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Clio/AnthroposExploring the Boundaries between History and Anthropology$

Eric Tagliacozzo and Andrew Willford

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760201

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760201.001.0001

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Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

(p.102) 5 Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Claudio Lomnitz

Stanford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the Bakthin concept of the “chronotope” to show how the spatiotemporal frameworks were used as tools to write narratives aimed at creating a “historical consciousness” of “dependency” about Mexico's relationships with the United States during Porfirio Diaz's presidency. It reveals that chronotopes are relevant to discussions of ethnography and history and shows how chronotopes were able to form a destructive logic of dependency that effectively silenced the experiences of everyday subjects. The subtle and not-so-subtle forms of racialization that arrived through the photographs that represented Mexico are described. Finally, the chapter also extends an analysis of James Creelman's interview of President Diaz and considers the question why alternative representations of Mexico (e.g. “muckraking”) have proved to be non-translatable and silent during the chronotope of dependency period.

Keywords:   chronotope, dependency, Porfirio Diaz, racialization, James Creelman, muckraking


This chapter is a study of the early formation of the culture of dependent nationalism, a form of historical consciousness that fosters a pragmatic and immoral realism (often with a gesture of melancholic remorse) and justifies private benefits gained from the regretful present with a language of evolutionary transition. I conceive of dependency as a specific condition that emerged in Latin America when the national economies of those countries were reoriented to the United States and the United States became the guardian of their national credit, a process that began to take shape in the 1870s, but that only became a palpable reality by the late 1890s. I explore the culture of dependency by way of its “chronotopes,” that is, through the ways in which the nation was figured in space and time. Specifically, I describe two competing figures that emerged in this period. One of these took shape in a new field of international relations, while the other was a product of an emerging grassroots transnational organization. I argue that these two competing spatiotemporal frameworks (“chronotopes”) are a defining characteristic of dependency as a form of historical consciousness.

(p.103) “Chronotopes” and Independence

The concept of the chronotope was first formulated by Mikhail Bakhtin to refer to the spatiotemporal matrices that are the base condition of all narratives and linguistic acts.1 These spatiotemporal matrices are key elements of ideology, and in them a single image can stand iconically for a set of posited connections between time and place. Movement in space can be figured as movement in time and vice versa, which is why a chronotope is conceived as a matrix.

Major political transformations involve changes in orientation. They require changing the situation, and the horizon of expectations, of collective actors. For this reason, political change is either guided by or leads to the invention of new chronotopes. So, for instance, conservative leaders of Spanish American independence movements, like Agustín Iturbide of Mexico, used the image of a tree, or of a family, to represent the connection between Spain and New Spain and to justify independence: New Spain was a branch of the Spanish tree, but it had grown so robust that it had sprouted its own trunk, and a new tree had taken form naturally in its own soil. The Mexican nation was thus an offshoot of the Spanish nation and its independence was the natural development of the growth cycle. Just as children become independent of their parents, so must Mexico be independent of Spain.

The implication of this chronotope, captured in the spatialtemporal development of life-forms such as trees or families, was both revolutionary and conservative, since it justified national independence while framing it as a natural reassertion of the parental model. Mexico might therefore aspire to its own imperium; and its regions, its peoples, its sacred sites, and its city squares might each be used as a metonymic sign of the new Mexican empire.

This conservative chronotope was not the only available orientation for the Spanish American republics on the world stage. A second formulation rejected the idea that the republics were like the grown children of loving parents or the proud offshoots of a grand old oak. Spain was no loving parent: American lands and peoples had been pillaged by ruthless conquistadors, kept willfully in abject ignorance by a scheming and retrograde clergy, and then mercilessly exploited by penny-pinching “foreign” (Spanish) merchants, who wanted nothing better than to keep the American peoples in their degraded state. In this formulation, the American peoples (p.104) existed as nations before Spain's despoliation. Independence was a rejection of colonial expoliation by a people who had found hope in the new age of reason. Rather than standing before Spain as a youth stands before his parents, the people were simultaneously proof of the enlightened potential of the new republics and the degraded, deformed, and despoiled victims of Spanish usurpation. This second chronotope of national liberation, which eventually found its symbols in pyramids and virginal landscapes, framed independence as the grand beginning of a process of emancipation that would last until the final vestige of the colonial presence had been extirpated.

Why Dependency?

