethnic communities interacted with state representatives to preserve and promote their cultural-political projects and affirm particular collective identities. These studies also demonstrate the accommodationist nature of state politics. Each negotiation was shaped by the realpolitik of President Cárdenas in the 1930s, as he sought to consolidate central control over the three peripheral states of Sonora, Chiapas, and Oaxaca. And each negotiation compromised Cárdenas’s own program of ethnic secularization and integration. While each resolution involved the creation of new forms of domination, it also fostered a politics protective of local interests and cultural practices.

In the nineteenth century, the Yaquis of Sonora had valiantly but unsuccessfully defended their ancestral valley lands from Mexican armies and entrepreneurs. Most Yaquis were forced from the valley. Those who were unable to find refuge on Sonoran haciendas and in the United States Southwest were deported to work on Yucatecan plantations. In the hope of recuperating their homeland, the Yaquis became one of the few indigenous groups to send strong contingents into the revolutionary armies. When in the 1920s the government reneged on its promises, the Yaquis in the valley rebelled again, only to be bombed by Mexican planes, pressed into army units, and sent to other parts of the country. In the 1930s hundreds returned from their forced exile in Mexico and the United States to the valley, where the Mexican army segregated them on the western side of the Yaqui River.

As I pieced together information from archival records, life histories, and the studies and field notes of anthropologists, I reasoned that in the 1930s Yaqui history could have followed two possible trajectories.48 The Yaquis might have followed the assimilationist program promoted by generals, politicians, and entrepreneurs associated with the jefe máximo, Plutarco Elías Calles: becoming modern by working for Mexican landowners in the valley. It was a feasible option, as the Yaquis were seasoned proletarians and well-traveled neophytes of modern consumerism. Moreover, the majority were on the payroll of the Mexican army, a position that fostered dependency and compliance. However, the Yaquis opted for an alternative project that was both religious and autonomous. The group promoting this project controlled Yaqui military and governing institutions. It also dominated the apparatus of collective affirmation: the religious organizations that bound every male and female Yaqui, from child to elder, in ritual throughout the Lenten season. The revival of religious life in the valley in the 1930s had intense meaning for people who had partially kept alive their cultural forms through a wrenching diaspora. To be once again able to enact them fully and freely in unprecedented numbers, in what oral tradition assured them was their sacred homeland, constituted an extraordinarily powerful experience. In addition, the Yaqui autonomists’ strong ethnic pride and their tales of heroic, anti-Mexican Yaqui history offered Yaquis an antidote to the virulent racism they faced in everyday life in southern Sonora.

At a critical point, President Cárdenas empowered the religious faction—in part to defeat his Callista rivals in the semiautonomous state of Sonora. He recognized the authority of the Yaqui governors and religious maestros and gave the Yaquis 425,000 hectares of land, the only land grant based on ethnic identity in modern Mexican history. He provided them with material assistance in the hope that they would become the “Indians” the central state imagined: modern entrepreneurs who maintained what the government identified as “positive” ethnic traits, such as cooperative work and artistry. Instead, the Yaquis used the resources Cárdenas gave them to recreate a precapitalist ethnic unity built around the fulfillment of religious obligations.

The case of the Tzotzil peoples of Chamula presents another variation on the linkages between culture, power, and identity in state/indigenous relations during the revolution. Jan Rus recounts how the Tzotzils of Chamula and surrounding communities had taken advantage of the revolutionary opening to mark off an autonomous space from ladino society.49 During the Cárdenas presidency, they found themselves invaded by bilingual escribanos sent by the governor’s agent of indigenous affairs to create new popular organizations. Linked to the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, the precursor of the PRI, these organizations pressed for land, fought to improve the abysmal conditions of migrant Tzotzil contract workers on coffee plantations, and protested local ladino abuses and discrimination. To gain legitimacy among the Tzotzils, the escribanos had to accept the cultural boundaries, practices, and institutions as defined by the dominant Tzotzil male elders. They began to assume religious cargos and gained respect through their defense of Chamula interests. For instance, Cardenista teetotalers had to come to terms with the material and symbolic importance of liquor among the Tzotzils. In the Posh war of the 1940s, escribanos led communities in defense of local production and distribution of aguardiente against ladino attempts to impose a state liquor monopoly.

The Zapotecs of Juchitán, recently studied by Howard Campbell and Jeffrey Rubin, exemplify another case in which culture, power, and ethnic identity are linked in the revolutionary process. Owing in large part to high-level state patronage and protection, up to the eve of revolution Juchitecos had preserved much more autonomy than either the Tzotzils or Yaquis, while experiencing a far greater degree of social differentiation than either. A peripheral agrarian village on a wind-swept, arid plain, Juchitán had attracted little interest among Spanish colonizers. This colonial history of neglect helped to fortify and sustain a postindependence posture of collective, violent resistance to outside intruders.50 For their participation in the wars against the French and their support of his presidency, Porfirio Díaz respected Juchitán’s relative independence and sponsored the higher education of its elite sons in Mexico City. Some became high-ranking government officials who bestowed favors and promoted Juchitán’s economic growth.51 Others became Mexico City intellectuals who wrote about the Zapotec language and culture and participated with local intellectuals and artists in the construction of a Juchitecan history of heroic independence defended by ferocious men and sensuous, militant women. This history was repeatedly elaborated in oral legend, poetry, and musical compositions integral to a collective aesthetics of daily life enacted in constant velas (fiestas), processions, life-cycle ceremonies, and marketplace and barroom banter.52

The majority of Juchitecans joined the revolution under the leadership of a wealthy landowner to defend local autonomy from outside meddlers and a small clique of internal collaborators. From the early 1920s, the sociopolitical cohesion of Juchitán benefited from official cultural nationalism, as Juchitecan intellectuals in Mexico City seized the moment of postrevolutionary artistic euphoria to elaborate further on their rich history and aesthetics. José Vasconcelos visited the Isthmus with Diego Rivera. Edward Weston photographed the handsome Isthmus women, while Sergei Eisenstein filmed them. Frida Kahlo wore their garb and headdress and more than once painted herself against the wild, erotic backdrop of Isthmus flora and fauna, itself a trope created by Isthmus artists and intellectuals to signify their wild “otherness.” Despite this star-studded cast of visitors, local political tensions erupted in periodic rebellion until 1934, when Cárdenas pacted with Juchitecan general Heliodoro Charis, a wily cacique who championed local independence but was prepared to cut deals with Oaxacan officials. Charis came to dominate Juchitecan politics through a combination of strong-arm tactics, the provision of new social services secured from the federal government, and his affirmation and protection of local Zapotec culture.53

The Yaquis, Tzotzils, and Juchitecans each utilized official state discourses related to indigenismo, land reform, and the free municipality to foster local collective identities. This process leads to the question of how, when, and where interaction between state discourses and rural societies preserved peasant identities, and how, when, and where it transformed them. State discourses were multiple and became powerful through their implementation and practice. They included Article 27 of the Constitution of 1917 and an ensuing body of agrarian reform laws, as well as Article 123 and an evolving body of labor law. Critical as well was the Secretaría de Educación Pública’s (SEP) promotion of a popular national culture, both indigenous and folkloric; its rewriting of Mexican history to endow workers and peasants with redemptive agency; its targeting of the body for regeneration through sports, modern medicine, and hygiene; and its articulation of an emerging discourse of indigenismo that sought to modernize the “Indian” while preserving specific practices that policymakers thought useful for the modernization of Mexico. These discourses often had legal, institutional, political, symbolic, and ritualized dimensions. A major focus of cultural approaches to history is to understand how local people received, appropriated, reworked, and rejected these discourses; to sort out their emancipatory and subjugating dimensions; and to assess their impact on the formation of a new political culture and forms of citizenship.

