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Forjando Patria

Forjando Patria: Pro-Nacionalismo

Manuel Gamio
Translated and with an Introduction by Fernando Armstrong-Fumero
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Forjando Patria
    Book Description:

    Often considered the father of anthropological studies in Mexico, Manuel Gamio originally published Forjando Patria in 1916. This groundbreaking manifesto for a national anthropology of Mexico summarizes the key issues in the development of anthropology as an academic discipline and the establishment of an active field of cultural politics in Mexico. Written during the upheaval of the Mexican Revolution, the book has now been translated into English for the first time. Armstrong-Fumero's translation allows readers to develop a more nuanced understanding of this foundational work, which is often misrepresented in contemporary critical analyses. As much about national identity as anthropology, this text gives Anglophone readers access to a particular set of topics that have been mentioned extensively in secondary literature but are rarely discussed with a sense of their original context. Forjando Patria also reveals the many textual ambiguities that can lend themselves to different interpretations. The book highlights the history and development of Mexican anthropology and archaeology at a time when scholars in the United States are increasingly recognizing the importance of cross-cultural collaboration with their Mexican colleagues. It will be of interest to anthropologists and archaeologists studying the region, as well as those involved in the history of the discipline.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-041-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface: Why Forjando Patria? Why now?
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Fernando Armstrong-Fumero
  5. Translator’s Introduction: Manuel Gamio and Forjando Patria: Anthropology in Times of Revolution
    (pp. 1-19)

    In 1909 and 1926, Manuel Gamio made two crucial trips from Mexico to the United States. In the first, he arrived as a student at Franz Boas’s Department of Anthropology at Columbia, making him the first Mexican to obtain an advanced professional degree in anthropology from a foreign university. In 1926, he returned to the United States as an exile, fearing for his life in a tense climate of internal struggles that marked the years after the 1910 Mexican Revolution that ended the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. The period between these two trips across the Rio Bravo was crucial...

    (pp. 20-22)
  7. 1 Forjando Patria
    (pp. 23-24)

    In the great forge of America, on the anvil of the Andes, the bronze and iron of virile races have been alloyed for centuries and centuries.

    When the task of mixing and blending peoples came to the brown arms of Atahualpa and Moctezuma, a miraculous tie was consummated. The same blood swelled the veins of the Americans, and their intellectuality flowed through the same paths. There were small patrias: the Aztec, the Maya-Kiché, the Inca … that would later perhaps have grouped together and melded into great indigenous patrias, as the patrias of China and Japan were in the same...

  8. 2 Patrias and Nationalities of Latin America
    (pp. 25-31)

    With few exceptions, one does not find the characteristics that are inherent in a defined and integrated nationality in most Latin American countries. In these countries, there is neither a generalized idea nor a unanimous feeling of what a Patria is. Instead, there are small patrias and local nationalisms.

    This state of affairs is evident at the occasional congresses that bring together the representatives of these countries. The Second Pan-American Scientific Conference and the XIX Congress of Americanists, held in Washington, D.C., last December and January, provided an interesting and ample field in which to observe this point. As a...

  9. 3 The Department of Anthropology
    (pp. 32-35)

    It is a given that anthropology, in its true and amplest conception, should be the basic form of knowledge for good government. Through anthropology, one gains awareness of the population that is the source of both rulers and those who are ruled over. Through anthropology, one can characterize the abstract and physical nature of men and peoples and deduce the appropriate methods to facilitate their normal evolutionary development.

    Unfortunately, the necessities of the different peoples that inhabit our country have been unknown to the government and public. The same problem is evident in almost all of the Latin American countries....

  10. 4 The Redemption of the Indigenous Class
    (pp. 36-37)

    Nine years ago, the author of this book attempted to publish articles in several Mexico City newspapers to criticize the “personal contributions” or “derechos de capitación” that survived in many states of the republic as a bitter relic of long-gone encomiendas. All of the newspapers refused to comment on the issue. The author was nevertheless able to publish the following lines in the magazine Modern Mexico, which was published in New York and circulated in Mexico.

    “When I admire the great works of the Japanese people, their precocity, and inexhaustible energy, I must naturally contemplate the painful miseries that afflict...

