The Mexican Cultural Renaissance Monday January 24 January Guy Thomson Lecture: Muralism and Indigenismo Two overlapping projects/movements: Each tells us how politicians, artists and intellectuals were constructing an idea of the Nation during the 1910s-30s. Chance now also to measure response/reception: see Lewis & Lopez articles Post-revolutionary Indigenismo With the Revolution, change in the way intellectuals and members of the government regarded Indians Indians: 33% of population, compared with 60% at Independence Yet 2/3 of Mexicans remained bilingual Indigenismo: Nation Building - an attempt by post-revolutionary leaders to give fresh impetus to the process of nation-building; to convert Indians from being passive to active citizens, in words of Manuel Gamio, “to forge the fatherland”. - apart from constructing the nation state by integrating formerly separate patrias chicas (little fatherlands) through schools, indigenismo would transform the self image of Mexico’s non Indian white elites and mestizo middle classes. Indigenismo: Nationalism The Indian past and present would become a source of pride. Europe or the US would cease being the primary reference points for national identity in what Mary Kay Vaughan calls “the browning of the Nation”. Indigenismo was therefore a mark of Nationalism as well as nation-state building. Indigenismo: Populist legitimacy Indigenismo was also attractive to post revolutionary leaders because provided a means for de-legitimising existing elites. Alan Knight: “Indigenismo claimed to seek the emancipation and integration of Mexico’s exploited Indian groups: emancipation from the old oppressions of landlord, cacique, and cura (priest); integration into the new revolutionary state and nation.” Ch. By Alan Knight in Richard Graham, The Idea of Race in Latin America The benefits of “being Indian” Once indigenismo was embedded as an official ideology, Knight claims that it perpetuated “a kind of instrumental Indianness”. Poor peasants learned that they could benefit from appearing Indian as it satisfied their political superiors to see them as such. See Seminar sheet: Rick Lopez “India Bonita” contest, Frances Kartunnen on “Mexican Indian” artists‟ model Luz Jimenez, and Benjamin Smith (“Inventing Tradition at Gunpoint”) on cacique promotion of Indian culture and identity. The benefits of “being Indian” In Being Indian in Hueyapan Judith Friedlander shows how a Nahua speaking community would put on special “Indian” festivals to welcome visiting politicians and anthropologists. Yet, what “being Indian” in Hueyapan really meant was being poor, marginal to the Nation and liable to being treated condescendingly, if not forgotten altogether (Friedlander was writing in the 1970s). Instrumental Indianness Chiapas: promotion of bi-lingual Ttoztzil Indian scribes in the Central highlands from 1930s: Jan Rus, "The 'Communidad Revolucionaria Institucional': The Subversion of Native Government in Highland Chiapas, 1936-1968," in Gilbert Joseph and Daniel Nugent (eds) Everyday Forms of State Formation Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico pp. 265-300 Instrumental Indianness Contrast this with Chiapas state government’s persecution of lowland Mam Maya group (for being Guatemalan/non-Mexican) Aida Hernandez Castillo, Histories and Stories from Chiapas Border Identities in Southern Mexico Ch 1, “ The Post-Revolutionary National project and the Mexicanisation of the Mam People”, and for the Mam’s conversion to Protestantism, Chs. 2-5 Indians & Mexico’s 19th C Liberal Revolution -emphasis upon individual citizenship, private property, separation of Church and state.... - a male project....excluded women, children and “Indians” (as defined as under Spanish rule = wards/children). - Liberalism expected Indians to overcome wardship, to become in Benito Juarez‟s words “men” ...to cease being Indians - means: individual land ownership and education (Justo Sierra, Diaz‟s Min of Education believed Indians to be redeemable through education) Ignacio Altamirano: precocious indigenista - some radical Liberals inspired by 16th C Franciscan missionary ideal, believed that Indians still needed protection and guidance -Ignacio Altamirano in “Cuadros de Costumbres” empathises with vigorous popular culture in Indian villages ...suggests a firmer basis for national identity ? -in “Navidad en la Montanas” praises enlightened and ethnologically sensitive priest see Edward Wright-Rios on Altamirano 19th C Nationalism & Indians However, most Liberal believed living Indians to be civilised out of indianness with only memory of Mexico‟s great Indian past to be retained for “national identity” - later 19th C taste in “Indianista” history painting .... - rehabilitation of Indian heroes such as Cuautemoc and Xicotencatl....place names & statues.... Guy Thomson, Politics, Patriotism and Popular Liberalism for precocious indigenismo around Juan Francisco Lucas Stacie Widderfield, The Embodiment of the National in Late Nineteenth