Florencia Mallon has argued that certain discourses of the revolutionary state (for example, those on land reform and the “municipio libre,” or local self-government) resonated in peasant society because they drew from a popular liberal political culture forged around historic peasant interests during the civil wars of the nineteenth century.54 Alan Knight and others have argued that popular mobilization and interests shaped and then radicalized state projects.55 Between 1915 and 1937, agrarian reform laws became increasingly radical and inclusive. And after 1930 educational policy was also radicalized in an effort to redistribute power and resources in rural areas, in large part to counteract Catholic disaffection with the revolutionary state. In the 1930s the SEP democratized its representation of Mexican history and national culture. Yet state discourses were never simple reproductions of popular practices and discourses. Policymakers reshaped these to conform to the state’s goals in consolidating power and advancing modernity within a framework of global competition and particular forms of technical knowledge. Disdain for rural, popular knowledge and practices pervaded the formulation and implementation of state discourses. The ejido as a form of land redistribution was designed to promote state tutelage and particular forms of “modern” and “rational” association, production, and commercialization. Similarly, when the SEP and the PNR inducted Emiliano Zapata into a national iconography of patriot heroes in the 1930s, they sanitized him, cured him of his womanizing, gambling, and drinking habits, wrenched him from the company of his cuates (pals), and deprived him of the protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Sheered of his cultural—and political—context, Zapata shone forth alone as an icon of the state’s commitment to the peasantry.56

When state packaging met local practice, serious negotiation ensued. As Alonso and Nugent eloquently document in their description of agrarian reform in Namiquipa, the Namiquipans resolved to practice ancestral forms of land tenure and use. In her essay in Everyday Forms of State Formation, Elsie Rockwell argues that in these national/local encounters, the incapacity of the state facilitated the persistence of community practices. In the case of state-sponsored education in Tlaxcala, the central and state governments had a program for the schools and could provide teachers, but the building, equipping, and maintenance of the schoolhouse and the feeding and housing of the teacher depended upon villagers. The incapacity of the state allowed Tlaxcalan villagers to colonize a governmental institution with their own social practices and routines—forms of school governance, fund-raising, consensus formation, uses of school facilities, and attendance patterns. However, the school also began to transform local identities, practices, and routines as teachers channeled village demands for literacy, jobs, mobility, land, and services through new state programs.57

In the region of Tecamachalco in central Puebla, the state’s school project had little resonance until teachers met agraristas through the familiar form of collective ritual, the community fiesta. Historically, the fiesta functioned to confirm power and identity within and between villages. It became an important vehicle for agraristas to affirm their emergence as a social group, the more so as the fiesta came to center on basketball, a new cultural practice at which agraristas excelled. Teachers promoted male team sports to counter alcoholism and foster productivist notions of bodily discipline. Villagers took to sports because they celebrated peasant values of male physical prowess, competition, and solidarity.58 Thus, as Claudio Lomnitz notes, the state expanded through its capacity to tap into local culture and politics. At the same time, local culture and politics constrained state projects.59

This dynamic of state expansion and local constraint rested on a politics of popular complicity through qualified acceptance and ongoing negotiation. Within this context, new rural identities, interests, and practices were forged and new political cultures took shape. Peasants seriously appropriated and acted out agrarian law. They became agraristas, joined comités agrarios and comisariados ejidales, forged novel patterns of economic behavior out of old practices such as cooperativism, and marshaled new state and private resources in new organizational forms, such as the CNC, the CTM (Confederación de Trabajadores de México), and the Banco Ejidal. Agrarian reform law transformed not only the identities and practices of land reform recipients but also that of those around them. With the agrarian discourse emerged the concurrent practices of claim-making based on the authority of written law and on byzantine chicanery designed to subvert and elude it. Hacendados, along with their urban professional sons and housewife daughters, became pequeños propietarios. Railroad workers, artisans, and migrants returning from the United States became agraristas and ejidatarios.

The incapacity of the state encouraged practices outside the bounds of rational, bureaucratic legality. The central government articulated radical discourses it could not implement. It lacked loyal, competent, technical bureaucracies and resources. Within the state—as well as outside it—powerful interests opposed redistributive programs and compromised state will at every level of government. To build its bureaucracies and to implement its programs, the central government depended largely upon clientelism, political mobilization, and violence. State weakness increased and shaped peasant participation, not along formal democratic lines, but through practices of caciquismo, patronage, corruption, electoral manipulation, violence, and protest. The incompleteness of the state’s programs and its privileging of personal, clientelist power fueled peasants’ ongoing use of state-promoted discourses of social justice, democracy, and popular redemption to register grievances, stake claims, and bargain for resources and inclusion.

State discourses were often introduced, taught, and practiced through symbolic ritual, another working category that is receiving much attention from scholars. Ritual performance was one of the political forms drawn from the deep well-spring of Mexican popular culture. In his Man-Gods in the Mexican Highlands, Serge Gruzinski notes that power, knowledge, and social relations were cemented in prehispanic central Mexican society through collective ritual that integrated a multiplicity of aesthetic expressions, including music, color, dance, theater, and oratory.60 The genius of the Beezley, Martin, and French collection, Rituals of Rule, Rituals of Protest, is its ability to capture the Spanish colonizers’ appropriation of ritual as a mode of rule and to trace its evolution well into the twentieth century. A number of scholars are currently trying to understand how the revolutionary state seized upon multimedia collective ritual (most frequently performed on an escalating number of national holidays) to secure its rule and to create a national culture; how the symbols in state-promoted festivals were themselves appropriated from popular culture and straggle, then sanitized and repackaged for popular consumption; and how the state’s symbols were reshaped, discarded, reworked, and used at the local level. Once a discourse is public and empowered, it can be multiply deployed. As various scholars have shown, the state’s canonization of Zapata has facilitated Morelense and Oaxacan peasants’ persistent use of Zapatista iconography and local memory to press demands and make claims on the government.61 In 1994 the most challenging rural political movement to the PRI in decades took Zapata’s name and launched a rebellion from the jungles of Chiapas.