  11. 5 Prejudices against the Indigenous Race and Its History
    (pp. 38-40)

    In The Mind of Primitive Man, an interesting work in which Dr. Franz Boas compiles his lectures from Harvard and Mexico, the chapter on racial prejudices is especially worthy of attention. The illustrious professor condemns prejudices regarding the aptitudes of different human groups and proves that the innate inferiority that is ascribed to some groups does not exist. Deficiencies in aptitude are produced by historical, biological, and geographic causes; that is, by education and environment. When these causes are changed, perceived inferiorities disappear. It is indispensable that such logical ideas should be popularized among us, as we are a nation...

  12. 6 Sociology and Government
    (pp. 41-42)

    Sociologists observe and record social phenomena with a scientific methodology, but the laws that they attempt to deduce from these data are often anything but scientific. If they were, it would be possible to predict the occurrence of different social phenomena and to ensure the well-being of peoples, something that has been attempted since the beginning of time but that has never been achieved. These problems have emerged in all of the nations where true sociological investigations have been undertaken.

    This situation is compounded in Mexico, where sociological laws have never been formulated. This is to be expected, given that...

  13. 7 Knowledge of the Population
    (pp. 43-44)

    It is not possible to determine the necessities of a people, or to seek their improvement, without knowing their statistics. Statistics is a systematic synthesis of the economic, ethnological, biological, and other characteristics of human groups. Knowing these characteristics leads to understanding the necessities of the population and how to address them. In Mexico, statistical studies have tended to focus on the quantitative evaluation of the population, almost never accounting for qualitative factors. This has been the cause for endless political failures.

    The ruler should have the sociologist as his guide, and the work of the sociologist rests on the...

  14. 8 Some Considerations on Statistics
    (pp. 45-47)

    First, statistics is a conjunction of qualitative and quantitative data that refer to the population and to its activities at home and abroad.

    Second, these data should be systematically and empirically collected so that they have legitimate value and do not falsify the result of calculations that will later be made with them.

    Third, mathematical procedures are applied such that comparisons, sums, and correlations can be drawn from these data. Groups, classes, and series will be formed. Maximums and minimums will be obtained, as well as averages, medians, and percentages and so forth. This will be expressed graphically through diagrams...

  15. 9 The Work of Art in Mexico
    (pp. 48-51)

    It seems risky to classify all of the manifestations of art that exist in Mexico—architecture, sculpture, painting, ceramics, pottery, decorative arts, and so forth. Besides being diverse and little-studied, these art forms differ in terms of their cultural origin, character, technique, and symbolic value. But by having a basic knowledge of the characteristics of Western art, examining the art of the pre-Hispanic period, and studying how the two have influenced each other, one can make the following provisional classification:

    1) The work of pre-Hispanic art;

    2) The foreign work of art;

    3) The work of traditional art that emerged...

  16. 10 The Concept of Pre-Hispanic Art
    (pp. 52-61)

    Works of art that are unearthed by archaeologists are often qualified as aesthetic or anti-aesthetic. But why they are thus qualified is almost never explained. Archaeological² art is judged subjectively, as each person thinks that it should be, and not as it is. It is prejudged, not judged, since we have not developed a real sensibility toward the archaeological work of art.

    What is artistic about pre-Hispanic artistic productions? Does an archaeological sample cease to be artistic because of the simple fact that it does not inspire us toward an aesthetic emotion that is equal to that inspired by a...

  17. 11 Art and Science in the Period of Independence
    (pp. 62-64)

    Our historians have conducted nuanced investigations regarding the social and economic innovations that followed independence from Spain. But little attention has been paid to other innovations of artistic and scientific character that took place during the same period. In the Colonial period, the Mexican population of Spanish origin was similar to the people of Spain in most respects. In Mexico as in Spain, art had attained an evolutionary development that was far in advance of the scientific knowledge of the same period. A profusion of anonymous artists existed for every Hernandez or Alzate¹ who made his sporadic contributions to scientific...

  18. 12 Department of Fine Arts
    (pp. 65-66)

    In Mexico today, there are a great many directorates and institutes: the Department of Public Works, the Geological Institute, the Medical Institute, and so on and so on. There is not, however, a Department of Fine Arts. If it is well and good that special institutions exist for the cultivation of the sciences, is it not logical that art should also have its altars or worshippers in Mexico?

