Historical Memory, Proto-Nationalism, and Nationalism in Mexico: Southwestern Puebla from1519 to 1862



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This dissertation traces the evolution of micro-patriotism as practiced in pre-Columbian Mexico; the development of parallel proto-nationalist ideologies among Indians, blacks, castas, and criollos during the colonial era; and the widespread expressions of popular nationalism expressed from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries in the Atlixco-Izúcar region. The concept of a glorious and noble Aztec nation promoted by the writings of Spanish, criollo, and Indian historians was a tenet held by many colonial subjects. Similarly, holy icons such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, herself a syncretic figure composed of Indian and Spanish elements, gave a common religious identity to the different ethnic groups that lived side by side in southwestern Puebla. Armed by similar patriotic sentiments, large popular sectors came together in a common struggle for independence in the 1810s and in resistance to the United States and French invaders in the mid-nineteenth century. These dynamics, however, do not constitute evidence for the existence of a continuous line of nationalist thought in Mexico since ancient times. By focusing on the patriotic sentiments of people of color in the Atlixco-Izúcar region, this dissertation instead traces an unbroken line of popular nationalism to the popular uprisings of mid- and late-eighteenth century New Spain. This study illustrates how oppression at the hands of the Spaniards gave impoverished people of color and some criollos a common enemy and a shared class consciousness. By focusing on the patriotic sentiments of the people of southwestern Puebla, this dissertation suggests that the widespread expressions of popular nationalism found in this region are linked to popular historical memory and to local histories of anti-colonial resistance.



Nationalism, Historical memory