Nicole von GermetenJan 31, 2023
The Enlightened Patrolman
Early Law Enforcement in Mexico City
University of Nebraska Press 2022
When late eighteenth-century New Spanish viceregal administrators installed public lamps in the streets of central Mexico City, they illuminated the bodies of Indigenous, Afro-descended, and plebeian Spanish urbanites. The urban patrolmen, known as guarda faroleros, or “lantern guards,” maintained the streetlamps and attempted to clear the streets of plebeian sexuality, embodiment, and sociability, all while enforcing late colonial racial policies amid frequent violent resistance from the populace.
In The Enlightened Patrolman: Early Law Enforcement in Mexico City (University of Nebraska Press, 2022) Nicole von Germeten guides readers through Mexico City’s efforts to envision and impose modern values as viewed through the lens of early law enforcement, an accelerated process of racialization of urban populations, and burgeoning ideas of modern masculinity. Germeten unfolds a tale of the losing struggle for elite control of the city streets. As surveillance increased and the populace resisted violently, a pause in the march toward modernity ensued. The Enlightened Patrolman presents an innovative study on the history of this very early law enforcement corps, providing new insight into the history of masculinity and race in Mexico, as well as the eighteenth-century origins of policing in the Americas.
Ethan Besser Fredrick is a graduate student in Modern Latin American history seeking his PhD at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on the Transatlantic Catholic movements in Mexico and Spain during the early 20th century.