UCL Institute of the Americas


The Cristero War in Zacatecas and its borderlands, 1926-29

24 September 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

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IHR Latin American History Seminar.

This event is free.

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Daisy Voake


Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

Mexico’s Cristero War is remembered in popular and large swathes of academic history as a religious conflict. Certainly, President Calles’s hardline anti-clericalism was answered by the Catholic hierarchy’s nationwide suspension of the provision of Catholic worship from the summer 1926. This standoff in turn provoked guerrilla violence between pro-government militants supported by the Federal army and pro-Catholic militants (known as ‘Cristeros’) supported by diverse clerical, landowning and communitarian elements throughout several western states of Mexico. By 1927 the Cristero revolt was formally organised, and would fight the Federal government to a standstill by 1929.

But amidst the religious versus progressive Manichaean image of the Cristero War lies another aspect which has been understudied by academic historians, especially in the Zacatecas region. The Cristero War was also a civil war, which produced its own ‘logic’ of violence, resistance, collaboration and survival, all of which developed a momentum which ranged beyond the religious/ideological origins and propaganda of the conflict. This paper offers a secular and regional reading of a war drenched in religious representation. Using published and unpublished sources, the latter mostly from archives in the region, this paper offers a ‘bottom-up’ explanation of the war from the perspective of both combatants and non-combatants.

About the Speaker

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence is a transnational historian of the modern Hispanic world at the University of Kent. He is the author of several books, articles and chapters on Napoleonic, Spanish and Mexican history, including Insurgency, Counter-insurgency and Policing in Centre-West Mexico, 1926-1929 (forthcoming, Bloomsbury).