The Mexican Nation: Historical Continuity and Modern Change

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9780130922274: The Mexican Nation: Historical Continuity and Modern Change

The Continuity of Mexican History is an expansive presentation of the Mexican past within a basic chronological narrative. A straight forward, jargon-free compilation the book traces the nation's history from it indigenous roots through the 21st century and provides up-to-date information on the latest scholarly trends and findings. Written within a social and cultural context, this volume addresses race, religion and ethnicity, as well as economic analysis, artistic trends, women's issues and Mexico's relations with the world. The volume covers all aspects of Mexico's history including Mexico's indigenous roots, the Spanish invasion, Hispanic foundations, independence from Spain, the early Republic, war with the United States, Civil War and French intervention, the Era of Porfirio Díaz, industrialization and political Stability, migration and social change and stagnation and revival. For historians and those interested in Mexican history.

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From the Back Cover:

The Mexican Nation is a readable, straightforward, and down-to-earth narrative of Mexican history from its earliest origins to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Utilizing a chronological organization, this book emphasizes how the concepts of region, religion, and ethnicity have shaped the development of Mexico. The author shows how regional complexities are vital in understanding the Mexican past. A discussion on the Aztec and Maya religions, as well as emphasis on the Catholic church, provides important clues to the multi-cultural dimension of the country. A discussion on the intermingling of indigenous people with Europeans and Africans demonstrates Mexico's unique social blending.

The Mexican Nation also offers new interpretations of Mexican leaders who have been misunderstood. Consistent themes and conclusions emerge from the author's research. Mexican history is also analyzed from the perspective of international relations. Experimentation with indigenous, European, and U.S. political models is also examined. The economic analysis of this book enables readers to understand how Mexico has attempted free trade strategies and how the country has responded to U.S. and European pressures.

Key features are:
  • Up-to-date scholarship
  • Extended discussions of women
  • Cultural patterns
  • Jargon-free writing style
  • Economic and financial overviews
  • Artistic and intellectual trends
  • Recent U.S. migration patterns

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Three basic factors stimulated the formation of a Mexican nation. The interaction of regional, religious, and ethnic elements and their relation to economic as well as international forces both reveal and clarify the continuity of Mexican history. Continuity slowed and shaped these factors, but they remained constant features of the Mexican past. Scholars have begun to interpret continuity in the context of historical themes. Recent studies, for example, emphasize greater continuity in economic history. The 1910 revolution interrupted the development of the Mexican economy more than changing its essential nature. The theme of continuity in modern Mexican intellectual history has become entrenched since 1985.

This book emphasizes how some leaders have succeeded and others failed. Rulers who interpreted the needs of regions, religion, and ethnicity and responded to them within a nationalistic criteria by the eighteenth century usually did well. Nationalism can be defined simply as the urge of every society to live according to its traditional customs and to be governed responsibly. The most successful nationalist leaders were the statesmen who harmonized religious, regional, and ethnic sensitivities while molding Mexico into a connected body as much as possible.

Until the nineteenth century, political leaders represented their regions, and scholars of Mexico have noted the power of regional identities in shaping Mexican history. The dominant trends, particular in the early periods, have moved through regional variants. Gradually, modern Mexico found itself locked in a struggle between provincial elites and groups in Mexico City attempting to displace established regional structures. Cultural, economic, and political trends complicated the process, but geography also imposed a tremendous burden upon Mexico. High mountain ranges and the lack of navigable rivers made it difficult to link various regions. These two physical obstacles increased regional transportation expenses, consequently raising labor costs and lowering productivity, and ultimately, impeding national integration.

An appreciation of the significance of religion is essential to understanding Mexican history. When the sacred and daily routines were still fused, religion pervaded daily life. The sustaining rituals of existence were spiritual, and people's understanding of politics, war, economics, justice, literature, and art, as well as their concepts of death and their aspirations for life, were usually shaped within a religious context. The Church provided continuity through its traditions, rituals, and services and appealed to all groups, indigenous peoples as well as mestizos and whites.

Ethnicity is the other vital theme in Mexican history. The indigenous foundation of the nation in large part explains much of its uniqueness. The Spanish invasion resulted in the fusion of Europeans and Africans with native peoples. Colonial society was dynamic in part because the Church adopted culturally inclusive strategies and consciously retained many indigenous traditions. Consequently, Mexico possessed a national culture long before a sense of political nationalism emerged.

At various times in Mexican history, ethnic, religious, and regional tensions sub-, sided sufficiently to permit the formulation and implementation of national programs. Particularly notable are the pre-Hispanic era, the seventeenth century, the Porfiriato, and the period of confidence between 1940 and 1967. Few regimes succeeded if they failed to respect the religious, ethnic, and regional continuities that bound the country together. The pre-Hispanic centuries were notable for scientific and technological breakthroughs, economic success, and healthy living. Religion, however, had become a fundamental weakness of this epoch by the time Spaniards arrived. The seventeenth century witnessed the establishment of institutions that provided stability during a century of unusual change. Mexico adapted itself to the transatlantic system, while the interaction between religion and region became practical as well as harmonious. Perhaps the Porfiriato (1876-1911) succeeded more than any other system. During this era, the north and south experienced far greater economic growth than the center. Religion no longer divided society as it had during Mexico's tempestuous first half century of independence. Favoritism, however, became the fatal weakness of the Porfirian era. Between 1940 and 1967, Mexico enjoyed an era of self-confidence; civilian leaders placed economic growth at the head of their agenda and minimized ideological zeal and social conflict. The political crisis of 1968, however, soon brought economic as well as fiscal nightmares that plagued Mexico in the final decades of the twentieth century.

As the twenty-first century begins, Mexico appears to be entering a new age under recently elected President Vicente Fox. Sensitive to religious tradition, determined to balance regional growth, and promising a more harmonized relationship with the United States, Fox offers great hope. Mexico seems to be passing from an authoritarian, one-party state to a more complex and sophisticated society empowered by representative government, economic freedom, and social equality. As a leader who favors local and regional industrial development to complement Mexico's abundance of export-related plants, Fox seems to understand the continuities of the past while articulating the necessity for sensible change.

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