Muralism and Indigenismo

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					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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