Servants of the Nation: The Military in the Making of Modern Mexico, 1876-1911
AdvisorBeezley, William H
Committee ChairBeezley, William H
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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 twilight of a tempestuous nineteenth-century saw the rise of a new order and a newly defined nation in Porfirian Mexico (1876-1911). Given the martial background of General Porfirio Diaz, and the warfare that marked the times, military involvement in the modernizing country was not altogether surprising. But relative stability and technological advances now enabled a much reduced army to exert itself in unprecedented ways. Far out of proportion to their size, the armed forces absorbed half the national budget and penetrated every area of society with military officers making up, among other things, many of the most important politicians, engineers, and writers. Thousands of young men, often forcibly conscripted, entered a national army that extended the State into regions previously beyond centralized influence or surveillance. Yet the regime's ostentatious public rituals of parade and manoeuvre stood in stark contrast to the violent eradication of bandits, dissidents, and indigenous rebels. Hatred of Porfirian brutality and decadence has obscured the truly significant contributions the military made to the nascent Mexico.By devising and enacting their particular visions of the nation, and embodying it through practices that ranged from crime and duels to parades and battle, the military proved integral to the formation of nationalism and its constituent identities of gender, class, and racial organization. I contend that the role of the military offers important clues to the making of the modern nation. Both the history of its impact as an institution and the role of soldiers in civil society shed light on the historical roots of Mexican cultures and politics that persisted into the twentieth century, and offer insights into the roots of some persisting challenges-- machismo, corruption, and distrust of public institutions. The military comprises both lens and exemplar of how the process of becoming modern shapes the foundations of what is understood as the nation.