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Collecting Mexico

Collecting Mexico: Museums, Monuments, and the Creation of National Identity

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Collecting Mexico
    Book Description:

    Collecting Mexico centers on the ways in which aesthetics and commercialism intersected in officially sanctioned public collections and displays in late nineteenth-century Mexico. Shelley E. Garrigan reconstructs the lineage of institutionally collected objects around which a modern Mexican identity was negotiated, demonstrating the ways in which displayed objects become linked with nationalistic meaning and why they exert such persuasive force.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8015-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    At the close of the Paris World’s Fair of 1889‚ an exchange of cultural goods was negotiated between the founder and director of the Musée d’ Ethnographie du Trocadéro of France and the chief Mexican fair commissioner. With his eye on the mannequins in the Mexican pavilion that had been fashioned to represent particular indigenous races‚ French anthropologist Dr. Ernest Théodore Hamy petitioned for the “donation or exchange” of these life-size models to form part of a permanent exhibit in the French museum. “Books or other objects” were offered as tentative compensations. After an unspecified number of conferences between the...

  4. 1 Fine Art and Demand: Debating the Mexican National Canon, 1876–1910
    (pp. 29-64)

    One of the primary arenas in which consumer demand had a marked impact on the shape and development of a national canon was the fine arts. Note the following patron’s perspective as he navigates his entrance into the Academia de San Carlos¹ in 1891:

    I humbly gave my obolus—a ten cent coin that a person who was neither very kind nor very attractive demands at the doors of the Academia—and I entered the art sanctuary‚ desiring to experience at my ease‚ [although] confused among the motley crowd that invaded the salons‚ the aesthetic emotion of the beautiful.²


  5. 2 Our Archaeology: Science, Citizenry, Patrimony, and the Museum
    (pp. 65-106)

    By the close of the nineteenth century in the Americas and Europe, the museum institution constituted a common reference point for the symbolic justification of a nation and culture. As such‚ the Mexican Museo Nacional is a particularly charged venue through which to discover the strategies employed by a nation that faced the task of reclaiming its archaeological heritage from a long history of cultural expropriation. Mexico’s prolonged experience of cultural loss through patrimonial confiscation involved both the depletion of important historical artifacts by the Spanish colonizers and foreign explorers and the figurative ownership over pre-Columbian antiquities as exercised in...

  6. 3 The Hidden Lives of Historical Monuments: Commerce, Fashion, and Memorial
    (pp. 107-134)

    If the “unintentional monument‚” as Alöis Riegl termed the archaeological object in 1903‚¹ attracts the spectator’s attention based on the historical secrets that it contains‚ then what of the unabashed exposure represented by the intentional monument? A proliferation in public monument construction in Mexico (and Europe) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries supplements the archaeological object in the pursuit of symbolic capital. The repertoire of heroes that formed in the nation’s major cities through monument production encompasses both pre- and postnational Mexican histories‚ aligning them into a coherent trajectory that implies a thematically unified story. In direct contrast...

  7. 4 Collections at the World’s Fair: Rereading Mexico in Paris, 1889
    (pp. 135-152)

    Held approximately every two to four years between the first large international exposition (at the Crystal Palace in England‚ 1851) and World War I‚ the late-nineteenth-century world’s fair events helped construct a Western paradigm focused on modernity and progress. The most imposing‚ the most propagated‚ and the most influential international constructions of the late nineteenth century were the world’s fair expositions‚ which‚ as precursors to the age of globalization‚ offered a medium for the creation of commercial relationships among competing nations and also for the international transmission of information and culture. The fairs were spectacular instruments of mass communication‚ modeling...

  8. 5 Collecting Numbers: Statistics and the Constructive Force of Deficiency
    (pp. 153-176)

    One of the less obvious mediums through which the Mexican Porfiriato constructed and disseminated an image of nation during the late nineteenth century‚ observes Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo inMexico at the World’s Fairs‚ was through statistical representation. An offspring of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution‚ the practice of statistics had undergone a transition in function from a descriptive role in geographical studies to a directive one when applied to the social and administrative realms as informed by disciplines such as criminology‚ hygiene‚ mortality education‚ agricultural production‚ and communications.¹

    Simultaneously descriptive and solicitous‚ the display of statistical tables allowed the Porfirian...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 177-182)

    This book is the product of a set of questions that occurred to me as a graduate student in Latin American literature after taking seminars on the processes of Latin American modernization. Material references abounded in themodernistapoetry and prose that we read. Particularly interesting to me was the figure of the fictional collector that surfaces inmodernistaliterature‚ such as José Fernández in José Asunción Silva’sDe sobremesa‚ whose exquisite collections embodied the intersection of (internationally) traversed and (locally) inhabited spaces within the domestic setting of late-nineteenth-centuryfin de sigloculture.

    When I turned to real collectors and...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 183-184)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 185-206)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-214)
  13. Index
    (pp. 215-233)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 234-234)