    In almost all countries, art offers the supreme expression and ultimate essence of human activities. The same does not happen in Mexico. In this marvelous country, where we all believe ourselves to...

  19. 13 There Is No Prehistory!
    (pp. 67-69)

    Such an affirmation can be made unequivocally, without fear of being contradicted. There has been no lack of hypotheses about the existence of prehistoric man in Mexico. Peñon Man, Tequixquiac Man, Chapala Man, and who knows how many other fabulous men have been proposed for intellectual debate. But a scientific naïveté that was forgivable a quarter-century ago is inadmissible and ridiculous today.

    Fortunately, the sin was not ours alone. Many researchers insisted until recently that there was a prehistoric American man. The most famous among them, Ameghino,¹ dedicated the greater part of his life to demonstrating the presence of that...

  20. 14 Synthetic Concept of Archaeology
    (pp. 70-71)

    For some, archaeology is nothing more than a way of passing the time. Archaeological investigations are a way of determining if Moctezuma wore rope or leather sandals on his feet, or of knowing if Cuauhtémoc did his own “manicure” or entrusted this to bronzed “toiletistes.” Other wags whisper that archaeologists hunt for a depository of Toltec “unfalsifiables,” as they cannot believe that a serious man would find interest in unearthing a bunch of stones with “monkeys” and hieroglyphics on them. There are also those who think that our antiquities should be preserved “just because” or “because they are pretty.” Unfortunately,...

  21. 15 The Values of History
    (pp. 72-79)

    Values of history—it seems to us that history has two values: the speculative and the transcendent. History is essentially the collection of information about the nature, origin, character evolution, and tendencies of past civilizations. When this information exists passively in libraries or in the minds of men, the value of history is only theoretical. But history offers a transcendent value if we think of it as a copious archive, as an inexhaustible fountain of the experiences through which humanity has reached its diverse stages of florescence and decadence. This is especially the case when we use those experiences to...

  22. 16 Revision of the Latin American Constitutions
    (pp. 80-82)

    We have noted how the legislative bodies of the future should pay greater attention to the anthropological study of the populations that they govern. In this way, the constitution and general laws of the country can provide the most efficient and authoritative means with which to meet the needs and seek the well-being of the population. This should be the only objective of any constitution. It was also noted that individuals of Indian race, or those in whom that blood predominates, constitute the great majority of the national population. The rest of the population is made up of individuals of...

  23. 17 Our Laws and Our Legislators
    (pp. 83-85)

    In the previous chapter, we discussed one of the propositions that the Mexican delegation presented before the Second Pan-American Scientific Congress that took place in Washington, D.C., which was the convenience of revising and reforming the constitutions and laws of Latin American countries. In this chapter, we will refer to the qualities required of our legislators, so that they may conscientiously develop their lofty task.

    With very few exceptions, the legislative bodies of Mexico have been composed of individuals who represent the inhabitants of their respective political entities in a theoretical or nominal manner. Mexico City and the other political...

  24. 18 Politics and Its Values
    (pp. 86-89)

    The success of any enterprise, the efficiency of any work, requires that it be composed of basic elements that have real value. In order for the collaboration of political parties in the recently reconstructed government to be useful and efficient, it is necessary for those parties to possess a practical, positive value. If our older notions of politics are to persist, it is better that political parties not reemerge.

    In general, our professional politicians have been of little value in and of themselves. They have lacked individual efficiency. Their true character becomes evident in exile, where all of those who...

  25. 19 Our Religious Transition
    (pp. 90-92)

    When a people is subjugated, it is relatively easy for the conquerors to impose new art, new industries, new customs, and other manifestations of culture. But it is very difficult and time-consuming to make the conquered accept new religious ideas. Since its origins on the arid hill of Calvary, Christianity was imposed on paganism and Judaism at the cost of torrents of blood. The reformist sects achieved triumph after running through many thorny paths and leaving a trail of martyrs behind them. Almost all religious transitions have had some bloody Saint Bartholomew as their price. Why was the transition from...