Century Mexican Painting 1996 Jose Obregon, “The Discovery of Pulque” 1869 Cuautemoc Monument, 1892 Cuautemoc Monument, 1892 Maya ruins at Chicago World Fair, 1893, Mauricio Tenorio, Mexico at the World‟s Fairs Indians & 20th Social Revolution - Frank Tannenbaum in Peace by Revolution, (1932): saw Mexican Revolution anonymous...no intellectuals, no revolutionary party, just people....volcano analogy - yet there were intellectuals - “cultural caudillos” – Jose Vasconcelos, Manuel Gamio, Moises Saenz, Vicente Lombardo Toledano - who shaped/directed social and cultural policy during 1910‟s and 20‟s (Enrique Krauze, Los Caudillos Culturales en la Revolucion Mexicana) - shared a critique of positivism while often remaining within its scientific historicist/teleological parameters Critique of Positivism -Andrés Molina Enríquez in Los Grandes Problemas Nacionales (1909) identified social and ethnic bias of Liberalism, particularly the privatisation of community lands. -Indians left vulnerable….predicts social revolution unless laws are changed -Recommends restoring ejidos….1917 Article 27 -Emilio H Kouri, “Interpreting the Expropriation of Indian Pueblo Lands in Porfirian Mexico: The Unexamined Legacies of Andrés Molina Enríquez” Hispanic American Historical Review 2002, 82, 69- 117 The Culturalist Turn in Anthropology reaction to biological and racial bias of 19th C sociology and anthropology, grand teleological and Darwinian models of human evolution E.g. University of Chicago’s E. Frederick Starr, Indian Mexico, 1908: expedition to Mexico to measur heads od different ethnic groups (craniology/phrenology) shift to cultural approach associated with Franz Boas (1858-1942) trained at Heidelberg, Bonn, Keil and Chicago, in 1899 appointed as Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University in New York at 41. Franz Boas, 1858-1842 The Culturalist Turn Boas eschewed grand theory for empirical method….favoured in depth study of a single community in all of its cultural complexity: Transformed practice of anthropology: eg Robert Redfield, Tepoztlan, A Mexican Community (1927) and Chan Kom A Maya Village (1934) & Chan Kom Revisited (1950) Devised concept of the “Folk Culture” – peasant society “balanced” between tradition and modernity - and the “Urban-Rural continuum” Folk Cultures of the Yucatan (1941) base upon individual community studies chosen from the periphery (still a rebel zone descendants of 1848 Caste War), from the fontier (Chan Kom), from the Henequen hacienda zone, and from the barrios of the state capital at Merida. two key Mexican shapers of post-revolutionary Indian policy, Manuel Gamio and Moises Saenz, took their MA/PhDs with Boas at Columbia Manuel Gamio (1983-1960) 1904 abandoned a career in the College of Mines to live for two years on an hacienda in Puebla, learned Nahuatl and experienced first hand poor living conditions of Indians. - 1906 returned to Mexico City to study archaeology, ethnology and anthropology at the National Museum with Nicolas León. 1908 worked with Zelia Nuttall at the archaeological site at Chalchihuites, Zacatecas 1909 went to Columbia University to work with Franz Boaz, first director of the American School of Archaeology and Ethnology in Mexico City. 1911 Gamio returned to Mexico with an MA to teach archaeology at the National Museum. Manuel Gamio (1983-1960) 1913-1916 worked as general inspector of arch. monuments under the Secretary of Public Education. 1916 published Forjando Patria (see below) 1916-1920 director of the International School of American Archaeology and Ethnology 1917 established the “Direction of Anthropology” in the Secretary of Agriculture y Development serving as director 1917-24 when he developed his integral study of the Valley of Teotihuacan. (see below) 1925 appointed Sub Secretary of Public Education after Vasconcelos Manuel Gamio, Forjando Patria, 1916 Forjando Patria urged Mexicans to reject European aesthetic and to adopt indigenous criteria for evaluating the beauty and significance of Mexican objects of art and archaeology: the “hammer of Spain” should be discarded and the “Indian anvil” should become the Nation. See debates over this “new” post-revolutionary aesthetic accompanying Mexico’s first exhibition of popular arts in 1921 Rick López, “The Noche Buena and the Exhibition of Popular Arts: Two Ways of Exalting Indianness” in Vaughan and Lewis (eds), The Eagle and the Virgin,23-42 Manuel Gamio (1983-1960) Gamio’s Teotihuacan Project aim was to get inside “Indian Mexico” through a series of in-depth studies of Indian archaeology, language, culture, living standards, etc.. The valley of Teotihuacan would be a pilot project, to be repeated throughout the rest of the Republic. divided Indian Mexico into seventeen cultural areas based upon the principal indigenous linguistic groups (but within existing state boundaries, fearful perhaps of re-awakening trans-state tribal identities). Once known scientifically, “Indian Mexico” would then be transformed by