Conference on Latin American History 9
Scholars of modern Mexico have long noted the centrality of transportation, communications, and infrastructural changes to the consolidation of the modern Mexican state, the expansion of export economies, and the unification of the domestic market, yet only recently have they begun to examine these changes in relation to the construction of national identity and transformation of social relations. This panel explores how physical infrastructures and technologies can be studied as social and cultural constructs that reveal much about the making of modern Mexican politics, culture, and society. Dr. Olsen’s work examines how the construction and naming of the Avenida 20 de Noviembre in Mexico City expressed the ideals and struggles of the post revolutionary state and its attempt to create a modern and dynamic city. Dr. Georg Leidenberger explores how the building of housing projects in Mexico City was essential in the consolidation of the post revolutionary state and to the establishment of the architect as intermediary in the expression of creative state power. Brain Freeman proposes that aviation, a new technology after the Mexican revolution, was a critical area in which the fledgling state sought to promote national unity and its own technological advancement. William Veeder considers how the Mexico City Metro, a major project in Diaz Ordaz’s attempt to modernize the city, functioned as a monument in the promotion of one vision of Mexican history and state legitimacy during the turbulent years of the late 1960’s. All the presenters examine how technology and modernity coincide with state building projects in post revolutionary Mexico Finally, our commentator, Eric Zolov will use his experience in the study of Post revolutionary Mexico to tie these works together in his comments. The novelty of this panel lies in its attempt to unify historiographies on technology, modernity and the study of the physical environment in postmodern studies of history, with those that examine state building and social movements in post-revolutionary Mexico.