Resources, Communities, and Conservation: The Creation of National Parks in Revolutionary Mexico under President Lazaro Cardenas, 1934-1940.
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.
AbstractThis dissertation analyzes the creation of national parks in Mexico between 1934 and 1940 as a program of national unity and federal resource control on the heels of revolutionary upheaval. In radical new ways, national park formation marked a complementary relationship between revolutionary social change and the environment. The creation, administration, and defense of these parks symbolized larger processes reordering how regulatory legitimacy came about and what factors shaped policy implementation. The parks, mostly within one or two hours of Mexico City, protected temperate forests but overlapped with longstanding communities. While some scientists critiqued peasant forest use techniques, the inclusive politics of the revolutionary government and the vibrant opinions of residents prevented their eviction from these national spaces. By articulating visions of their patrimony and zealously debating their rights to national territory, peasants, scientists, industrialists, and bureaucrats transformed revolutionary reforms into conspicuous environmental policy. This purposeful inclusion allowed citizens to forge national identity with explicit attention to the natural world.To demonstrate the assertion that social change had an environmental component, I use four case studies of Lagunas de Zempoala, La Malinche, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, and Tepozteco National Parks. These examples demonstrate the similarities and differences among the parks and their particular social, political, economic, and cultural implications. Tourists to Zempoala, communal property holders in Malinche, resin collectors on Popo and Izta, and activists in Tepozteco remind us that environmental issues pervaded the life stories of thousands of people. Parks were not whimsical oases for wealthy urbanites--they became tangible representations of how revolutionaries nationalized their natural territory. Revolutionaries planned their agenda for change based on the endowments of nature, they envisioned overcoming differences through the wealth of their surroundings, and they configured a revolutionary state to oversee that process.My study engages Mexican historians who have failed to consider the environment as a crucial factor in the construction of the new regime and revises world histories that underestimated conservation efforts in lesser developed countries. Rather than a story of environmental declension, it provides fresh insight into the everyday working relationships among communities, governments, and their resources.