a programme of overlapping social policies: hygiene and health, agrarian, educational and cultural, economic and industrial. a culturalist teleology had replaced a biological one with same positivist framework..... Gamio’s Teotihuacan Project The project foundered because of its ambitious, integrationist remit. Gamio assumed that there was little in the valley worth saving. Convinced that Indians needed emancipation from oppressive colonial institutions, such as the Church and the hacienda. Redemption could only come though external agencies. underestimated native attachment to Catholic institutions such as their confraternities and their fiestas. underestimated the economic importance of the hacienda, whose productivity villages would find hard to replicate. ignored the value of native medicine or the nutritional advantages of the valley‟s main commodities: pulque and maize. I925 Gamio quits... After Gamio‟s sudden departure from office in 1925, the Department of Anthropology was dismantled, as was the Department of Indian Culture. Apart from the Casa del Estudiante Indígena established in 1926 (described by Lewis and Dawson) government institutions designed specifically for the Indian population would not to reappear until the later 1930s. Model Indians Although Indigenismo was dropped from official policy after Gamio‟s dismissal in 1925, interest in the Indian among Mexican intellectuals did not flag. Alexander Dawson reveals how Gamio‟s image of the “broken Indian” in need of redemption by a beneficent state was by no means the only image of the Indian: Dawson, “From Models for the Nation to Model Citizens” Journal of Latin American Studies, No.30:2 (1998), pp. 279-308. Model Indians Analysing articles on Indian culture and society in the periodicals Ethnos and Mexican Folkways during the 1920s and 30s Dawson concludes that, far from disparaging the Indian or holding up the mestizo as the ideal national type, most authors promoted the Indian as a model for the future of the nation: “…the idealised Indian who emerged from this perspective was not simply a cultural icon, but at times became the very model of egalitarian politics, social conscience and virtue that Indigenistas (and revolutionaries in general) sought to use to construct a modern, revolutionary order. Far from being an „other‟, this Indian was clearly an integral member of the national community.” Over the 1925-36 period cultural policy shifted from integrationist “indigenismo” to policies directed at bettering the livelihood of all rural Mexicans (in the belief that treating indigenous groups separately would only increase their low standing within national society). Integrationism: Jose Vasconcelos This had already begun under Minister of Education (1920-24) José Vasconcelos: overtly integrationist and Hispano-centric stance. Among his pet projects were: 1) the portable library of classics (Cervantes, Tolstoy, Shakespeare,etc.) to be sent on mule back to remote mountain villages… 2) the Cultural missions, modelled on those of the mendicant friars of the 16th Century, sent to the remoter Indian to recruit and train rural school teachers…. Jose Vasconcelos, Minister of Education , 1920-1924 Integral Education No lover of Indians, Vasconcelos believed Indian culture to be defunct and that the future of Mexico (and the Americas) belonged to the mixed races (La Raza Cósmica). A holistic, non-discriminatory educational policy (designed for all rural Mexicans) continued under Gamio‟s successor at Minister of Public Education, Moises Saenz who in 1925 inaugurated a programme of “educación integral rural” (based upon John Dewey‟s “Action School”). (studying at Columbia with Boas in early 1930s would transform Saenz‟s approach…see later) Action Schools Gamio’s successor in the Ministry of Education was fellow Columbia Graduate (although in Philosophy) and disciple of US educationist John Dewey. Saenz believed during the 1920s that Mexico’s economic, social and cultural problems could be resolved by “action schools”, established in all rural communities, regardless of ethnicity (such schools are described in Tannenbaum’s Peace by Revolution and Eyler Simpson, The Ejido Mexico’s Way Out). Action Schools “…Rural schools were to become laboratories for experimentation in socio-economic change. Rural teachers were to serve the interests of the whole population, rather than limiting their contribution to the traditional field of formal instruction ……They were assisted in this task by the mobile Cultural Missions, containing teams of specialists in fields deemed useful for community development: doctors, nurses, veterinarians, home economists, carpenters, musicians, dramatists, painters, and others” (Cynthia Hewitt, Anthropological Perspectives on Rural Mexico p.14) Action Schools - purpose of the program was to raise rural living standards and incorporate rural people into the mainstream of national culture and society. - Saenz assumed, as had Gamio, that physical and socio-cultural