Children of the Revolution: Constructing the Mexican Citizen, 1920-1940
AuthorAlbarran, Elena Jackson
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 Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 resulted in a massive population loss that revolutionary officials sought to replace with a generation of active citizens. This dissertation demonstrates that the child's role from 1920 to 1940 transformed from that of an individual bounded by the family to that of a member of the community, the nation, and a transnational generation. Children entered the historical record in unprecedented numbers. Due to the impressive expansion of public education and the increased civic engagement that it yielded, children produced a rich cache of documents--letters, drawings, plays, and speeches--that provide a measure by which to gauge their responses to revolutionary programs.First, I explore adult-produced rhetoric and policies that placed children at the center of plans for creating new revolutionary citizens. Lawmakers, professionals, and governors attempted to construct a homogeneous generation of citizens through the balanced application of sound pedagogy, firm ideology, and modern medicine. Adults transformed public space and assumed new rhetorical styles that refashioned the child as a metaphor for the nation's future.Second, I measure children's responses to government and popular efforts to construct a universal childhood, and I demonstrate the uneven process of cultural dissemination. Unexpected reactions by younger children to itinerant educational puppet shows revealed age as a factor in reception. Children's letters to radio officials demonstrated that middle class children had greater access to the new media. Contributions to the art magazine Pulgarcito suggested a romanticization of rural children.Third, I reveal the ways that participation in civic activities expanded children's social networks and allowed them to imagine themselves as part of a national and international community of their peers. Children's conferences, literacy campaigns, and anti-alcohol marches, allowed children to sample national political culture and gain exposure to its hierarchies and bureaucracy. Pan-American exchanges between schoolchildren meant that Mexican youth saw themselves as part of a hemispheric family, united by a common race and common colonial heritage. The children growing up during these decades learned skills, gained a sense of political awareness, and absorbed and created cultural expressions that became recognized the world over as being distinctly Mexican.