HIST2900: Foreigners and Revolutionary Mexico, c.1910-1940


The Mexican Revolution both repulsed and fascinated foreign observers, and many travelled to Mexico to observe, understand and shape the revolution. They included: diplomats, left-wing sympathizers, scientists, anthropologists, and artists.  This class uses these visitors' primary accounts to illuminate different aspects of Mexico's revolutionary process, and explore how foreigners viewed Mexico (and their own societies). More broadly, it will introduce students to debates about the Mexican Revolution and the role of foreigners in Latin American history. To this end we will explore concepts of informal empire, cultural imperialism, and the relationship between nationalism and transnationalism.

The revolution is defined broadly. It encompasses the rebellion and civil war of 1910-1920, the long process of social reform, cultural experimentation, and nation building in the 1920s and 1930s, and the consolidation of a durable authoritarian regime by the 1940s. We will focus mainly on Anglo-American visitors because these sources are most accessible, and because Mexico's relationship with the USA and the UK was particularly important. We will look at traditional diplomatic sources, and think about what non-state actors can add to our understanding of the period.

Each week we will use a different kind primary source to explore key themes, and students are very much encouraged to pursue their own interests and topics in consultation with me.