“Dependency” is a concept that was first put forward by Latin American sociologists Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto as a new theory of imperialism that underscored a long history of unequal exchanges between manufacturing centers and the extractive economies that they imposed on their colonies. Dependency Theory's key idea was that “underdevelopment,” rather than lack of development, was a special kind of capitalist development.2 As economic theory, “dependency” was disproved in several key aspects.

I do not intend to revive Dependency Theory as such. Rather, I invoke dependency because the term usefully names a historical era within the broad arc of postcolonial history. The term postcolonial is too broad for an analysis of Latin America's almost 200-year history of independent existence. Dependency, in my usage here, refers to an era in postcolonial history that can be dated roughly from the 1890s to the recent disarticulation of the “Washington Consensus,” when independent nations were reoriented to a new (noncolonial) imperial power whose capital generated rapid intensive development and new modalities of “underdevelopment.” Mexico was perhaps the first nation to undergo this transition.

New Chronotopes of Dependency

Seen from a broad historical lens, Mexico's modes of narrating the nation into historical time during the early postcolonial period can be described as an arc that moved from a horizon of utopian expectation during the early days of the nationalist movement to a feeling of despair (p.105) around civil strife and the various “sins of the nation.” This sentiment reached its nadir in the years immediately following the war with the United States (1848), moving to a sentiment of tentative new national aspirations after the triumph over the French in 1867, and finally to a formula of development that involved a progressive and often self-serving “realism” that formulated the present as a perpetual state of becoming, as a kind of prelude to true national history, to true national sovereignty.

The latter of these transitions, from the sense of possibility that followed the French Intervention (1867) to the legitimation of a progressive dictatorship under Porfirio Díaz (c. 1888), can be summarized in the guiding chronotopes of President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada and of President Porfirio Díaz, respectively. Lerdo, who was ousted in a coup by Díaz in 1876, opposed a rail linkup with the United States, coining his famous motto of Entre la debilidad y la fuerza, el desierto—“Between weakness and strength, the desert.” Lerdo understood the utopia of national sovereignty and self-determination that had been reopened with the triumph over the French to be quite fragile. Mexico was too weak to withstand a rush of U.S. investors, colonists, fortune-hunters, speculators, and dollars. Yankee involvement should be kept to a minimum, and direct lines of mass transport should not be built.

Díaz's famous counterformulation was “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.” At the time, this chronotope had a different nuance than it does today. The reference to Mexico's “distance from God” neatly synthesized a critique of earlier liberal utopianism: Mexico was far from God because Mexicans were far from being virtuous citizens. By 1876, this was obvious enough, because after the defeat of the French and of the Mexican Conservative Party in 1867, the triumphant liberals had not ceased to fight among themselves. The new consensus was that Mexicans still lacked the qualities that were necessary to attain the high ideals of liberal democracy. For this reason, Díaz contended, the United States' power was the unsavory reality with which Mexico had to wrestle. Rather than insist on an unattainable republican utopia, the only guarantor of which was the Mexican desert, true patriotism called for a pragmatic manipulation of international relations: opening up Mexico to U.S. capital investment, but using peace and progress to transform the citizenry, and balancing concessions to the United States with concessions to European powers in order to avoid the nation's subsumption into a new colonial relationship. That is the logic of dependency; and indeed the (p.106) Porfiriato was the time when the chronotopia of dependency came into beine.3

The Diaz dictatorship marked a sea change in the relationship between Mexico and the United States. U.S. investments in mining, railroads, and agriculture skyrocketed.4 Alongside these investments came broad publicity campaigns for Mexico in the United States. These campaigns usually involved recasting the history of Mexico and its relationship with the United States. On the U.S. side, the campaigns were orchestrated in the early days by Mexican diplomat Matías Romero, who, together with major investors in New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, offered countless banquets that served as useful occasions for publicizing Mexico's new image and for doing business.

On these occasions, Romero and the great investors of the period worked together to cast the history of Mexico in a new light. So, for instance, at an 1891 investors' banquet in New York City titled “A Mexican Night,” Walter Logan gave a long speech in which he framed Mexican history as if it had finally reached its pivotal moment:

Will [Diaz] in fact be like our Washington, immensely great in wartime, but even greater in peace? Will he, like Washington, be as apt for building as he was for destroying? The destiny of Mexico hangs on the solution to this question…. More than any living being, it can be said of this man that he is the Creator of a Nation.5

Why was Díaz, a man who first took office fully fifty-five years after independence and nine years after the defeat of the French, being called the father of the nation? It was because, by 1891, the Díaz government had laid conditions for a deep reorientation of Mexican economy and society. Under Díaz the nation had moved from being a highly unstable, economically stagnant and internationally isolated democracy to peace, international credit, and economic growth under a progressive dictatorship.