  26. 20 Our Catholics
    (pp. 93-95)

    The immense majority of our population professes Catholicism, without admitting argument or doubt. Unfortunately, not all of us are sensibly Catholic. In Mexico, there are three types of Catholics: Pagan Catholics, True Catholics, and Utilitarian Catholics.

    Although they are the majority, they constitute the intellectually and socially inferior elements of the population. It would require them twenty, fifty, or more years to acquire the religion, language, and culture that are indispensable for their incorporation into civilization. We will cite a few relevant cases of this mixed religion. In the Sierra de Zongolica in the State of Veracruz, spread along the...

  27. 21 Our Intellectual Culture
    (pp. 96-102)

    Our manifestations of culture have traditionally been irregular, particularly in the fine arts and the social sciences. That deficiency has two primary causes. First, there is the ethnic heterogeneity of our population, which means that there is not a truly national environment for harmonic and defined intellectual production. The second cause is the feudal intellectualism, which has always developed amongst us in a way parallel to governmental exclusivism. We will examine these two causes of our intellectual stagnation.

    The population of Mexico is formed by three classes or groups, each of which is clearly defined by its ethnic, social, and...

  28. 22 The Concept of Culture
    (pp. 103-107)

    Culture … civilization … progress… . What absolute or even relative value can one attribute to these terms? Overcoming the inevitable sensation of sloth that comes with the anticipation of muscular exertion, we went to leaf through the several pounds of paper with which the Royal Academy fixes and gives splendor to the language of Cervantes. But in the end, we changed our mind, and the respectable hulk remained untouched and serene on its cedar shelf. Such a consultation would have given us an academic definition of these terms, or a Spanish one, or one pertinent to all of Europe....

  29. 23 Language and Our Country
    (pp. 108-109)

    Some time ago, the feasibility and convenience of purifying and standardizing the ways that we speak and write the Spanish language were discussed at great length. The attempt was laudable in that it embodied a cultural goal but was illogical and impossible. Here, we will not occupy ourselves with the numerous indigenous languages and dialects that are spoken in Mexico. Rather, we will contend with the diversity of our Spanishes. Our Spanish is the Spanish of Yucatán, which is a Maya-Spanish; the Spanish of the high plateaus, which is influenced by Aztec and Otomí; that of Sonora, which is mixed...

  30. 24 National Literature
    (pp. 110-114)

    These lines do not pretend to be didactic or to conceal an attempt at erudite criticism. They are a superficial attempt to present general observations about our national literature. That fatal xenophilic orientation that has prevailed in Mexico, our servile fidelity to foreign academic opinions, that whole false gospel to which we offer worship rather than to truth and common sense, has caused our general concept of national literature to suffer from great deficiencies.

    The Royal Academy says that literature is “the genre of productions of human understanding that has as its immediate or remote goal to express the beautiful...

  31. 25 Our Women
    (pp. 115-125)

    Nationals and foreigners alike unanimously praise the exceptional virtues of the Mexican woman. We no longer live in the good times when mana fell from heaven to feed the chosen peoples or when the waves of the ocean formed barriers to the passage of their enemies. Thus, we should analyze the natural causes that make our women one of the most appreciable and appreciated moral types in the contemporary female world, instead of seeing her predilections as miraculous.

    In any country, there are three classes of women: servile, feminist, and feminine. The servile woman is she who is born and...

  32. 26 The National Seal
    (pp. 126-130)

    The adoption of ideographic/symbolic representations that characterize national virtues is one of the oldest of human conventions. A flag and seal synthesize what a nation is or believes itself to be. The colors of a flag symbolize the true virtues of a race: noble valor, honor, purity, hope. The characteristics represented on national seals are more ambiguous virtues. Boldness and even ferocity are proclaimed on almost all national seals: the British and Spanish lions, the Chinese dragon, the Ecuadorian condor, the heraldic eagles of so many countries. All of those bloody images, made in gold and inlays on fields of...

  33. 27 Capacity for Work
    (pp. 131-132)

    The question of capital’s relationship to labor is debated in most countries, and no one has reached a satisfactory conclusion to date. Recent strikes in the United States, England, and Spain can be cited as a consequence of this difficult problem. The resolution of such problems in Mexico involves even greater difficulties, since the characteristics and historical heritage of our laborers have never been properly studied.

