ASM Master Class: Putting Mexico and Modernity on the Historical Couch: From Revolution to COVID-19

ASM Master Class: Putting Mexico and Modernity on the Historical Couch: From Revolution to COVID-19

Monday, November 1, 2021


November 1, 3, 5, 10, and 12, 2021
10:00-11:30 a.m. Arizona time, via Zoom
a five-part class taught by Michael M. Brescia, Ph.D., Curator of Ethnohistory and Affiliated Professor of History and Law

With certain parts of Mexico under the violent grip of the drug cartels, not to mention the Mexican government’s erratic response to the coronavirus, it comes as no surprise that many Mexico watchers have started to label the country a “failed state,” or at least a profoundly dysfunctional one. Policy analysts and journalists scramble to uncover and interpret the so-called “Mexican psyche,” but often they do so through a lens tinted not by historical perspective but rather by immediate political or material concerns. ASM historian Michael Brescia will establish and assess the larger historical context of modern Mexican history, from the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution—the world’s first social revolution of the twentieth century—to the reemergence of populism in the early 2000s in the face of globalization and the increasing socio-economic inequality that has accompanied it. He will explore such themes as stability and uneasy transitions within Mexican political structures, the vagaries of the global economy and its effects on Mexican society, culture, and identity, as well as the multiple dynamics that have fashioned U.S.-Mexico relations since World War II. This Master Class is a sequel of sorts to the very first Master Class that Dr. Brescia developed and taught for ASM in 2018, which examined Mexican history from the late colonial period to the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920.

  • Session 1 – Introduction and Post-Revolutionary Realignments. In the first session of his Master Class, Dr. Brescia will identify and develop the conceptual framework that will inform our understanding of Mexico in the modern world, as revolutionary ideology made plenty of room for the promises of globalization and closer ties to the United States.
  • Session 2 – Politics and (Dis)Continuity under the One-Party State. Despite the establishment of the PRI as the dominant political party in Mexico in the wake of the Mexican Revolution, tensions emerged in the bureaucratic polity that governed Mexico from the late 1920s to 2000. Dr. Brescia will evaluate the various political personalities and their policies that sought to industrialize Mexico while navigating the social needs and material demands of a growing population.
  • Session 3 – The Persistence of Change in Mexican Culture and Identity. Dr. Brescia explores both the formal and popular dimensions of Mexican culture in a post-revolutionary and increasingly urbanized society seeking material progress in tandem with social justice and greater political participation. We will study the various ways in which modernity has had an impact of Mexican film, art, literature, and “identity politics.”
  • Session 4 – Mexamerica and the Blurring of International Borders. Migration of peoples has characterized North America for millennia. The establishment of human-made political borders to control, in part, the movement of peoples, goods, and ideas, however, took off and hardened with the rise of the nation-state in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the fourth session of our Master Class, Dr. Brescia seeks to identify and explain the multiple features of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands and the cultural hybridity that has emerged since the late twentieth century.
  • Session 5 – Promise and Chaos in Early Twenty-First Century Mexico. The election of Vicente Fox to the presidency in 2000 put an apparent end to one-party rule and electoral corruption. Global crises outside of Mexico’s control, however, such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession, has made the path to democratization rocky and uncertain. In this final session, Dr. Brescia provides a critical appraisal of Mexico and U.S.-Mexico relations in light of several phenomena, including immigration, drug violence, political populism, and COVID-19.


Image: “Calavera Oaxaqueña,” by José Guadalupe Posada (Mexican lithographer, 1852-1913)

$100 ASM members or $150 non members
Amount paid over $50 is a tax-deductible gift
Proceeds support Dr. Brescia's research projects
Cancelation/refund possible up to the day before the first class, minus a 3% credit card fee.

Event Contacts