Matías Romero wrote up, circulated, and refined the new versions of national history, defending Mexico against its detractors, providing statistical, historic, economic, legal, and political information on Mexico for the American public, and helping to explain how, for instance, Mexico's low wages were offset by low productivity and high transportation costs and thus did not represent a threat to U.S. labor or why peonage in southern Mexico was not the same as slavery.6

(p.107) Mexico itself became an arena of display for American capitalists, diplomats, intellectuals, and journalists, with choreographed demonstrations of public order, hospitality, financial potential, and human enjoyment—this alongside Mexico's investment in its international image through participation in world's fairs, international scientific congresses, and publications. In sum, an elaborate system of communication with and through the U.S. public, and its economic counterpart, Wall Street, was well established by the late Porfiriato.7

However, Mexico's carefully managed international image faced a tenacious, though at first seemingly inoffensive, challenge from its border with the United States, a space of intensifying and often unsettling traffic. Beginning in the late 1880s, and prompted by the end of the Apache wars and by the construction of the rail line linking Mexico to the United States at El Paso / Ciudad Juárez, a much wilder and less easily managed set of representations flourished. These were the early years of intensified immigration of laborers to the United States.8 In the fields of Texas and the mines of Arizona, Mexicans became “a race” rather than a nationality. This in itself was a disturbing development for the national image, even if it touched only a minority of Mexicans directly. Moreover, border cities became relevant cultural sites for Mexico: Díaz's political opponents could publish their views there while maintaining political connections on both sides of the border.9 By the 1890s there was a thriving newspaper business in Spanish and in English on the border and a dynamic political scene, as people moved between Mexico and the United States and utilized the conditions in one country to intervene in the other.

This new modality of transnationalism had productive, but also destabilizing, effects. Each nation had its own “regimes of value”—instantiated not only by different currencies (backed by gold and silver standards), but also by the contrasting relative value of labor, consumer items, mechanical tools, and so on. As a result of these differences, traffic across the border could have almost magical effects: common American folk, for instance, were turned into members of a quasi-aristocratic caste, attended by servants and received by the local elite.

Border movement also had the effect of turning Mexican immigrants into members of a segregated and discriminated “race” and, as such, they could become true champions of their nationality. So, for instance, Catarino Garza, a journalist who had migrated to South Texas in 1877, defended (p.108) the Mexican race against slander in the Texan press in the following terms: “We Mexicans consider ourselves to have purer blood than the Americans, given that in our country there is only a mixture of Spanish and Indian, and they [the Americans] are generally descendants of Irish adventurers, Polish beggars, Swiss, Prussians, Russians, and more than anything else filthy Africans.”10 Mexicans, Garza argued, had purer blood, nobler traditions, and better manners than Americans, and yet they were treated as an unthinking mass and used as electoral cannon fodder, carted across the border to Texas in exchange for alcohol in order to vote in fraudulent elections. “Mexico is badly judged because of the immigrants to this country,” he argued.11 In his journalistic practice, Garza regularly exercised his self-image as defender of the race, challenging insulting Anglos to duels and exhibiting gallantry toward American women who, he claimed, “love for convenience, they are as easy to love, as they are easy to forget and to abandon.”12 The growing pressures to “defend the race” only made the temptation to change things back in Mexico greater, eventually pushing Garza to desperate (or megalomaniacal) extremes like insulting the honor of Mexican army general Bernardo Reyes and leading a rebellion to topple President Díaz from South Texas. It was their movement across the border that emboldened these Mexican immigrants, these “libres fronterizos”; they had demystified the falsely superior “Anglos” and made themselves into the representatives of the manliest qualities of their race.

Another example of the cultural dissonance and productive instability produced by the new transnationalism is the case of Teresa Urrea, the so-called Santa de Cabora, a virgin folk-healer turned messianic religious leader who was raised as an icon of revolt in a set of uprisings in Sonora, among the Mayo and Yaqui, and in Chihuahua, most famously at Tomochic in 1893. The Santa de Cabora has been compared to other millenarian leaders of Latin America during this period, and especially to Antonio Conselheiro at Canudos, in Brazil's northeast, who was martyred by the Brazilian army. However, the border situation takes the story of Teresa Urrea in an entirely different direction.