    It is indispensable that capitalists know the “capacity for work” of their employees. This is necessary in order to calculate just salaries for those who have just been employed in new businesses and to...

  34. 28 Our National Industry
    (pp. 133-137)

    Whether or not we choose to emulate Leroy-Beaulieu,¹ we can examine data on imports and exports in our country and see that our industry is very deficient. We have inexhaustible reserves of the metals that give life to modern industry: iron, copper, lead, antimony. There is an abundance of fuel: wood, charcoal, coal, petroleum, gaseous hydrocarbons. Materials for construction abound: marble, multicolored marble, onyx, polychrome limestones. So do precious materials like gold and silver. We also possess earth for ceramics and glass: red and white clay and silicates, precious stones (pearls, turquoise, emeralds, and opals). Our numerous fibers include henequen,...

  35. 29 Of Yankee and Mexican Metalism
    (pp. 138-140)

    We call the United States the Country of the Dollar. Ironically, these words do not refer to the proverbial wealth of that republic but to the way of being of its inhabitants, whose goals in life we unjustly consider to be unspiritual, utilitarian, and materialist—“metallized” to the exclusion of any altruistic motive. Were other countries to qualify the United States in this way, it would still be an exaggeration. It might even be forgiven if those critics had virtues that those whom they criticize do not. But we should remember the proverb about the splinter in the neighbor’s eye,...

  36. 30 Spain and the Spanish
    (pp. 141-144)

    I do not suffer from acute Hispanophilia. I do not come to defend Spain or her children, who do not lack pens or brains that would let them do so themselves. I am a Mexicanist. I began doing works for nationalism some time ago, and continue to do so. I am beyond suspicion. Therefore, I speak to all for the sake of our faulty common sense. Why, O why are there people who persecute the Spanish systematically, unjustly, and unnecessarily? People who declare that this Spaniard over here, and that one and that one over there, and all Spaniards everywhere...

  37. 31 Integral Education
    (pp. 145-147)

    It has often been preached that our national well-being and the greatness of the patria depend on the literacy of all Mexicans. However, we do not believe that education can produce such miracles if it is not accompanied by other complementary factors, such as the political, economic, and ethnic fusion to which we refer in this book. The isolated injections of literacy that have until now been applied to the Mexican population have been almost useless, because parallel attention was not conceded to the superior stages of education. One should only ask the thousands of our countrymen who have learned...

  38. 32 The Editorial Department
    (pp. 148-150)

    In Mexico, there are readers who are apt for the most ample and select literary production, be it European, North American, or Mexican. There is also a disappointing majority that ignores the alphabet. This apparent anomaly could be explained in many ways, but we will refer the following lines to the lack of literary dissemination that has always been notable among us. We have often heard individuals who have recently learned to read say that their hard-won knowledge has proved to be impractical and useless to them. When, for lack of books, one cannot read anything more advanced than the...

  39. 33 Revolution
    (pp. 151-153)

    Revolution is not, as it was considered by medieval Catholics, a divine scourge. Nor is it the favorite means of propaganda that Satan has adopted in our times. These characterizations might be applied in the European context, where the number of victims is infinitely greater and where the means of extermination are more modern, numerous, and efficient. Revolution does not represent the vengeful arm of God that purges the gangrene and corruptions of dictatorships and tyrannies. Let us respect divinity and not attribute to it any role in the destruction of human creatures that wars and revolutions bring with them....

  40. 34 Three Nationalist Problems
    (pp. 154-163)

    Three nationalist problems deserve special mention because of their current importance and future transcendence, even if they pass unperceived by the masses.

    The Mayas of Quintana Roo, like the Lacandónes of Chiapas, the Maya of the Petén, and a few other groups that are called savages, are indigenous people that live in almost the same state in which their ancestors were surprised by the Conquest. They have never known Spanish or any aspect of the civilization imported from Europe. They have only assimilated the use of firearms, iron utensils, and alcohol. This last factor is a sad legacy that surely...

  41. Summary
    (pp. 164-164)
  42. Works Cited
    (pp. 165-171)
  43. Index
    (pp. 172-176)