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Collecting Mexico

Museums, Monuments, and the Creation of National Identity

Shelley E. Garrigan

Publication Year: 2012

Collecting Mexico centers on the ways in which aesthetics and commercialism intersected in officially sanctioned public collections and displays in late nineteenth-century Mexico. Shelley E. Garrigan approaches questions of origin, citizenry, membership, and difference by reconstructing the lineage of institutionally collected objects around which a modern Mexican identity was negotiated. In doing so, she arrives at a deeper understanding of the ways in which displayed objects become linked with nationalistic meaning and why they exert such persuasive force.

Spanning the Porfiriato period from 1867 to 1910, Collecting Mexico illuminates the creation and institutionalization of a Mexican cultural inheritance. Employing a wide range of examples—including the erection of public monuments, the culture of fine arts, and the representation of Mexico at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889—Garrigan pursues two strands of thought that weave together in surprising ways: national heritage as a transcendental value and patrimony as potential commercial interest.

Collecting Mexico shows that the patterns of institutional collecting reveal how Mexican public collections engendered social meaning. Using extensive archival materials, Garrigan’s close readings of the processes of collection building offer a new vantage point for viewing larger issues of identity, social position, and cultural/capital exchange.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. 1-27

At the close of the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, an exchange of cultural goods was negotiated between the founder and director of the Musée d’ Ethnographie du Trocadéro of France and the chief Mexican fair commissioner. With his eye on the mannequins in the Mexican pavilion that had been fashioned to represent particular indigenous races, French ...

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1. Fine Art and Demand: Debating the Mexican National Canon, 1876–1910

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pp. 29-64

... In this aficionado’s account, there is a particular tension that surfaces repeatedly to interrogate the status of national art in late-nineteenth century Mexico. The exchange of the coin for access to the public art exhibition introduces an uncomfortable economy of the sublime, a precept that underwrites the search for a national aesthetic with the problem of making it equivalent to a calculable abstract value. ...

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2. Our Archaeology: Science, Citizenry, Patrimony, and the Museum

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pp. 65-105

By the close of the nineteenth century in the Americas and Europe, the museum institution constituted a common reference point for the symbolic justification of a nation and culture. As such, the Mexican Museo Nacional is a particularly charged venue through which to discover the strategies employed by a nation that faced the task of reclaiming its archaeological heritage from ...

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3. The Hidden Lives of Historical Monuments: Commerce, Fashion, and Memorial

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pp. 107-133

If the “unintentional monument,” as Alöis Riegl termed the archaeological object in 1903,1 attracts the spectator’s attention based on the historical secrets that it contains, then what of the unabashed exposure represented by the intentional monument? A proliferation in public monument construction in Mexico (and Europe) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ...

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4. Collections at the World’s Fair: Rereading Mexico in Paris, 1889

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pp. 135-152

Held approximately every two to four years between the first large international exposition (at the Crystal Palace in England, 1851) and World War I, the late-nineteenth-century world’s fair events helped construct a Western paradigm focused on modernity and progress. The most imposing, the most propagated, and the most influential international constructions of the late nineteenth ...

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5. Collecting Numbers: Statistics and the Constructive Force of Deficiency

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pp. 153-175

One of the less obvious mediums through which the Mexican Porfiriato constructed and disseminated an image of nation during the late nineteenth century, observes Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo in Mexico at the World’s Fairs, was through statistical representation. An offspring of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the practice of statistics had undergone a transition in function from a descriptive role in geographical ...

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pp. 177-182

This book is the product of a set of questions that occurred to me as a graduate student in Latin American literature after taking seminars on the processes of Latin American modernization. Material references abounded in the modernista poetry and prose that we read. Particularly interesting to me was the figure of the fictional collector that surfaces in modernista literature, such as José Fernández in José ...

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pp. 183-191

I am grateful to many for their assistance in making this book possible. My department chair, Ruth Gross, provided me with a great deal of support. I am also indebted to a number of people for their invaluable constructive feedback on the manuscript as it evolved from the dissertation project, including Sylvia Molloy, Richard Rosa, Jens Andermann, ...


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pp. 185-206


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pp. 207-214


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pp. 215-233

E-ISBN-13: 9780816680153
E-ISBN-10: 0816680159
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816670932

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2012