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La Revolución

Mexico's Great Revolution as Memory, Myth, and History

By Thomas Benjamin

Publication Year: 2000

The 1910 Revolution is still tangibly present in Mexico in the festivals that celebrate its victories, on the monuments to its heroes, and, most important, in the stories and memories of the Mexican people. Yet there has never been general agreement on what the revolution meant, what its objectives were, and whether they have been accomplished. This pathfinding book shows how Mexicans from 1910 through the 1950s interpreted the revolution, tried to make sense of it, and, through collective memory, myth-making, and history writing, invented an idea called "la Revolución." In part one, Thomas Benjamin follows the historical development of different and often opposing revolutionary traditions and the state’s efforts to forge them into one unified and unifying narrative. In part two, he examines ways of remembering the past and making it relevant to the present through fiestas, monuments, and official history. This research clarifies how the revolution has served to authorize and legitimize political factions and particular regimes to the present day. Beyond the Mexican case, it demonstrates how history is used to serve the needs of the present.

Published by: University of Texas Press

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pp. ix-xi

I have been reading the Mexican revolution for more than twenty- five years. During the 1980s I summarized what I was beginning to learn in historiographical essays. Historiography led me back through the few generations of historians who have narrated, researched, and interpreted...

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The Pantheon of National Heroes

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pp. 1-8

These historical figures are mentioned throughout the book. This list does not include all national heroes, only those that have the most resonance in Mexican patriotic discourse. ...

Chronology of Events, 1810-1910

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pp. 9-12

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Introduction: The Revolution with a Capital Letter

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pp. 13-23

We Mexicans make a distinction, one of Mexico's most well-known political leaders, Moises Saenz, explained in 1929, "between the Revolution with a capital and revolutions with a small letter."1 The Revolution with a capital letter, he intended to convey, was commendable and justified, almighty...

Chronology of Events, 1911-1928

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pp. 25-29

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pp. 31-35

What follows is the history of la Revolucion as invented and constructed by the voceros de la Revolucion, who produced revolutionary speeches, manifestos, and other writings in the Mexico of the 1910s and 1920s. Nearly every scrap of public political language in the period included some representation of the...

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1. 1911-1913: "Every Event's Name Is Itself an Interpretation."

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pp. 37-48

Mexican revolutionaries carried on an uninterrupted discourse of memory during the 1910s and 1920s. From the beginning of the revolutionary movement, these voceros de la Revolucion, a rather thin but widely scattered stratum of insurgent literati, wrote about recent events as a singular historical...

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2. 1913-1920" "Warring Authorities Mean Warring Pasts."

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pp. 49-67

Many self-styled revolutionary movements appeared in Mexico following the destruction of the Madero government. These groups fought a common enemy in Victoriano Huerta, as well as vying with one another. The next few years witnessed a jumbled parade of "istas" -Maderistas...

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3. 1920-1928: "Political Domination Involves Historical Definition."

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pp. 68-78

During the 1920s, successive Mexican governments turned to la Revolucion for legitimacy. La Revolucion, as they received it, was indispensable but incomplete. The voceros de la Revolucion, increasingly a part of the government bureaucracy, still worked on interpreting and defining the great...

Chronology of Events, 1928-1968

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pp. 79-83

Photo Section

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pp. 85-91

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pp. 93-97

In the summer of 1928 the Caudillo de la Revolucion was assassinated. Obregon, not unlike Porfirio Diaz decades before, was not simply the strongman. He knew also how to play politics: how to balance interests and rivalries, how to conciliate and intimidate those individuals...

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4. Festival: A Vigorous Mexico Arising

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pp. 99-116

Revolution day, the twentieth of November, is one of Mexico's most important patriotic festivals. On this day every year Mexicans remember and celebrate la Revolucion. This day commemorates specifically November 20, 1910, the date selected by Francisco I. Madero for the popular uprising...

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5. Monument: From the Ruins of the Old Regime

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pp. 117-136

For more than twenty years, the skeletal iron frame of the Palacio Legislativo Federal, the national capitol, designed to be one of the triumphs of Beaux-Arts architecture of the age of Porfirio Diaz, dominated the skyline of Mexico City.The most important building that the Porfirian regime...

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6. History: The Work of Concord and Unifcation

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pp. 137

During the 1960s veterans of la Revolucion gathered every August to offer their political support to the president during what came to be known as the Breakfast of Revolutionary Unity. Unity in the present was projected upon the past. The bitter factional rivalries of earlier years were downplayed...

Chronology of Events, 1968-Present

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pp. 153-156

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Conclusion: Affirming and Subverting the Revolution

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pp. 157-165

During the late 1940s some of Mexico's most prominent intellectuals pronounced la Revolucion dead. No revolution, they argued, is immortal, and Mexico's more conservative turn under President Miguel Aleman Valdes (1946-52) certainly marked the end of an era in modern Mexican...


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pp. 167-204


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pp. 205-206


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pp. 207-232


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pp. 233-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780292798205
E-ISBN-10: 0292798202
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292708808
Print-ISBN-10: 0292708807

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 11 b&w photos, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2000