In a recent essay, Claudio Lomnitz examines ritual as a mechanism of rule and form of protest in post-1940 Mexican politics. As a mechanism of rule, he argues, ritual constructs a high level of integration with a minimal base of shared culture. It patches over differences, segmentations, and hierarchies to give the illusion of unity and inclusion in grand baroque fashion. It is a form through which those speaking different languages appear to speak one and participate in a shared idiom as they bargain for resources. But ritual has also served as a form of protest. In the absence of a functioning electoral system, political protests and grievances have often been enacted through ritualized performances in public space: sit-ins; office and building occupations; caravans of honking cars; road blocks; mass demonstrations; lock-outs; bus burnings; and, with the Zapatistas, the organization of a guerrilla army that has proven to be more effective symbolically than militarily.62

The categories of discourse and ritual tie into hegemony. Revisionist historians and political scientists have used this concept to mean domination, whether of a class or power block: its content is narrowly political. Postrevisionist cultural history seeks a more nuanced, Gramscian understanding of hegemony, one that involves some degree of consensus, contains a cultural dimension, and is sensitive to issues of time and space, in the sense of geographical regions. Hegemony so understood does not obviate the use of coercion nor does it imply the citizenry’s acceptance of every aspect of the state’s cultural project. As Florencia Mallon notes, “the leaders of a particular movement or coalition achieve hegemony as an end point only when they effectively garner for themselves ongoing legitimacy and support. They are successful in doing so if they partially incorporate the political aspirations or discourses of the movement’s supporters. . . . Only then can they rule through a combination of coercion and consent.” Mallon argues that the state that emerged from the Mexican Revolution achieved hegemony because it partially incorporated popular aspirations and discourses.63

For Mallon, hegemony is also an ongoing process: it is constantly being negotiated at local, regional, and national levels. As these political arenas interact, they redefine one another and the balance of forces within them.64 In his essay in Everyday Forms of State Formation, William Roseberry takes up the notion of hegemony as ongoing, multilayered, geographically divergent, and conflictive. He argues that the term should be understood as a “problematic, contested, political process of domination and struggle” through which a language is constructed for expressing both acceptance and discontent. It is, in other words, a “common framework for living in, discussing, and acting upon social orders characterized by domination.” Contention and struggle between ruling and dominated groups take place within “a field of force” that connects both groups in organic relations.65

While Roseberry is hesitant to assert that such a field of force and common language emerged from the Mexican Revolution, I argue that they were forged in the 1930s. After examining the implementation of socialist education in four rural societies in northern and central Mexico during that decade, I concluded that the state’s cultural revolution was not the successful imposition of its modernization program but the local-level negotiation of this program within the context of dynamic power relations. These negotiations were part of a reconstruction of local communities within a reorganization of regional political, economic, and sociocultural relations. As the school became an arena for intense, often violent negotiations over power, culture, knowledge, and rights, rural communities affirmed local identities and cultural practices. For its part, the central state succeeded in nurturing an inclusive, multiethnic, populist nationalism and in creating a legal apparatus, political associations, and institutions (e.g. the CNC, SEP, Banco Ejidal, and CTM) that would ensure the subordination of the peasantry while allowing it to process claims and articulate its needs and interests.

In the four societies I examined, the following concepts were central to a language for registering dissent and consent:1) the rights of collective groups to social justice; 2) the rights of groups and individuals to inclusion in the modernist project; and 3) the membership of groups and individuals in a multicultural, multiethnic society. Each of these was locally understood. For example, for agrarista campesinos in central Puebla, the notion of collective rights recalled the rights of peasant villages to subsistence in an ancient moral economy once dominated by landlords and kings but refashioned through the revolutionary experience to mean the rights of modern citizens. These were engraved in the Mexican Constitution, which was understood as having emanated from popular struggle. The Yaquis understood the Constitution of 1917 in a similar way. However, for them collective rights meant rights to ethnic autonomy, “ancient” rights defended through prolonged war and recuperated through revolutionary struggle. Both the Tecamachalqueños and the Yaquis insisted that the government had an obligation to honor their respective rights.66

Although their concerns are distinct, Jeffrey Rubin and Claudio Lomnitz have also used the concept of hegemony to explain the political configuration that emerged from the Mexican revolutionary process.67 Lomnitz critiques synthetic analyses that posit a single Mexican culture; Rubin challenges corporatist approaches to Mexican politics. However, their treatment of hegemony shares common elements. They reject notions of centralized power and a homogeneous national culture. They emphasize the importance of regional and local political formations that took shape between 1910 and 1940 and afterward mediated the impact of central state directives, institutions, agencies, and political associations, as well as the pace of economic growth. Both scholars emphasize the cultural aspects of politics: its discursive and symbolic dimensions and relationship to daily life.

In his analysis of the state of Morelos, which underwent an agrarian revolution, Lomnitz emphasizes the persistent discourse of Zapatismo through which rural villagers, regional elites, and national political organizations negotiated their interests. In his treatment of the Huasteca Potosina, a region that did not experience a transformation in property or power relations during the revolution, Lomnitz describes a ranchero culture that takes pride in masculine skills of horsemanship and drinking, along with the conquest of nature, Indians, and women. This culture (manifested in the socializing sites of markets, cockfights, horse races, fairs, weddings, and political rallies) is the idiom that binds the geographically dispersed ruling group of rancheros and secures their domination over subordinate cowhands. Through this shared discourse, rancheros and cowhands alike marginalize, disdain, and exploit Nahua and Huasteco villagers. Lomnitz attributes the sustained success of this discourse in large part to the activities of General Gonzalo Santos, the cacique who ruled the region from the 1930s to 1959, isolating it from the impact of industrialization and agrarian reform. Lomnitz sees Santos as having melded nineteenth-century popular liberalism, understood as a defense of individualism and local autonomy, into a swaggering, gun-toting, cowboy machismo. It was this machista image that Santos used in negotiation with the central government, warding off interventions and obtaining favors for his region. He also used it and paternalism to maintain social cohesion in the Huasteca. Thus through compadrazgo he established ritual kinship ties to practically everyone in the Huasteca; and by providing Indian communities with some land and services he forged a series of patron-client relations that helped ensure their loyalty. In addition, by drawing from indigenous and mestizo cultures, he constructed his persona as a living pact with the devil. He used the pact to explain—indeed, to revel in—his crimes. He gave his enemies three options: “Encierro, destierro, o entierro” (Jail, exile, or burial).68