isolation was the reason for rural backwardness and that education (plus roads) was the proper tool for ameliorating the most pressing problems of rural people. - at first Saenz deemed it unnecessary to separate the population into separate ethno-cultural categories. - Saenz was an assiduous traveller; a habit and political style Lázaro Cárdenas would adopt in the 1930s. - growing familiarity with the cultural complexity of the Mexican countryside, combined with journeys to Central and South America, where he witnessed the sorry plight of the indigenous population of Guatemala and the Andes, eventually made him doubt the soundness of a single approach to community development (see last section of lecture on Saenz during the 1930s) Muralism As we have seen, Minister of Education Vasconcelos was hardlyan “indigenista”. yet in 192e he prompted a Revolution in Mexican art which at least brought Indians and Indian History onto Mexico‟s walls..... Populist wall paintings depicting historical, mythological and contemporary themes - often, although not exclusively of a leftist persuasion – became part of the visual culture of Europe and the Americas during the 1920s and 1930s. Can be found all over the western world, from Moscow to San Francisco, from Toronto to Santiago in Chile. … Muralism in North America Yet only in two countries did mural painting become a national art that defined an age: -Mexico from the early 1920s, inspired by Jose Vasconcelos, Min. Of Educ. 1920-24 -US from 1929 to the 1940s, New Deal Federal Art Programme, inspired in part by the work of Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Siqueiros in the US during the late 1920s and early 30s… See Ch.4 “The Mexican Art Invasion” in Helen Delpar The Enormous Vogue Seven reasons for Mexico’s Mural renaissance 1 messianic dreams of Vasconcelos and the civilising project of the Mexican state: emulating 16th C Franciscan missionaries, addressing and elevating a pre-literate society....belief in the power of images 2 populist political andf nation-building objectives of successive Mexican post-revolutionary Governments.... 3 Boaz‟s “culturalist” (anti-Darwinist) revolution in anthropology and archaeology and the search for an indigenous aesthetic….. 4 Mexico‟s tradition of Academic training for artists and the reaction against this academic tradition during the Revolution of 1910-20....Open Airs Schools Seven reasons for Mexico’s Mural renaissance 5, tdirect experience academically trained artists had of European Cubism, abstraction and primitivism during the 1910s: Diego Rivera and Roberto Montenegro won scholarships to study in Europe in 1912 6 interest of US patrons and artists in Mexican folk art and in the Mexican artists … better able to express the “American soul”...muralism as a North American populist reaction against abstraction 7 Competition between Mexican artists – especially “los Tres Grandes”: Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Siqueiros ... Diego Rivera at the New School for Social Research in New York, 1932 José Clemente Orozco at Baker Library, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, 1932 David Siqueiros in jail Mexico City 1960 Interpretations of Mexican muralism: revived traditions ? Anita Brenner in Idols behind Altars (1929) sees mural renaissance as a spontaneous welling-up of Mexico‟s natural artistic traditions released by the Revolution and of painters responding to what was around them instead of to Europe: -Indians and common people, - archaeological remains, colonial monuments, -pulquería paintings, -Guadalupe Posada‟s popular broad sheets… For Brenner mural renaissance represented the rebuilding of a monumental public space – the temple complex - destroyed by the Conquest. Colonial Frescoes: Huejotzingo, 1525 Mexican popular art: pulqueria painting Interpretations of Mexican muralism: Propaganda ? Leonard Folgarait (Mural Painting and Social Revolution in Mexico, 1920-40 ) rejects Brenner‟s view that muralism was natural outgrowth of Mexico‟s popular arts spurred by social revolution. sees the mural renaissance as a “massive propaganda campaign” led by an insecure and power thirsty governing elite: “large mural paintings…(served)…as advertisements for its policies….it was central to the health of the Obregon regime to keep the working masses, rural and urban, quiet and under strict control. They had given him his power and could easily take it away.” Vasconcelos was put in charge of directing national cultural programmes: “to assist the government in creating a system of political control through the unification and classification of the masses.” Propaganda The poet Octavio Paz would have agreed: “The Mexican muralists have been turned into Saints…The walls are not painted surfaces but fetishes that we must venerate. The Mexican government has made muralism a national cult and of course, as in all cults, criticism is outlawed. Mural painting…(is)…the wax museum of Mexican nationalism.” (The Labarynth of