"Assimilating the Primitive": Parallel Dialogues on Racial Miscegenation in Revolutionary Mexico

by Kelley R. Swarthout


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This book examines the Mexican nationalist rhetoric that promoted race mixing as a cultural ideal, placing it within its broader contemporary polemic between vitalist and scientific thought. Part of its analysis compares the attitudes of anthropologist Manuel Gamio and educator José Vasconcelos with those of the European primitivist D. H. Lawrence, and concludes that although Gamio and Vasconcelos made lasting contributions to the construction of popular notions of mexicanidad, their paradigms were fatally flawed because they followed European prescriptions for the development of national identity. This ultimately reinforced the belief that indigenous cultural expression must be assimilated into the dominant mestizo culture in order for Mexico to progress. Consequently, these thinkers were unsuccessful in resolving the cultural dilemma Mexico suffered in the years immediately following the Revolution.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820463223
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
Publication date: 02/26/2004
Series: Latin America Series: Interdisciplinary Studies , #8
Pages: 179
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

The Author: Kelley R. Swarthout is Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. She received her Ph.D. in Latin American literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Table of Contents

List of Tablesvii
Chapter 1The Theory1
Primitivism as a Western Construct1
Science, Race, and the Nation8
The Vitalist Opposition to Science16
Chapter 2The History27
Mestizaje: Mexico's National Myth27
The Emergence of Racial Hybridity29
Envisioning a Mestizo Middle Class52
The Birth of Mexican Cultural Nationalism66
Chapter 3The Dialogue89
Scientificism vs. Vitalism in Revolutionary Mexico89
Manuel Gamio and Scientific Indigenism95
Jose Vasconcelos and the Spiritual Renovation of Mexican Culture105
D.H. Lawrence's American Journey: A Pilgrimage to the "Indian Source"123
Epilogue: Toward a Postmodern Mexican Identity153

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