In the face of her astounding popularity and her proximity to the border, the Diaz government decided better to exile Teresa than to make a martyr of her. So Teresa went to the American side of Nogales, where she was received by the local business community as “a Mexican Joan of Arc.” Contrary to her experience in Mexico, where she had been hunted by the law, Nogales offered Teresa every facility to settle there because of the business (p.109) that could be made from the mobs that she attracted and healed. From Nogales, the Santa de Cabora moved to Tucson, Douglas, and, eventually, to California. From those places, Teresa occasionally directed her attention back to Mexican affairs, decrying Porfirio Diaz's policies against the Yaqui, for example. But her life was completely transformed. In Cabora, Urrea received pilgrimages of Mayo and Yaqui Indians and of Mexicans from the outback. Her image was printed on scapulars and raised on banners in village rebellions. Her life in the United States was profitable. She had an agent who paid her $10,000 to go an a national tour making exhibits of her “miracle cures.”13 Border crossing had transformed a millenarian religious charismatic into a freak show attraction.

Both the Garza and Urrea cases are, in different ways, exemplary of the cultural transformations occurring on the U.S.–Mexico border around the 1890s. While the Mexican government and American business interests worked to stabilize the image of Mexico as a peculiar kind of “sister republic,” the new borderlands were generating new social movements and cultural forms.

Two Border Crossings

Mexico had found a new formula for being in the world that was brokered internationally at the highest levels of government, science, and business. Stimulated by massive capital imports and booming export markets for Mexican commodities, the new development strategy also generated a less controlled grassroots version of internationalism, which we have been calling transnationalism, that involved movement of people between the two countries. These two modalities of internationalism—government-brokered international relations and grassroots transnationalism—generated contrasting chronotopes for Mexico.

In order to understand why this was so, it is useful to look to the very different kinds of border-crossing experiences that went with these contrasting modalities, and then to inspect the sort of knowledge-products that emanated from them. I begin by offering two images of border crossings as ideal-typical (rather than as statistically representative) cases.

In 1891, Norwegian anthropologist Carl Lumholtz crossed the U.S.–Mexico border near Bisbee, Arizona, on his way to the Sierra Madre as head of a geographical expedition. Prior to crossing the Arizona–Sonora (p.110) border, Lumholtz went to Washington, D.C., where “the late Mr. James G. Blaine, then Secretary of State, did everything in his power to pave my way in Mexico, even evincing a very strong personal interest in my plans.”14

Armed with the political support of the U.S. secretary of state, and with the financial support of the American Museum of Natural History and some of New York's most prominent captains of finance and of industry—including Andrew Carnegie, J. Pierpont Morgan, Augustus Schermerhorn, and George Vanderbilt, among others—Lumholtz traveled to Mexico City, where “I was received with the utmost courtesy by the President, General Porfirio Diaz, who gave me an hour's audience at the Palacio Nacional, and also by several members of his cabinet, whose appreciation of the importance and the scientific value of my proposition was truly gratifying.”15 Boosted by letters of introduction from the president, various ministers, and state governors, Lumholtz returned to the United States, finished preparing his expedition, and set off.

His aims combined registering the ways of life of a primitive people and opening up a region that had been out of the reach of Mexican and U.S. investors due to the Apache wars, which had only concluded a few years before. Thus Lumholtz stated that:

Primitive people are becoming scarce on the globe. On the American continents there are still some left in their original state. If they are studied before they, too, have lost their individuality or been crushed under the heels of civilization, much light may be thrown not only upon the early people of this country but upon the first chapters of the history of mankind.16

Lumholtz was attracted particularly by the Tarahumara because they were reported to be cave dwellers, like the extinct and mysterious Anasazi of New Mexico. And yet Lumholtz's research was designed to be both a monument and an epitaph for these primitive peoples, since the expedition, with its team of scientists—including a botanist, a geologist, and a cartographer—was intended to open up the Sierra Madre for economic exploitation. Thus:

The vast and magnificent virgin forests and the mineral wealth of the mountains will not much longer remain the exclusive property of my dusky friends; but I hope that I shall have rendered them a ser vice by setting them this modest monument, and that civilized man will be the better for knowing of them.17

(p.111) Lumholtz's project was a distinctly international production, characteristic of the new conditions of dependency. It rested simultaneously on the interests of New York investors and U.S. and Mexican authorities. It is true that his “orientalist” sensibilities led to forms of exoticization and unacknowledged appropriation that are generally associated with colonialism. However, these representations and practices were also embraced by Mexican authorities and by Mexico's educated public. Lumholtz's work is, in other words, a kind of “orientalist” science that is attuned to a postcolonial form of dependency, rather than to colonialism per se.

