Class Notes 9/4/2019

We began class with a few questions about the primary source essay, some notes about that:

  1. When quoting Spanish sources, it is not necessary to translate anything from the quote itself.
  2. You’re welcome (and encouraged) to use more than one supplementary source in addition to the chosen primary source.

We then received Kate’s presentation on an archaeological sacrificial site in Peru with children’s and llamas’ remains thought to have come about to avert the impending El Niño storm. This brought to mind perceptions of indigenous sacrifice (especially that of children) by the dominant Western European culture in the world.

We then reviewed something that was left out of the previous class due to time, which was the application of DeFronzo’s revolutionary framework onto the Mexican Revolution. However, we noted that it isn’t ethical to cherry pick evidence and force a certain framework onto a given subject, and were also trying to find ways that DeFronzo couldn’t sufficiently explain the Mexican Revolution. We supplied the following:

Mass frustration – economic depression, land ownership (and lack thereof), elites also dissatisfied & angered when Díaz goes back on promises

Permissive world context – Madero’s promises to foreign governments and corporations in the Plan of San Luis Potosí (p. 36 Wasserman), (mention of) the Zimmermann Telegram, and port blockades performed by the US in Veracruz and other cities

Unifying motivations – Madero as a figure, though this was very short lived (only weeks before insurrection)

Elite divisions – argument over Díaz’ succession between científicos and generals

Political crisis – the election to be held by Díaz (surely to be rigged)

We then spent time elaborating the concept of an ejido: a communally owned and operated piece of land in the context of Mexico, as mentioned by Zapata in the Plan of Ayala (p. 39). This is important because the concept had existed in indigenous communities and, being owned by families, was easier to buy out. Especially after the Marxist Revolution in Russia and the onset of global communist sentiments, it took on a convenient use in Latin American communist circles. Professor Holt mentioned an article by the New York Times in which the same idea of family-owned lands and homes are targeted and bought out by those who hold power; in this context, Black. She’s posted it on the home page.

We broke out into groups to go over the HAP, but ran out of time before we could return to discussion as a class. My group spent time discussing the Plan of San Luis Potosí from Madero as a primary source and the concept of democracy in Latin America in general, as well as how it’s historically been received as a proposed system. Professor Holt brought up a point about a popular argument used by white Europeans and those of European decent in Latin America being that democracy should be reserved for white spheres and that the indigenous mixing in Latin America makes it unachievable.

Further links:

  1. Brief summaries of a work, “Indigenous People and Democracy in Latin America” by Donna Lee Van Cott.
  2. A little more on the Chimú people, who would’ve performed the sacrifices mentioned in Kate’s article. They inhabited the western coast of Peru before they were conquered by the Inca.
  3. This is a pretty unique piece written about the experience of the authors in trying to establish a joint venture between a US company and an ejido in southern Mexico. It speaks on the background of ejidos in the country and some statistics on the status of them at the time of being written (1998). Consider why this interaction is being cast in a positive light, and whose voices are being showcased (politically, socioeconomically, concerning gender, etc.) and whose are not.


  1. Can you think of ways that DeFronzo’s framework falters when applying it to the Mexican Revolution?
  2. The Mexican Revolution is often framed as being pushed by a single underlying cause or sentiment, when in reality it was a tumultuous and complex event with many different players and motivations. How could different political groups frame the revolution to their benefit in the years after (even today)?
  3. As shown by Wasserman, Díaz announced a plan to hold an election even though he held practically total power within the country. Parallels can be drawn between this and Pinochet’s decision to hold a plebiscite the 1980’s Chile. What motivations would Díaz have for doing this?