Business, Nationalism, and Aviation in 1920s and 1930s Mexico

Friday, January 6, 2012: 10:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom G (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
J. Brian Freeman, City University of New York, Graduate Center
Aviation arrived in Mexico on the eve of the Revolution and as fighting broke out planes were quickly deployed on the battlefield transforming Mexican rebels into some of the first military aviators. With the consolidation of peace during the 1920s and 1930s, state builders and entrepreneurs adopted the still novel technology for such diverse uses as mail and payroll delivery, advertisement and entertainment, travel over roadless terrain, and tourism. Drawing on a growing body of work on transport, travel, and mobility (T2M), particularly by scholars working in Western Europe, this paper examines how public and private interests in Mexico turned to aviation as they sought to rebuild the country after a violent social revolution and forge a common national community. Drawing from unused archival material from the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works, this paper reveals that the Mexican state viewed aviation as critical to the achievement of its economic, political, cultural, and diplomatic goals. By studying the state’s negotiations with domestic and foreign aviation companies it extends current research into the transnational origins of Mexican nationalism and furthers our understanding of the role of the private sector in the economic and cultural reconstruction of the country.
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