The Sierra Tarrahumara had only very recently been opened to Mexican or foreign ventures; it had been a favorite hideout of Apache warriors until their final defeat in the mid-1880s. The fierce traits of the Apache were symbolically appropriated by the Mexican colonos who had “pacified” this frontier. “In the colonists' eyes,” writes Ana Alonso, “the Apache became the epitome of an untamed masculinity construed as the ‘natural’ basis of power and authority.”18 But Lumholtz partook of this appropriation of the extinguished Apache in his own, and very different, way.

When he first set out on his expedition, Lumholtz had thirty men with him, including rowdy and racist Americans, Mexicans, and Indians. After some months, he decided to shed the entourage and keep only his dog, Apache, to whom he dedicated some touching lines:

Apache hailed from San Francisco. He was presented to me by a young friend, and while yet in his infancy had ventured out alone, in an express box, to join my expedition at Bisbee, six summers ago. On his mother's side he came from one of the best canine families in the United States, and throughout my travels in Mexico had been my constant and efficient aidede-camp…. We buried him, like an Indian brave, with his belongings, his collar and chain, his trays and bedding.19

Rather than standing in for his own masculinity, the Apache, the very people who had kept travelers like Lumholtz out of reach of the Sierra Madre until 1890, were now harnessed into the spirit of the thoroughbred who was Lumholtz's most loyal companion and servant. Apache and Tarahumara both represented the past in the present, the first as indomitable spirit, the second as the living confirmation of the truth of a past that was taking shape in museum and textbook, thanks to the efforts of those like Lumholtz and his faithful Apache.

(p.112) Now let's turn to a different border crossing, which occurred at the end of the period that we are examining, in 1914, on the Texas–Chihuahua border.

Greenwich Village bohemian, journalist, Harvard graduate, and socialist John Reed arrived in the dusty town of Presidio, Texas, to cross into Ojinaga and cover the Revolution in the south. His socialist paper afforded him no letter of introduction to President Huerta, who was being ousted from power at that very moment. Neither did his trip involve long conversations with New York investors or with the State Department. Instead, Reed made his contacts in a bar in Presidio, Texas, in a scene that he ably portrayed in a memorable thumbnail sketch:

At all times of the day and night, throngs of unarmed [Mexican] Federal soldiers from across the river swarmed in the store and the pool hall. Among them circulated dark, ominous persons with an important air, secret agents of the Rebels and the Federals. Around in the brush camped hundreds of destitute refugees, and you could not walk around a corner at night without stumbling over a plot or a counterplot. There were Texas rangers, and United States troopers, and agents of American corporations trying to get secret instructions to their employees in the interior.20

Reed sought to get to General Mercado, who was being routed by Pancho Villa's forces.

I wanted to interview General Mercado; but one of the newspapers had printed something displeasing to General Salazar, and he had forbidden the reporters in the town. I sent a polite request to General Mercado. The note was intercepted by General Orozco, who sent back the following reply: Esteemed and honored sir: if you set foot inside of Ojinaga, I will stand you sideways against a wall, and with my own hand take great pleasure in shooting furrows on your back.21

This was not exactly the red-carpet treatment that Lumholtz had received from the Mexican authorities. Nevertheless, Reed waded across the Rio Grande, interviewed his man, joined up with the rebel army, rode with Pancho Villa, and wrote one of the most compelling portrayals of the revolutionary process.

Both Lumholtz and Reed wrote important books, but while Lumholtz's work found its way into Spanish immediately and made a deep mark in (p.113) Mexican ethnology, Reed's went practically unnoticed until the 1960s, despite the incredible fame later garnered by Reed for his coverage of the Russian Revolution. This difference is related to the social factors that made their border crossings so different.

We are now ready for a close inspection of the contrasting chronotopes generated by international and transnational relations. To this end I study two well-known works: the Creelman-Díaz interview (1908) for the new internationalism, and John Kenneth Turner's (1910) Barbarous Mexico for the new transnationalism.

