AuthorMatthews, Michael Alexander
AdvisorBeezley, William H.
Committee ChairBeezley, William H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe rapid growth of Mexico's railway networks represented the crowning achievement of the Porfiriato--that is, the regime headed by Porfirio Diaz, who ruled between 1876 and 1911. Having succeeded in bringing the internal stability needed for the growth and development of the economy, government officials repeatedly used the railroad as a symbol to highlight the accomplishments of Porfirian modernization and to legitimate the regime that had shed its liberal ideals and grown increasingly authoritarian. Boosters emphasized the ability of the government's railway project to bring civilization, to promote national unity, to increase commerce, and, even to whiten the population. At the same time, opposition groups, although not opposed to railway development per se, objected to the national costs and social hardships that resulted from the railway boom. Opponents, many of whom played influential roles in the Revolution (1910), exploited the symbolic and rhetorical power of the railroad to underscore the more negative aspects of Porfirian modernization and to question the so-called universal truths that defined the regime's civilizing mission. This study offers a radically different interpretation of how Porfirio Diaz maintained control of the country, stressing the importance of his supporter's success at exploiting the iconic power of the railway--the ultimate symbol of material progress--in literature, art, and pageantry. It offers a unique perspective on the outbreak of the 1910 Revolution, arguing that opponents of the regime used the railway as a metaphor to highlight the failures of the government's modernizing and civilizing mission, ideas also disseminated among the population in a myriad of cultural expressions.