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Thread of Blood: Colonialism Revolution and Gender on Mexico’s Northern Frontier Ana María Alonso University of Arizona Press


30th April 2011 History Books 3 Comments

“This is a most readable volume and would be useful to persons interested in Mexican history and border studies. It would also serve as a good introduction to the study of gender and power relations in anthropology.” Heritage “A study of violence in its social and historical context . . . The examples and evidence that Alonso uses to support her case are so vivid and telling that the book is sure to intrigue both students and scholars of the Mexican Revolution.” The Historian “She invites us to observe the dance of war, honor, ethnic and gender fury in the Chihuahuan village of Namiquipa. Central to this work is her insightful grasp of the complex series of equations and oppositions involved in developing a specific version of masculinity.” American Historical Review “A significant contribution to the historical anthropology of northern Mexico. I learned a great deal of history and was enlightened by the anthropological discourse the author brought to its telling.” Journal of American History

This book is about the construction and tranformation of peasant military colonists on Mexico’s northern frontier from the late 18th through the early 20th century. Though the majority of the data comes from the pueblo of Namiquipa in the state of Chihuahua, the argument has broader implications for the study of northern Mexico, frontier societies, and our understanding of the northern armies in the 1910 Revolution. The study is rare for its integration of several levels, placing an analysis of gender and ethnicity within a specific historical period. The author demonstrates that a distinct kind of frontier serrano society was generated in Namiquipa between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries. In exchange for keeping the Apaches at bay, colonists were provided with arms and land grants. At the same time, they developed a gendered sense of ethnic identity that equated honor with land, autonomy, and a kind of masculinity that distinguished the “civilized” colonist from the “barbarous” Indian. While this identity was itself ordered hierarchically between men and women, and between “Hispanic” and “Indian,” it also provided serranos with a sense of pride and dignity that was not directly associated with wealth. After the defeat of the Apaches, and with increased state control during the last decades of the Porfiriato, the serranos on the frontier were transformed from bulwarks of order to victims of progress. The expansion of capitalism and the manipulation of local political office by men no longer accountable to communal norms eroded the legitimacy of both powerholders and the central state. In response, serranos constructed an ideology of history based on past notions of masculine honor and autonomy. This ideology motivated their confrontations with the Mexican state during the 1890s and also served as the force behind their mobilization in the 1910 revolution. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

This book is about the construction and tranformation of peasant military colonists on Mexico’s northern frontier from the late 18th through the early 20th century. Though the majority of the data comes from the pueblo of Namiquipa in the state of Chihuahua, the argument has broader implications for the study of northern Mexico, frontier societies, and our understanding of the northern armies in the 1910 Revolution. The study is rare for its integration of several levels, placing an analysis of gender and ethnicity within a specific historical period. The author demonstrates that a distinct kind of frontier serrano society was generated in Namiquipa between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries. In exchange for keeping the Apaches at bay, colonists were provided with arms and land grants. At the same time, they developed a gendered sense of ethnic identity that equated honor with land, autonomy, and a kind of masculinity that distinguished the “civilized” colonist from the “barbarous” Indian. While this identity was itself ordered hierarchically between men and women, and between “Hispanic” and “Indian,” it also provided serranos with a sense of pride and dignity that was not directly associated with wealth. After the defeat of the Apaches, and with increased state control during the last decades of the Porfiriato, the serranos on the frontier were transformed from bulwarks of order to victims of progress. The expansion of capitalism and the manipulation of local political office by men no longer accountable to communal norms eroded the legitimacy of both powerholders and the central state. In response, serranos constructed an ideology of history based on past notions of masculine honor and autonomy. This ideology motivated their confrontations with the Mexican state during the 1890s and also served as the force behind their mobilization in the 1910 revolution.

“This is a most readable volume and would be useful to persons interested in Mexican history and border studies. It would also serve as a good introduction to the study of gender and power relations in anthropology.” Heritage “A study of violence in its social and historical context . . . The examples and evidence that Alonso uses to support her case are so vivid and telling that the book is sure to intrigue both students and scholars of the Mexican Revolution.” The Historian “She invites us to observe the dance of war, honor, ethnic and gender fury in the Chihuahuan village of Namiquipa. Central to this work is her insightful grasp of the complex series of equations and oppositions involved in developing a specific version of masculinity.” American Historical Review “A significant contribution to the historical anthropology of northern Mexico. I learned a great deal of history and was enlightened by the anthropological discourse the author brought to its telling.” Journal of American History

Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico’s Northern Frontier (Hegemony and Experience)

Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

This translation of a major work in Mexican anthropology argues that Mesoamerican civilization is an ongoing and undeniable force in contemporary Mexican life. For Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, the remaining Indian communities, the “de-Indianized” rural mestizo communities, and vast sectors of the poor urban population constitute the Mxico profundo. Their lives and ways of understanding the world continue to be rooted in Mesoamerican civilization. An ancient agricultural complex provides their food supply, and work is understood as a way of maintaining a harmonious relationship with the natural world. Health is related to human conduct, and community service is often part of each individual’s life obligation. Time is circular, and humans fulfill their own cycle in relation to other cycles of the universe. Since the Conquest, Bonfil argues, the peoples of the Mxico profundo have been dominated by an “imaginary Mxico” imposed by the West. It is imaginary not because it does not exist, but because it denies the cultural reality lived daily by most Mexicans. Within the Mxico profundo there exists an enormous body of accumulated knowledge, as well as successful patterns for living together and adapting to the natural world. To face the future successfully, argues Bonfil, Mexico must build on these strengths of Mesoamerican civilization, “one of the few original civilizations that humanity has created throughout all its history.”

Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization










  • 3 responses to "Thread of Blood: Colonialism Revolution and Gender on Mexico’s Northern Frontier Ana María Alonso University of Arizona Press"

  • John Leung
    20:42 on May 1st, 2011
    Reply to comment

    This book is very informative and gives great detail about the indigenous influences and its negation in Mexican history.

  • bcasler
    7:34 on May 4th, 2011
    Reply to comment

    This book helps us understand our own identity issues. Great book, great narrative. Very engaging. Once you start reading, you can’t stop.

  • RattyUK
    19:01 on May 4th, 2011
    Reply to comment

    México Profundo is a must-read for anyone attempting to understand the complexities and contradictions found throughout Latin American in general, and within Mexican culture, specifically. The book is written in a clear, direct and eloquent manner that gets to the core of present-day Mexico’s predicament.

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