Rubin pins his own analysis of postrevolutionary PRI/state hegemony on the activities of such cacicazgos. For him the key issue was the formation of distinct regional pacts that during the Cárdenas presidency reinforced the power of the center. Generalizing from the experience of Juchitán and comparing it with those of several other regions, he argues that these regional pacts often took the form of cacicazgos, or personal dynasties, that although paternalistic and authoritarian, sheltered local cultural forms by mediating the impact of federal directives and market forces. Rubin argues that the collapse of these pacts around 1960 combined with geographically differentiated processes of socioeconomic change to produce regionally distinct political movements that challenged PRI/state hegemonic equilibrium.69

Lomnitz’s evidence supports Rubin’s contention for San Luis Potosí, but not for Morelos, where institutional and associational mechanisms and the discourses that animate them have been more important than regional caciques to politics. Neither Rubin’s nor Lomnitz’s studies are specifically historical. Rather, they marshal historical materials to explain the present—for Rubin, the emergence of the Coalición Obrera, Campesina, Estudiantil del Istmo, an opposition political movement, in Juchitán; and for Lomnitz, cultural production in regional space in the 1980s. Similarly, neither Mallon’s nor my assertions about hegemony in post-1940 Mexico are grounded in empirical research in the period for which we allege this hegemony functioned.

Thus what we need is an ethnographic history of the post-1940 PRI state that is focused on the subject—the citizen—and based upon local studies in comparative perspective. We must supplement the very useful studies of caciques, dominant classes, and political brokers that typify post-1940 regional and local history with research that documents how particular state routines, practices, moral prescriptions, laws, and developmentalist and infrastructural projects have impacted, and been mediated by, the cultural behaviors of rural Mexicans. We need to assess these processes within the context of rapid economic modernization, with its attendant impact on social differentiation, class formation, demographic explosion and migratory movements. Such an analysis would deconstruct the state as it operated at local, regional, and national levels, within heterogeneous and often competing agencies, ministries, and elected bodies in the context of changing policies, personnel, and resources. It would necessarily examine the party apparatus and popular and civic organizations. It would query how the PRI/state simultaneously fostered and deformed civil society; that is, how it created the conditions for the emergence of civil society while at the same time attempting to control its associations. It would ask how laws and state prescriptions have been embraced and averted. It would inquire into the role of violence and corruption in political life. It would consider the impact of an expanding educational system and a proliferating mass print, electronic, and performance media on citizen formation. It would not neglect the church as it sallied forth after 1940 with yet another spiritual reconquest—this time cast in the rhetoric of the Cold War—only to find itself divided by Vatican II in the 1960s, then threatened by the brushfires of evangelical Protestantism in the 1980s.

Such an analysis would be gendered. The Mexican Revolution and the process of postrevolutionary state formation reaffirmed a male monopoly of politics, violence, land, and other economic resources. Land reform promised to shore up patriarchy based upon the family as a productive unit and the comisariado ejidal and CNC as male reserves. In the 1920s federal and state governments made an effort to bring rural women into civic life through patriotic domesticity. Through schools, pamphlets, lectures, and organizations, they introduced these women to “modern” notions of health, hygiene, medicine, household organization, and child development and attempted to engage them in crusades for community hygiene and public works or in the formation of cooperatives for domestically produced goods. These efforts were not particularly successful. They seemed to work only in those rare instances when there was a convergence between state and local cultures, an abundance of resources, and a minimum of violence. Fears about the religiosity of women deterred the national congress from granting them the right to vote in national elections until 1953. But a glacial shift in post-1940 society has gradually empowered women and youth at the expense of older men. In rural areas this shift has been linked to the economic decline of peasant agriculture and to the diversification of economic activities in the countryside and elsewhere. It has also been linked to the demographic explosion; to changing state policies of education, health, and development; and to the proliferation of the mass media.70 But it still remains to be determined how the social empowerment of women and youth has affected the exercise of citizenship and the formation of state subjects over time.

Finally, an ethnographic history of the state must be transnational in dimension. It must consider not only the transnational opportunities and constraints that shape national policies in Mexico, but the ways in which the presence or absence of transnational capital has reshaped regional sociopolitical configurations. It should look at the ways in which transnational migrations and media have altered cultural, political, and economic behavior in rural communities and how transnational popular culture, articulated through electronic, print, and sound media, have become part of daily life throughout Mexico. Helpful in this respect will be the forthcoming volume edited by Eric Zolov, Anne Rubinstein, and Gilbert Joseph on the post-1940 impact of transnational processes on such aspects of Mexican popular culture as tourism, film, television, comic books, and sports.71

Methodology and Sources

In closing I want to say something about methodology. The methods and concepts of cultural historians have been subjected to critique by social science historians, such as Stephen Haber, who argue that their sources and methods (and not those of cultural historians) can produce objective, scientifically verifiable history—as if statistics were not contingent upon the biases of those who construct categories of analysis, upon the diligence and preferences of those who collect them, and upon the mathematical models of those who manipulate them.72 The crux of the argument against cultural history as it is being practiced by some Mexicanists seems to rest on what is alleged to be the paucity of an evidentiary base for a meaningful examination of the lives and activities of those who did not command and dominate the written record. Eric Van Young, along with Allen Wells and Gilbert Joseph, have written eloquently about the issue of sources, especially in regard to the difficulty of imputing motives to peasant action.73 My argument, however, is that one can amass a strong evidentiary base for writing about rural people in twentieth-century Mexico, especially when the problem is approached as local history.

Local history is both a concept and a method.74 As a concept, it seeks to reconstruct local knowledge and action to reveal the limits of general processes, or the visions and conceptions that modify, confront, and reinterpret the external into a body of knowledge that may run counter to what is prescribed or imagined at regional, national, and international levels. At the same time, such investigation uncovers the local world as dynamic, rather than static, that is, as historical. For purposes of elaborating an ethnographic history of the state, local history should meticulously identify and analyze the interplay among state forms and practices, market forces, and social subjects. As a method, local history may be more effective than trying to read popular consciousness and culture across regions because it contextualizes meaning and action. Specificity becomes the vehicle for comparison. Carrying out a specific case study or studies in a comparative framework is the optimal methodology for constructing an ethnographic history of the state.

In doing local history, the historian operates differently from the cultural anthropologist who gathers data, interprets from the ethnographic present, and marshals historical documentation to better understand the present. As an ethnographer, the historian works more like an archaeologist, unearthing particularly valuable finds—sets of documents such as criminal proceedings, judicial records, agrarian reform expedientes, and the reports of school inspectors. For twentieth-century Mexican rural history, we are privileged to have national, regional, and municipal archives where the written record is robustly multivocal. Campesinos took the litigious, petitionary mode of Mexican political culture to frenzied heights, while state agents sought to impose their projects, categories, and routines through new languages and institutions at different levels of government.

