Forjando lo mexicano: el pensamiento liberal en Mora, Barreda, Vasconcelos, y Monsiváis
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This dissertation analyzes the impact of European liberalism on the process of nation-building in Mexico. In particular, it studies the role of liberalism in the shaping of Mexican thought concerning national identity. It accomplishes this by examining the essayistic production of four major Mexican intellectuals: José María Luis Mora (1794-1850), Gabino Barreda (1818-1881), José Vasconcelos (1882-1959), and Carlos Monsiváis (1938-2010). This dissertation aims to explore how a program deeply rooted in European culture and thought such as liberalism shaped these intellectuals’ interpretations of Mexican culture. The dissertation will also highlight how their work coincided with their pursuit of a governmental system based on liberal principles, along with the urgent need to build a sense of national identity. The first chapter delineates a historical and conceptual framework by borrowing key ideas and definitions of liberal doctrine. Likewise, the chapter traces and contextualizes Mora’s contributions to liberal thought in Mexico during the early stages of Mexico’s independence. The second chapter centers on two periods in Mexican history: the Porfiriato (1876-1910) and the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution (1911-1921). It focuses on Porfirian views of liberal education, and on the role of the post-revolutionary state in guaranteeing social and economic progress after decades of civil and military unrest. For this purpose, the chapter studies Gabino Barreda's positivist approach to education and Jose Vasconcelos’ views on the role of the state in shaping a national post-revolutionary culture based on the figure of the mestizo: a multiracial, multicultural, national symbol. The third chapter analyzes Carlos Monsiváis' retrospective reading of liberalism in the context of the downfall of the PRI. It shows why Monsiváis rescues the legacy of Jacobin liberalism in an era of globalized neoliberalism. This chapter shows in which ways Monsiváis engages with liberalism to address the question of “lo mexicano.” The conclusion of this dissertation revisits the main ideas deployed in the three chapters and assesses the limits of liberalism to articulate the problem of national identity during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.