A. S. DillinghamSep 28, 2021
Indigeneity, Development, and Inequality in Twentieth-Century Mexico
Stanford University Press 2021
Oaxaca, in the view of the Mexican federal government, was in need of serious reform at midcentury. Reports detailing issues of land ownership, language education, and poverty prompted the Institutio Nacional Indigenista (INI) to pursue a number of reforms to integrate Oaxaca and its people into the nation. But where federal policy met local practice, Indigenous Oaxacans had their own ideas and aims for their future in Mexico and the world. The teachers, thinkers, and communities that took indigenista policy into their own hands are the focus of historian A.S. Dillingham's new book, Oaxaca Resurgent: Indigeneity, Development, and Inequality in Twentieth-Century Mexico (Stanford University Press, 2021).
Dillingham combines federal documents with ethnographic materials to understand how twentieth-century Oaxacans - especially those connected to education initiatives - navigated the "double bind of indigenismo" that defined state indigenista policy in Mexico. In this "double bind," Indigenous peoples were at once celebrated and singled out as objects to be remade according to national interests. Challenging some federal projects while leveraging others, Oaxacans pursued their own educational initiatives and, in doing so, became critical agents of global anticolonial politics. An insightful engagement with Indigeneity, education, and development, Oaxaca Resurgent makes a strong case for the power and scope of Oaxacan radicalism through the twenty-first century.
Annabel LaBrecque is a PhD student in the Department of History at UC Berkeley. You can find her on Twitter @labrcq.