As Natalie Davis has suggested in her Fiction in the Archives, a set of archival documents should be read in layers. The documents have to be read for an understanding of vertical power relations and the language deployed in such encounters of unequal power, and they have to be read to uncover horizontal relations and meanings, i.e., the moral codes and power networks among the dominated.75 To read in layers, historians have to be detectives, as Carlo Ginzburg suggests.76 Taking an obscure clue from a first reading of a particular kind of document (e.g. agrarian reform files), they must gather a mass of lateral evidence from other sources in order to bring sharper insight to repeated rereadings. Lateral evidence includes other sets of archival documentation from different agencies and levels of the state. For example, material in municipal archives can help to flesh out local power relations while revealing different uses of language and symbols. Census data, which is often not reliable for sophisticated statistical analysis, can be used to understand the dynamics of socioeconomic relations. The partisan local press, the penny press, and religious pamphletry can help to elucidate the language and movements of politics and culture in critical ways. In twentieth-century Mexican rural history, we are also fortunate to have access to the studies and field notes of anthropologists (such as Spicer, Redfield, Lewis), which although they subject local culture to particular interpretive paradigms nonetheless provide a wealth of information once we become sensitive to the narrative strategies of interviewers and interviewees. We have oral testimony, increasingly useful as it is subjected to layered readings through a refined methodology. We may conduct the interviews ourselves or draw upon an increasing number of collections of local testimony and memory; we also have collections of folk music, tales, dance, and retablos.77 In certain rich and rare instances, we have collections of proverbs, which for some historians reveal the peasantry’s legal code.78 As we move deeper and closer to the present, we can access comic books, newspapers, films, and radio and television programming.

Cultural historians work comparatively, reading about similar situations and cultures across space and time. To complement a mass of lateral documentation, they also move backward and forward in history. Elsie Rockwell’s ethnography of schools in contemporary Tlaxcala facilitated her highly innovative and insightful reading of the history of those schools in the 1920s and 1930s, as did her immersion in the history of Tlaxcalan schools during the Porfiriato. As cultural anthropologists, Ana María Alonso and Daniel Nugent worked in similar ways in their analyses of Namiquipa during the revolution—moving back to late viceregal times to understand a particular notion of honor linked to the terms of the community’s foundation and using contemporary discourse and oral testimony to understand the persistence of this notion and its centrality to Namiquipans’ experience of the revolution. One of the most creative examples of such up- and down-streaming is anthropologist David Frye’s Indians into Mexicans. By juxtaposing contemporary oral histories and documents from different moments in historical time, Frye shows how community identity in Mezquitic, San Luis Potosí, has shifted in interaction with changing state discourses, economic processes, and popular mobilizations.

In my judgement, more problematic than the question of an evidentiary base for doing cultural history is the current binational imbalance in research. To do this we have relied heavily on the impressive production of regional and local history done by Mexican scholars since the 1980s. We depend as well on their collections of local testimony and memory. We learn from and incorporate Mexican anthropological and sociological studies that trace historical practices of communities related to water, reproductive health, women’s work, market consumption, land use, and government, as well as those that document class formation and political domination.79 But we have yet to enter into dialogue with a definable group of Mexican historians who share these cultural approaches to the rural history of the Mexican Revolution. We need to foster such a dialogue in order to enrich this historiographic project.

For their helpful comments on this essay and suggestions for revision, I would like to thank Gilbert Joseph, Claudio Lomnitz-Adler, Florencia Mallon, Heather Fowler-Salamini, John Tutino, Cynthia Radding, Marion S. Miller, Marco Velázquez, Andrew Roth, Sergio Zendejas, and participants in seminars at El Colegio de Michoacán, the Latin American Studies Program at Yale University, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego, the History Department of the University of California, Irvine, as well as those present at the Mexican Studies Committee forum on new cultural history organized by the Conference on Latin American History, New York, January 1997.


For discussions of revisionist historiography, see Gilbert M. Joseph and Daniel Nugent, “Popular Culture and State Formation in Revolutionary Mexico,” in Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico, eds. Gilbert M. Joseph and Daniel Nugent (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1994), 6-7; and Alan Knight, “The Mexican Revolution: Bourgeois? Nationalist? Or Just a ‘Great Rebellion’?” Bulletin of Latin American Research 4, no. 2 (1985), and “Interpretaciones recientes de la Revolución Mexicana,” in Memorias del Simposio de Historiografía Mexicanista (Mexico City: Comité Mexicano de Ciencias Históricas; Gobierno del Estado de Morelos; Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1990).


For a good review and critique of this literature, see Jeffrey W. Rubin, “Decentering the Regime: Culture and Regional Politics in Mexico,” Latin American Research Review 31, no. 3 (1996).


This critique began with the publication of Arturo Warman et al., De eso que llaman antropología mexicana (Mexico City: Ed. Nuestro Tiempo, 1970). For an examination of structuralist anthropology, see Cynthia Hewitt de Alcántara, Anthropological Perspectives on Rural Mexico (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), 96-177.


These studies are too numerous to list here. In addition to key edited collections such as David A. Brading, ed., Caudillo and Peasant in the Mexican Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980); Friedrich Katz, ed., Riot, Rebellion, and Revolution: Rural Social Conflict in Mexico (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1988); and Thomas Benjamin and Mark Wasserman, eds., Provinces of the Revolution: Essays on Regional Mexican History, 1910-1929 (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1990), it is important to note how much of the primary research has been done by scholars working in Mexican regional institutions. See, among others, Ernesto Camou Healy, Rocío Guadarrama, and José Carlos Ramírez, Historia contemporánea de Sonora, 1929-1984 (Hermosillo: Gobierno del Estado de Sonora, 1988); Jesús Márquez Carillo, “Los orígenes de avilacamachismo: una arqueología de fuerzas en la constitución de un poder regional: el estado de Puebla, 1920-1941” (Lie. thesis, Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 1981); Alvaro Ochoa Serrano, Los agraristas de Atacheo (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1989); and César Moheno, Las historias y los hombres de San Juan (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1985).


For the former, see particularly James C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1976); for the latter, see his Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1985). For applications of Scott’s work to an analysis of the Mexican peasantry, see John Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico: Social Bases of Agrarian Violence, 1750-1940 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986); Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution, vol. 1: Potfirians, Liberals, and Peasants (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986); and Marjorie Becker, “Black and White and Color: Cardenismo and the Search for a Campesino Ideology,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 29 (1987).


See, for example, Arturo Warman, . . . y venimos a contradecir: los campesinos de Morelos y el estado nacional (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones Superiores del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1976); Guillermo de la Peña, Herederos de promesas: agricultura, política y ritual en los Altos de Morelos (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones Superiores del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1980); and Paul Friedrich Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village: With a New Preface and Supplementary Bibliography (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1977), and The Princes of Naranja: An Essay in Anthrohistorical Method (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1986).


