Revolutionary Encounters: Race, Class, and Allegiance in Post-revolutionary Mexico and Republican Spain, 193139

Friday, January 4, 2019: 9:10 AM
Salon 1 (Palmer House Hilton)
Kevan Antonio Aguilar, University of California, San Diego
This paper examines the racial and economic discourses that drove Mexico’s support for the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939) and the subsequent arrival of 20,000 political refugees following the rise of the Franco dictatorship. Mexican narratives of this time period emphasize the country’s support for the Spanish republic as a gesture of humanitarianism and an effort to preserve democracy amidst the rise of European fascism. Yet the decision to permit Spanish refugees came at a time when Mexico enforced intense anti-immigrant legislation. Expanding on recent contributions regarding the history of Mexican immigration policies, this paper seeks to analyze the exceptional treatment of Spanish refugees during the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas from within and outside of state legislation. Government actors utilized the ideology of mestizaje as a means to justify the refugees’ insertion into Mexican society. Viewed as agents of economic prosperity and racial miscegenation, state officials saw the refugees as crucial actors towards a modern, mixed-racial Mexican citizenry. Yet among the rural and urban communities the exiles ultimately inhabited, much of Mexico’s laboring classes saw the Spaniards not as agents of the state, but as compatriots in the struggle for social revolution. This paper follows the thoughts and actions of Mexican political activists, agrarian leaders, and community members as they saw the Spanish refugees as allies in furthering their country’s revolutionary reforms. Not only did popular conceptions of race and class challenge state policies relating to political refugees, they aimed to build solidarity between Mexico and Spain as nations both bound and liberated by their respective relationships to colonialism and revolution. By examining both state and popular conceptions of race, class, and citizenry, this paper contributes to the understanding of transnational class, racial, and community formations.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation