Presenting rowdy, raunchy, and violent life histories from the archives, Martin Austin Nesvig reveals that the local colonizers of Michoac‡n were primarily motivated by personal gain, emboldened by the lack of oversight from the upper echelons of power, and thoroughly committed to their own corporate memberships. His findings challenge some of the most deeply held views of the Spanish colonization of Mexico, including the Black Legend, which asserts that the royal state and the institutional church colluded to produce a powerful Catholicism that crushed heterodoxy, punished cultural difference, and ruined indigenous worlds. Instead, Nesvig finds that Michoac‡nÑtypical of many frontier provinces of the empireÑbecame a region of refuge from imperial and juridical control and formal Catholicism, where the ordinary rules of law, jurisprudence, and royal oversight collapsed in the entropy of decentralized rule.
A diverse collection of more than eighty selections, The Mexico Reader brings together poetry, folklore, fiction, polemics, photoessays, songs, political cartoons, memoirs, satire, and scholarly writing. Many pieces are by Mexicans, and a substantial number appear for the first time in English. Works by Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes are included along with pieces about such well-known figures as the larger-than-life revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata; there is also a comminiqué from a more recent rebel, Subcomandante Marcos. At the same time, the book highlights the perspectives of many others—indigenous peoples, women, politicians, patriots, artists, soldiers, rebels, priests, workers, peasants, foreign diplomats, and travelers.
The Mexico Reader explores what it means to be Mexican, tracing the history of Mexico from pre-Columbian times through the country’s epic revolution (1910–17) to the present day. The materials relating to the latter half of the twentieth century focus on the contradictions and costs of postrevolutionary modernization, the rise of civil society, and the dynamic cross-cultural zone marked by the two thousand-mile Mexico-U.S. border. The editors have divided the book into several sections organized roughly in chronological order and have provided brief historical contexts for each section. They have also furnished a lengthy list of resources about Mexico, including websites and suggestions for further reading.