Knight, “Mexican Revolution: Bourgeois? Nationalist?”; and Mexican Revolution, both vols.


Benjamin and Wasserman, Provinces of the Revolution, 9.


Florencia E. Mallon, “Reflections on the Ruins: Everyday Forms of State Formation in Nineteenth-Century Mexico,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation, 72, 101.


Joseph and Nugent, “Popular Culture and State Formation,” 4-5, 12.


For historiographical essays on the Subaltern Studies Project, see Florencia E. Mallon, “The Promise and Dilemma of Subaltern Studies: Perspectives from Latin American History,” American Historical Review 99 (1994); Cyan Prakash, “Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism,” American Historical Review 99 (1994); and Rosalind O’Hanlon, “Recovering the Subject: Subaltern Studies and Histories of Resistance in Colonial South Asia,” Modern Asian Studies 22 (1988). For elucidation on cultural studies perspectives on popular culture, see Joseph and Nugent, “Popular Culture and State Formation,” 15-18.


Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer, The Great Arch: English State Formation as Cultural Revolution (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985).


On the evolution of historical studies in France away from Marxism and the Annales school’s longue durée and toward representation, see Antoine Prost, “What Has Happened to French Social History?” The Historical Journal 35 (1992). For an introduction to the new cultural history, see Lynn Hunt, ed., The New Cultural History: Essays (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1989). On microhistory, see Carlo Ginzburg, “Microhistory: Two or Three Things that I Know About It,” trans. John and Anne C. Tedeschi, Critical Inquiry 1 (1993).


Elsie Rockwell, “Hacer escuela: transformaciones de la cultura escolar, Tlaxcala, 1910-1940” (PhD. diss., Departamento de Investigaciones Educativas, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados del Instituo Politécnico Nacional, 1997), 7.


Luis González y González, Pueblo en vilo (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1968).


For a thought-provoking inquiry into the dangers of “experience” obscuring “structure,” see Emilia Viotti da Costa, “Experience versus Structures: New Tendencies in the History of Labor and the Working Class in Latin America—What Do We Gain? What Do We Lose?” International Labor and Working Class History 36 (1989).


Alan Knight, “Weapons and Arches,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation, 25.


On the geography of conquest, see Sherbourne F. Cook and Lesley Byrd Simpson, The Population of Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1948); Carl O. Sauer, Colima of New Spain in the Sixteenth Century (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1948); Robert C. West, The Mining Community in Northern New Spain: The Parral Mining District (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1949); Lesley Byrd Simpson, Exploitation of Latid in Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1952); and Peter Gerhard, A Guide to the Historical Geography of New Spain, rev. ed. (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1993). For recent work on different perceptions and occupations of space on the part of Spanish colonizers and native societies, see Bernardo García Martínez, Los pueblos de la sierra: el poder y el espacio entre los indios del norte de Puebla hasta 1700 (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, 1987); James Lockhart, The Nahuas after the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1992); Eric Van Young, “Dreamscapes with Figures and Fences: Cultural Contention and Discourse in the Late Colonial Mexican Countryside,” in Le Nouveau Monde—mondes nouveaux: l’expérience amércaine, eds. Serge Gruzinski and Nathan Wachtel (Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations; Editions de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 1996); Elinor G. K. Melville, A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994); Walter D. Mignolo, The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Temtoriality, and Colonization (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1995); and Cynthia Radding, Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700-1850 (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1997). For classic treatments, see Charles Gibson, The Aztecs under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1964); and William B. Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1979). On urban space, see Alejandra Moreno Toscano, ed., Ciudad de Mexico: ensayo de construcción de una historia (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1978); Susan Deans-Smith, Bureaucrats, Planters, and Workers: The Making of the Tobacco Monopoly in Bourbon Mexico (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1992); and R. Douglas Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1994).


Friedrich Katz, “Labor Conditions on Haciendas in Porfirian Mexico: Some Trends and Tendencies,” HAHR 54 (1974). On spatial mapping of workers in relation to land and production, see, for example, Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution; Herbert J. Nickel, Morfología social de la hacienda mexicana (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1988); Heather Fowler-Salamini, “Gender, Work, and Coffee in Córdoba, Veracruz, 1850-1910,” in Women of the Mexican Countryside, 1850-1990: Creating Spaces, Shaping Transitions, eds. Heather Fowler-Salamini and Mary Kay Vaughan (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1994); and William K. Meyers, Forge of Progress, Crucible of Revolt: Origins of the Mexican Revolution in La Comarca Lagunera, 1880-1911 (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1994).


On these divisions, see, among others, Raymond Th. J. Buve, “Tlaxcala: Consolidating a Cacicazgo,” in Benjamin and Wasserman, Provinces of the Revolution; Paul Garner, “Oaxaca: The Rise and Fall of State Sovereignty,” in ibid., 166; Allen Wells and Gilbert M. Joseph, Summer of Discontent, Seasons of Upheaval: Elite Politics and Rural Insurgency in Yucatán, 1856-1915 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1996), 288-92; and Knight, Mexican Revolution, 1:333-87, who argues that nonetheless, the cumulative effect of campesino movements produced an agrarian revolution


See Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London: Verso, 1989), 118-37; and Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985), 89-91.


Claudio Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from the Labyrinth: Culture and Ideology in the Mexican National Space (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1992), 29, 112, 115.


David L. Frye, Indians into Mexicans: History and Identity in a Mexican Town (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1996), 172-86. On treasure and politics in rural Mexico, see James B. Greenberg, “Capital, Ritual, and Boundaries of the Closed Corporate Community,” in Articulating Hidden Histories, Exploring the Influence of Eric R. Wolf, eds. Jane Schneider and Rayna Rapp (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1995), 67-81; Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from the Labyrinth, 53-54; and Andrew Roth Seneff, “Región y cultura popular: notas sobre moralidad, intereses y la objetivación de ‘comunidad’ en la zona interétnica del norte central de Michoacán,” Relaciones: Estudios de la Historia y Sociedad 18, no. 72 (1997), who explores the concept of treasure in peasant culture with reference to Pedro Carrasco, El catolicismo popular de los tarascos (Mexico City: Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1976) and George Foster (assisted by Gabriel Ospina), Empire’s Children: The People of Tzintzuntzan (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1948).


Elsie Rockwell, “Schools of the Revolution: Enacting and Contesting State Forms in Tlaxcala, 1910-1930,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation, 188.


Jan Rus, “The ‘Comunidad Revolucionaria Institucional’: The Subversion of Native Government in Highland Chiapas, 1936-1968,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation, 270-71.


Mary Kay Vaughan, Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930-1940 (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1997), 90.


