Tanalís Padilla, "Unintended Lessons of Revolution: Student Teachers and Political Radicalism in Twentieth-Century Mexico" (Duke UP, 2021)


In the 1920s, Mexico established rural normales—boarding schools that trained teachers in a new nation-building project. Drawn from campesino ranks and meant to cultivate state allegiance, their graduates would facilitate land distribution, organize civic festivals, and promote hygiene campaigns. In Unintended Lessons of Revolution: Student Teachers and Political Radicalism in Twentieth-Century Mexico (Duke University Press, 2021), Tanalís Padilla traces the history of the rural normales, showing how they became sites of radical politics. As Padilla demonstrates, the popular longings that drove the Mexican Revolution permeated these schools. By the 1930s, ideas about land reform, education for the poor, community leadership, and socialism shaped their institutional logic. Over the coming decades, the tensions between state consolidation and revolutionary justice produced a telling contradiction: the very schools meant to constitute a loyal citizenry became hubs of radicalization against a government that increasingly abandoned its commitment to social justice. Crafting a story of struggle and state repression, Padilla illuminates education's radical possibilities and the nature of political consciousness for youths whose changing identity—from campesinos, to students, to teachers—speaks to Mexico’s twentieth-century transformations.

Brad Wright is an historian of Latin America specializing in postrevolutionary Mexico. I teach world history at Kennesaw State University currently. PhD in Public History with specialization in oral history. My research interests include post-1968 Mexico, the urban popular movement, Christian base communities, popular education, cities in Latin America, popular culture, class formation, Latin American social movements, rural migration, and place. Book manuscript tentatively titled “Counternarratives of Doña Lucha: Class, Power, and Women’s Leadership in Mexico’s Urban Popular Movement”

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Brad Wright

Brad H. Wright is a historian of Latin America specializing in postrevolutionary Mexico. PhD in Public History. Asst. Prof. of Latin American History at Alabama A&M University

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