Institute of the Americas


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Seminar: Total War: Mexico and Europe 1914

Start: Nov 19, 2014 5:30:00 PM

Speaker: Prof Alan Knight (Oxford); chair: Dr Paulo Drinot (UCL-Institute of the Americas) - This paper, originally given as the Luis González Lecture at the Colegio de México in early 2014, compares the (neglected) military dimension of the Mexican Revolution to the First World War in Europe, using the concept of 'total war' as the bridge; it defines 'total war' (in two distinct senses) and argues that, notwithstanding the dismissive comments of some historians of Mexico - for whom the armed revolution was a chaotic fiesta de balas, a 'carnival of bullets' - the revolution involved very costly mass conventional warfare. The argument, involving both demographic and military analysis, concludes that, in Mexico as in Europe, total war profoundly affected society, leaving a legacy of violence, veteran activism, and an incipient 'social pact' that underpinned the social reform and state-building of the 1920s and '30s.