UCL Institute of the Americas


Book Launch: ‘Soldiers, Saints, and Shamans: Indigenous Autonomy and the Mexican Revolution'

02 December 2020, 5:30 pm–6:30 pm

Soldiers, Shamans and Saints

Please join us for the virtual book launch of this work by Nathaniel Morris (UCL History)

This event is free.

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UCL Institute of the Americas – UCL Institute of the Americas

The Mexican Revolution gave rise to the Mexican nation-state as we know it today. Rural revolutionaries took up arms against the Díaz dictatorship in support of agrarian reform, in defense of their political autonomy, or inspired by a nationalist desire to forge a new Mexico. However, in the Gran Nayar, a rugged and heavily Indigenous expanse of mountains and canyons in the far west of Mexico, the story was more complex. The region’s four Indian peoples – the Wixáritari (Huichols), Náayarite (Coras), O’dam (Tepehuanos) and Mexicaneros – are known for being among the least “assimilated” of all Mexico’s Indigenous groups, and are often assumed to have had no knowledge of the upheaval that convulsed the rest of Mexico between 1910 and 1940. However, based on extensive archival research and years of fieldwork, Morris shows that the peoples of the Gran Nayar fought both for and against a nationwide Revolution that they experienced locally as a clash between practitioners of subsistence agriculture and promoters of capitalist development; between rival Indian generations and political factions; and between opposing visions of the world, of religion, and of daily life. These confrontations resulted in severe defeats for the government’s regional state-building programmes, and had significant and often counterintuitive consequences both for local people, and for the Mexican nation as a whole, that can still be felt today.


Dr Nathaniel Morris |  Leverhulme Early Career Fellow | UCL History Department

Professor Benjamin Smith | Professor of Latin American History |  Warwick University

Dr Julie Gibbings | Lecturer in the History of Americas | University of Edinburgh

'Soldiers, Saints, and Shamans. Indigenous Communities and the Revolutionary State in Mexico’s Gran Nayar, 1910–1940' by Dr Nathaniel Morris is published by University of Arizona Press

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Dr Nathaniel Morris - academic profile

Professor Benjamin Smith - academic profile

Dr Julie Gibbings - academic profile

University of Arizona press - title webpage


Courtesy of University of Arizona Press and N Morris