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Modern Mexico is a diverse, complex, dynamic, and fascinating place. How might we understand it as a product of historical forces? This course traces the longer history of Mexico from Aztec times to the twenty-first century by examining how groups traditionally seen as marginalized within Mexican society shaped Mexico and its connections to the world around it. By reconstructing history “from below” rather than focusing on the political history of elites “from above,” readings and classroom lectures and discussions will demonstrate how popular groups negotiated imperial Aztec and colonial Spanish power relations, challenged, and at times subverted rule. We will then ask how such populations defended their interests and fought for a political voice in the newly emerging nation-state after Independence and during the long nineteenth century, culminating in the Mexican Revolution. In the second half of this course we will examine the ways in which such populations continued to play crucial roles in the political culture of postrevolutionary Mexico. We will focus in particular on urban politics in contemporary Mexico City and rural uprisings in Guerrero, Chiapas, and elsewhere. Special attention will also be paid to migration and the transborder lives of Mexicans in the United States and other parts of the world.
Students will learn about the history of Mexico through lectures, films, readings, and by analyzing and discussing primary sources, the written materials and visual records that people in the past left behind. We will also examine archeological evidence and popular media representations. Students will complete two short papers and take a midterm and final. This course is an excellent fit for those interested in learning more about Mexico and Latin America as well as those interested in history, international studies, American ethnic studies, anthropology, and archeology.
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