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Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

Matthew Butler

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780197262986
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734656 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197262986.001.0001

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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This book provides a new interpretation of the cristero war (1926–29), which divided Mexico's peasantry into rival camps loyal to the Catholic Church (cristero) or the Revolution (agrarista). It puts religion at the heart of our understanding of the revolt by showing how peasant allegiances often resulted from genuinely popular cultural and religious antagonisms. The book challenges the assumption that Mexican peasants in the 1920s shared religious outlooks and that their behaviour was mainly driven by political and material factors. Focusing on the state of Michoacán in western-central Mexico, it seeks to integrate both cultural and structural lines of inquiry. First charting the uneven character of Michoacán's historical formation in the late colonial period and the nineteenth century, the book shows how the emergence of distinct agrarian regimes and political cultures was later associated with varying popular responses to post-revolutionary state formation in the areas of educational and agrarian reform. At the same time, it is argued that these structural trends were accompanied by increasingly clear divergences in popular religious cultures, including lay attitudes to the clergy, patterns of religious devotion and deviancy, levels of sacramental participation, and commitment to militant ‘social’ Catholicism. As peasants in different communities developed distinct parish identities, so the institutional conflict between Church and state acquired diverse meanings and provoked violently contradictory popular responses. Thus the fires of revolt burned all the more fiercely because they inflamed a countryside that — then as now — was deeply divided in matters of faith.

Keywords: cristero war; Mexican peasants; Catholic Church; agrarista; revolt; peasant allegiances; Mexico; Michoacán; agrarian reform; religious devotion

Book.  272 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Religion in the Cristero Revolt in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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East Michoacán from the Conquest to the Revolution in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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Sowing New Seeds, Ploughing Old Furrows: Agrarismo, 1915–29 in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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Meeting the Missionaries: Rural Education, 1920–9 in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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Peter, Mary, and Jack: Parish Life, 1920–5 in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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Into the Catacombs: Crisis and Persecution, 1926–9 in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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The Cristero Rebellion, 1926–9 in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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Conclusion in Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion

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