Marjorie Becker, “Torching La Purísima, Dancing at the Altar: The Construction of Revolutionary Hegemony in Michoacán, 1934-1940,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation, and Setting the Virgin on Fire: Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán Peasants, and the Redemption of the Mexican Revolution (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1995), 77-101, 129-31; and Adrian Bantjes, “Burning Saints, Molding Minds: Iconoclasm, Civic Ritual, and the Failed Cultural Revolution,” in Rituals of Rule, Rituals of Resistance: Public Celebrations and Popular Culture in Mexico, eds. William H. Beezley, Cheryl English Martin, and William E. French (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1994), and As If Jesus Walked on Earth: Cardenismo, Sonora, and the Mexican Revolution (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1998), 23-55.


Becker, “Black and White and Color”; and Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from, the Labyrinth, 125.


Bantjes, As If Jesus Walked, 32-36.


Becker, “Torching La Purísima,” 262-63.


Wells and Joseph, Summer of Discontent., 213, 217, 234-39, 287-89.


Vaughan, Cultural Politics in Revolution, 77-105.


Definitions of identity vary according to author and discipline. I have tried here to give a generic definition derived from different disciplines and theoretical positions. For a cultural studies approach, see Stuart Hall, “The Question of Cultural Identity,” in Modernity: An Introduction to Modern Societies, eds. Stuart Hall et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 595-634; for a structuralist/spatial approach, see Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 159-97; for an anthropological approach, see John and Jean Comaroff, Ethnography and the Historical Imagination (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992), 52-67; for identity and gender, see Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1988), 40-48; for identity in new social movements theory, see Jean Cohen, “Strategy and Identity: New Theoretical Paradigms and Contemporary Social Movements,” Social Research 52 (1985); Orin Starn, “I Dream of Foxes and Hawks: Reflections on Peasant Protest, New Social Movements, and Rondas Campesinas of Northern Peru,” in The Making of Social Movements in Latin America: Identity, Strategy, and Democracy, eds. Arturo Escobar and Sonia E. Alvarez (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992); and Ronald Munck, “Identity and Ambiguity in Democratic Struggles in Popular Movements and Social Change in Mexico,” in Popular Movements and Political Change in Mexico, eds. Joe Foweraker and Ann L. Craig (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1990).


For a succinct definition of discourse, see Hall et al., Modernity, 205.


Ana María Alonso and Daniel Nugent, “Multiple Selective Traditions in Agrarian Reform and Agrarian Struggle: Popular Culture and State Formation in the Ejido of Namiquipa, Chihuahua,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation; Ana Maria Alonso, Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico’s Northern Frontier (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1995), 176-211; and Daniel Nugent, Spent Cartridges of Revolution: An Anthropological History of Namiquipa, Chihuahua (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993), 41-121.


William E. French, A Peaceful and Working People: Manners, Morals, and Class Formation in Northern Mexico (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1996), 109-39.


Ibid., 141-72, 173-80.


Knight, Mexican Revolution, 2:520-22.


Christopher R. Boyer, “Old Loves, New Loyalties: Agrarismo in Michoacán, 1920-1928,” HAHR 78 (1998).


Friedrich, Princes of Naranja; 1-74.


Jennie Purnell, Popular Movements and State Formation in Revolutionary Mexico: The Agraristas and Cristeros of Michoacan (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, forthcoming). Purnell acknowledges her debt to the following works: González, Pueblo en vilo; Friedrich, Agrarian Revolt, and Princes of Naranja-, Jaime Espín Díaz, Tierra fría, tierra de conflictos en Michoacán (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacan, 1986); Moheno, Las historias y los hombres; Rosa Pla, “Leyendas y tradición oral en San Juan Parangaricutiro: pueblo nuevo,” in Estudios Michoacanos, vol. 3, ed. Sergio Zendejas (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacan, 1989); and Carrasco, Catolicismo popular de los tarascos.


Purnell, Popular Movements, 17.


Ibid., 181.


Ibid., 9-10.


See, for example, Becker, Setting the Virgin on Fire; Moheno, Las historias y los hombres; Roth Seneff, “Región y cultura popular”; and Espín Díaz, “Tierra fría.”


Ben Fallaw, “Cárdenas and the Caste War that Wasn’t: State Power and Indigenismo in Post-Revolutionary Yucatán,” The Americas 53 (1997).


Becker, “Black and White and Color.”


Vaughan, Cultural Politics in Revolution, 137-62. These sources included the indispensable field notes and published articles of Edward Spicer that form part of the Edward Spicer Papers housed in the Arizona State Museum Archives, as well as his The Yaquis: A Cultural History (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1980). Important published sources included Alfonso Fábila, Las tribus Yaquis de Sonora: su cultura y anhelada autodeterminación (Mexico City: Departamento de Asuntos Indígenas, 1940); Claudio Dabdoub, Historia de el Valle del Yaqui (Mexico City: Librería M. Porrúa, 1964); and Jane Holden Kelly, Yaqui Women: Contemporary Life Histories (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1978). Unpublished and archival material includes “Yaqui Life Histories,” a manuscript in the William Willard Papers of the Arizona State Museum Archives; as well as documents found in Acervos Presidentes of the Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico; in the Archivo de la Defensa Nacional; and in the Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de Educación Pública. Additional material was obtained through oral interviews that I conducted in Sonora.


Rus, “‘Comunidad Revolucionaria Institucional,’” 271-85. Rus acknowledges his debt to Thomas Benjamin, A Rich Land, A Poor People: Politics and Society in Modern Chiapas (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1989).


Howard Campbell, Zapotec Renaissance: Ethnic Politics and Cultural Revivalism in Southern Mexico (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1994), 32, 38-50; and Jeffrey W. Rubin, Decentering the Regime: Ethnicity, Radicalism, and Democracy in Juchitán, Mexico (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1997), 28-34. Both authors draw upon, among others, Victor de la Cruz, “Rebeliones indígenas en el Istmo de Tehuantepec,” Cuadernos Políticos 38 (1983): 64; Leticia Reina, “Los pueblos indios del Istmo de Tehuantepec: readecuación económica y mercado regional,” in Indio, nación y comunidad en el México del siglo XIX, ed. Arturo Escobar Ohmstede (Mexico City: Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos), 137-51, 140-46; and John Tutino, “Indian Rebellion at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec: A Socio-Historical Perspective,” Proceedings of the 42nd International Congress of Americanists 7, no. 3 (1978), and “Ethnic Resistance: Juchitán in Mexican History, in Zapotec Struggles: Histories, Politics, and Representations from Juchitán, Oaxaca, eds. Howard Campbell et al. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).


Campbell, Zapotec Renaissance, 53; and Francie Chassen López, “Oaxaca: del Porfiriato a la Revolución, 1902-1911” (Ph.D. diss., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1986), 272.


Campbell, Zapotec Renaissance, 28-29, 32, 50, 55.


