Exercising the Cosmic Race: Mexican Sporting Culture and Mestizo Citizens
AuthorWysocki, David James
AdvisorBeezley, 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.
EmbargoRelease after 24-Feb-2018
AbstractSince the achievement of independence, Mexican officials looked for ways to bring together a country of many disparate parts into a single modern nation. Indeed, like their neighbors to the north, many officials supported programs to forge disciplined, productive, and selfless citizens capable of guiding the country in the future through cutting-edge educational programs. When a nearly fifty-year period of civil war and instability came to an end with the rise of dictator-president Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911), the general promoted the first sports programs to toughen up and straighten out a citizenry his cabinet believed had weakened in the country's many refurbished cities. These programs were, nevertheless, exclusionary in practice. The "Indian Problem," as many public officials called it, remained a primary concern as the supposed natural backwardness of the masses was interpreted as a societal disease that, for many, had no known cure. Diaz's presidency, which directed money and attention to wealthy urban centers to the detriment of the countryside, came to end when the masses rose with workers and women to take the government. This social revolution, which began in 1910, was the first in the world and brought to power a generation of idealistic leaders from all walks of life. These leaders took on the country's most desperate problems with creative cultural programs that were often guided by science. For revolutionaries, sports became a primary means of transforming the disparate masses into ideal athlete-citizens under a mestizo-aesthetic that were enlightened by science and willing to sacrifice personal ambition for the greater good. Officials from the military, public health, and education sectors crafted plans to mold citizens based on their visions of the revolution, but women and indigenous people did as well. In some ways these programs failed to meet the lofty expectations of the most idealistic leaders. In others, the revolutionary sports programs were among the most successful government programs created. The work completed between 1920 and 1946 in sports culture and physical education set the stage for some of the country’s greatest sports accomplishments that followed, including winning the right to host the Pan-American Games in 1955 and the Olympics in 1968. Scholars have debated the importance of sports in politics and society for decades, but even though Mexican historians have extensively analyzed revolutionary cultural programs, study on sports has been relegated to a footnote. This dissertation argued that sports were, in fact, considered a primary means of transforming the supposedly backwards masses into ideal citizens for officials in nearly all official departments.
Degree ProgramGraduate College