Chapter

Building the Porfirian state: administrative centralization, Indian communities and the ‘reinvention of tradition’

Sarah Washbrook

in Producing Modernity in Mexico

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780197264973
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754128 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264973.003.0006

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Building the Porfirian state: administrative centralization, Indian communities and the ‘reinvention of tradition’

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This chapter aims to improve our understanding of political modernization and state formation in Porfirian Chiapas ‘from below’, explaining specifically how the regime consolidated power within the Indian communities in order to carry out policies aimed at strengthening the national state and developing the export economy. The first section looks at the role of schoolteachers in secular state-building and the development of commercial agriculture from around 1855 until 1910. The second section examines the relationship between the jefaturas políticas, caciquismo, and forced labour, particularly in the export sector. The final section analyzes the impact of centralization and the role of coercion and consent in political and economic relationships in central and northern Chiapas. It argues that the Porfirian state achieved considerable hegemony by penetrating and manipulating ‘traditional’ structures of power in the countryside in order to consolidate the regime and modernize the economy.

Keywords: political modernization; state formation; Chiapas; Porfirian regime; schoolteachers; secular state-building; commercial agriculture; jefaturas políticas; caciquismo; forced labour

Chapter.  16047 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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