Ibid., 76-81, 119-35; and Rubin, Decentering the Regime, 38-41, 45-63.


Mallon, “Reflections on the Ruins,” 101.


See, for example, Knight, “Mexican Revolution: Bourgeois? Nationalist?” 15-27.


See Ilene O’Malley, The Myth of the Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), passim; Vaughan, Cultural Politics in Revolution, 42; and Samuel Brunk, “Remembering Emiliano Zapata: Three Moments in the Posthumous Career of the Martyr of Chinameca,” HAHR 78 (1998).


Rockwell, “Schools of the Revolution,” 181-208.


Mary Kay Vaughan, “The Construction of the Patriotic Festival in Tecamachalco, Puebla, 1900-1946,” in Beezley, Martin, and French, Rituals of Rule, 221-30.


Claudio Lomnitz-Adler, “Ritual, Rumor, and Corruption in the Constitution of Polity in Modern Mexico,” Journal of Latin American Anthropology 1 (1995).


Serge Gruzinski, Man-Gods in the Mexican Highlands: Indian Power and Colonial Society, 1520-1800, trans. Eileen Corrigan (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1989), 31-62.


JoAnn Martin, “Contesting Authenticity: Battles over the Representation of History in Morelos, Mexico,” Ethnohistory 40 (1993); Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from the Labyrinth, 29-37; Florencia E. Mallon, “Local Intellectuals, Regional Mythologies, and the Mexican State, 1850-1994,” Polygraph 10 (1998); and Lynn Stephen, “Pro-Zapatista and Pro-PRI: Resolving the Contradictions of Zapatismo in Rural Oaxaca,” Latin American Research Review 32, no. 2 (1997).


Lomnitz-Adler, “Ritual, Rumor,” 20-47.


Mallon, “Reflections on the Ruins,” 70-71, 105.


Ibid., 70-71.


William Roseberry, “Hegemony and the Language of Contention,” in Joseph and Nugent, Everyday Forms of State Formation, 358, 361, 364-66.


Vaughan, Cultural Politics in Revolution, 189-201.


For definitions and applications of the concept of hegemony, see Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from the Labyrinth, 27-32, 56-82; as well as Rubin, “Decentering the Regime,” 86-95, and Decentering the Regime, 11-23, 42-45, 238-64.


On Morelos and the Huasteca Potosina, see Lomnitz-Adler, Exits from the Labyrinth, 56-82, 155-201.


Rubin, “Decentering the Regime,” 103-21, and Decentering the Regime, 238-76.


On efforts to analyze these processes historically, see Heather Fowler-Salamini and Mary Kay Vaughan, introduction to Women of the Mexican Countryside; as well as the following articles in the same volume: Patricia Arias, “Three Microhistories of Women’s Work in Rural Mexico”; Soledad González Montes, “Intergenerational and Gender Relations in the Transition from a Peasant to a Diversified Economy”; Gail Mummert, “From Metate to Despate: Rural Mexican Women’s Salaried Labor and the Redefinition of Gendered Spaces and Roles”; and María da Gloria Marroni de Velázquez, “Changes in Rural Society and Domestic Labor in Atlixco, Puebla, 1940-1990.” On women and politics, see, among others in a rapidly expanding literature, JoAnn Martin, “Antagonisms of Gender and Class in Morelos,” also in Fowler-Salamini and Vaughan, Women of the Mexican Countryside, and “Motherhood and Power: The Production of a Woman’s Culture of Politics in a Mexican Community,” American Ethnologist 17 (1990); Lynn Stephen, Zapotec Women (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1991); and Allison Greene, “Cablevision(nation) in Rural Yucatán: Performing Modernity and Mexicanidad, 1992-95,” in Representing Mexico: Transnationalism and the Politics of Culture since the Revolution, eds. Eric Zolov, Anne Rubenstein, and Gilbert M. Joseph (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, forthcoming).


Zolov, Rubenstein, and Joseph, Representing Mexico.


Stephen H. Haber, “The Worst of Both Worlds: The New Cultural History of Mexico,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 13 (1997).


Eric Van Young, “To See Someone Not Seeing: Historical Studies of Peasants and Politics in Mexico,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 6 (1990), and “The Cuautla Lazarus: Double Subjectives in Reading Texts on Popular Collective Action,” Colonial Latin American Review 2 (1993); and Wells and Joseph, Summer of Discontent, 9-17.


See Ginzburg, “Microhistory.”


Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1987), 7-35. For a good example of layered readings in current Mexican historiography, see David Frye’s analysis of colonial documents in Indians into Mexicans, 70-88.


Carlo Ginzburg, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, trans. John and Anne C. Tedeschi (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992), 96-125.


For local testimony and memory see, among the many, Pla, “Leyendas y tradición oral”; Moheno, Las historias y los hombres-, Salvador Sotelo Arévalo, Historia de mi vida: autobiografía y memorias de un maestro rural en México, 1904-1965, presentation by Martín Sánchez and Adonaí Sotelo (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de la Revolución Mexicana, 1996); Mayo Murrieta and María Eugenia Graf, Por el milagro de aferrarse: tierra y vecindad en el Valle del Yaqui (Hermosillo: El Colegio de Sonora; Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora; Instituto Sonorense de Cultura, 1992); and Soledad González Montes and Alejandro Patiño Díaz, Memoria campesina: la historia de Xalatlaco contada por su gente (Toluca: Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura, 1994). For folk music, tales, dance, and retablos, see, for example, Carrasco, Catolicismo popular de los Tarascos; Catherine Heau, “Trova popular y identidad cultural en Morelos,” in Morelos: cinco siglos de historia regional, ed. Horacio Crespo (Mexico City: Centro de Estudios Históricos del Agrarismo en Mexico, 1984); Jorge Durand and Douglas S. Massey, Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1995); and Arturo Chamorro, ed., Sabiduría popular: memorias de la primera mesa redonda de folklore y etnomusicología (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1983).


Herón Pérez Martínez, Por el refranero mexicano (Monterrey: Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, 1988), and El hablar lapidario: ensayo de paremiología mexicana (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1996).


For example, in addition to those noted in the citations, see also Patricia Avila García, Escasez de agua en una región indígena: el caso de la meseta purépecha (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1996); Guillermo de la Peña, “Poder local, poder regional: perspectivas socioantropológicas,” in Poder local, poder regional, eds. Jorge Padua and Alain Vanneph (México City: El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Sociológicos, 1986), and “Populism, Regional Power, and Political Mediation: Southern Jalisco, 1900-1980,” in Mexico’s Regions: Comparative History and Development, ed. Eric Van Young (San Diego: Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1992); and María Teresa Sierra, Discurso, cultura y poder: el ejercicio de la autoridad en los pueblos hñähñús del Valle del Mezquital (México City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 1992).