Solitude) Revolutionary art ? French painter, Jean Charlot (who painted the first mural in the National Preparatory School in 1921), in The Mexican Mural Renaissance: 1920-1925, and the British mural artist, Desmond Rochfort, in Mexican Muralism, focus on the artists themselves: - how they contributed to the collapse Academism during the Mexican Revolution and what they put in its place.... Historiography : revolutionary art ? - solidarity among painters and identification with the Mexican Revolution as part of the “world revolution”: see the manifesto of the “Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors” 1923 Artists remained consistently more radical in their message than the government would have liked…… Impact ? Revolutionary art ? Hard to measure.... Reaction of Artists to the Revolution: Zapatistas Diego Rivera, Zapatistas, Fernando Leal, Zapatistas Paris, 1915 at rest, 1920 Tonala Potters, Guadalajara 1923 (being restored in 2004) Unfinished fresco, Vestry, Octavio Paz Library, Guadalajara, 1923 Rivera’s First Mural, Creation, National Preparatory School, 1921 Rivera in Tehuantepec, 1921 Rivera in Tehuantepec, 1921 Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP) 1923 Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP) 1923 Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP) 1923 Orozco’s First Mural, National Preparatory School, 1921 Rivera, Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP) 1923 Rivera, Agricultural college at Chapingo 1924 Chapingo: “Agrarian Communion” Chapingo, Division of the Land, 1924 Rivera, Chapingo, 1924 Cortes Palace, Cuernavaca, 1927 Cortes Palace, Cuernavaca, 1927 Cortes Palace, 1927 Cortes Palace, Cuernavaca, 1927 Rivera, National Palace, 1928 Rivera, National Palace, 1928 Rivera, National Palace, 1928 Moises Saenz By the mid 1930s, indigenistas and policy makers grew more aware of how education programmes needed to be tailored to Indian needs, rather than to some ideal, enlightened, secular, western blueprint. One who moved from an integrationalist position during the 1920s, to a more advanced culturally pluralist stance by the mid-30s, was Moises Saenz…studied with Boas in early 1930s Moises Saenz Saenz was an assiduous traveller; a habit and political style Lázaro Cárdenas would adopt in the 1930s. Growing familiarity with the cultural complexity of the Mexican countryside, combined with journeys to Central and South America where he witnessed the sorry plight of the indigenous population of Guatemala and the Andes, eventually made him doubt the soundness of a single approach to community development. Saenz Moises to a culturally pluralistic indigenismo came conversion during the early 1930s after conducting six months anthropological research in the Tarascan village Carapan. found that federal cultural programmes, particularly the federal rural school, were neglected, even reviled Tarascan informers stated that they had liked the community as it was and requested only to be left alone. In his report on the project in 1936, Saenz wrote: “As far as change goes…I‟d bet more on the road than the school to bring it about.” Such hostile local response to federal cultural projects, particularly to Socialist Education, was common throughout much of Indian and Catholic rural Mexico: see Stephen Lewis, 'The Nation, Education and the “Indian Problem” in Mexico, 1920-1940', in Vaughan and Lewis (eds), The Eagle and the Virgin, pp. 176-95 Moises Saenz The experience of Carapan prompted Saenz to rethink his position on the relationship between social policy and ethnic difference. In México Integro (1939) argues that the problem for Indian communities was not isolation, but exploitation and the unfavourable term of their incorporation within the wider society, rooted in the Conquest. “The indigenous world is one….of miserable people, terrorized and exploited….throughout the country the Indians are criminally abandoned by the ruling classes, and subjected to the most iniquitous exploitation.” in contrast to Manuel Gamio, Saenz was keenly aware of the positive aspects of indigenous life and the importance of protecting Indian culture, particularly Indian government: Wrote presciently in 1939: “perhaps it will be possible to establish a kind of ‘indirect’ government through which the Indian can effectively preserve his own organisation while articulating it with that of the rest of the country.” 1934-94 a more pluralistic albeit still paternalistic indigenismo • this was part of a larger concern “not to incorporate the Indian, but to integrate Mexico” through the building of a “great nation of pluralistic cultures linked together in a just and efficacious economic system” (Cynthia Hewitt) • This idea received growing support during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40) and remained the basis of Indian policy until the “Indian problem” presented itself in a different form in the January 1994 Maya uprising in Chiapas.
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