International Investments in a Chronotope of Dependency: The Creelman Interview

In March 1908, Pearson's Magazine of New York published a richly illustrated interview with President Porfirio Diaz (see figures 5.1 and 5.2). In that interview, the aging dictator announced that Mexico was finally ready for democracy, that he would welcome and even support the formation of an opposition party, and that he was eager to retire to private life at the end of his term. Although Diaz had made a practice of denying an interest in prolonging his presidency at earlier preelectoral periods, he had never before supported the formation of an opposition party, nor cast so clearly his presidency as an already finished bridge to democratic life. An abridged version of the Creelman interview was immediately translated into Spanish and reproduced throughout the country. After the Creelman interview, Mexican politics opened up to fierce electoral competition. Diaz's firm hold on national politics was over. The interview has therefore been referenced by historians as the symbolic conclusion of the dictatorship.

The Creelman interview has generally been studied for its effects on Mexican political life, with special attention to the constant and multiple allusions to the interview as a cover for the new political opposition to Díaz. Beyond analyses of the political effects of Diaz's declaration of tolerance and support for the opposition, however, the contents of the interview have received surprisingly little attention.22

What was the implication of giving this key set of pronouncements to an American, rather than to a Mexican, medium? What was the historical and cultural framing device that Creelman used to contextualize Diaz's (p.114) sensational pronouncements? An analysis of the publication provides insight into Mexican public opinion as an internationally shaped artifact.

One striking and unexplored feature of the Creelman interview is its discrete racism and, especially, the way in which racism is used to justify the dictatorship. Creelman opens his piece with a lofty and melancholic image that foreshadows his entire justification and glorification of Diaz:

From the heights of Chapultepec Castle President Diaz looked down upon the venerable capital of his country, spread out on a vast plain, with a ring of mountains flung up grandly about it, and I, who had come nearly four thousand miles from New York to see the master and hero of modern Mexico—the inscrutable leader in whose veins is blended the blood of the primitive Mixtecs with that of the invading Spaniards—watched the slender, erect form, the strong, soldierly head and commanding, but sensitive, countenance with an interest beyond words to express.

Creelman turns from this striking chronotope—a new meeting between Mexico and the United States at Chapultepec Castle, a meeting no longer of two nations in war—to do homage to the great leader who single-handedly delivered his country from the grip of European invaders and from its eternal gravitation toward indolence and revolution. The hero thus demanded a portrait:

A high, wide forehead that slopes up to crisp white hair and overhangs deep-set, dark brown eyes that search your soul, soften into inexpressible kindliness and then dart quick side looks—terrible eyes, threatening eyes, loving, confiding, humorous eyes—a straight, powerful, broad and somewhat fleshy nose, whose curved nostrils lift and dilate with every emotion; huge, virile jaws that sweep from large, flat, fine ears, set close to the head, to the tremendous, square, fighting chin; a wide, firm mouth shaded by a white mustache; a full, short, muscular neck; wide shoulders, deep chest; a curiously tense and rigid carriage that gives great distinction to a personality suggestive of singular power and dignity—that is Porfirio Diaz in his seventy-eighth year, as I saw him a few weeks ago.23

This detailed description is written in the ciphered idiom of physiognomy, a pseudoscience that was popular in France, Germany, En gland, and the United States—and, indeed, in Latin America—and widely used by writers and journalists to key readers into the racial characteristics and preponderant qualities of a personality. (p.115)

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Figure 5.1: Frontispiece of the Creelman-Diaz interview. Source: Pearson's Magazine, March 1908.

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Figure 5.2: Opening portrait of Diaz in the interview. Source: Pearson's Magazine, March 1908.

(p.117) I showed Creelman's description to a historian of physiognomy, Dr. Sharrona Pearl, who did not hesitate to offer her interpretation: blood mixing is the key dimension of the description, and it is cast principally as positive. Most of the features that are taken by Creelman as marking power and strength would also be read by his audience as primitive—as both a positive improvement on degenerating Spaniards and potentially as a mark of intellectual limitations. The forehead marks intelligence, as do Diaz's eyes; the fact that they are deep-set could be a sign of lack of rigidity and perhaps some irresponsibility, as well as some limitations in his ability to read. The nose is a “Greek nose,” which is excellent, but also has features of the “snub nose,” which mitigates Diaz's heroic virtue somewhat, as do the shiftiness of the eyes and flaring nostrils that emerge in other sections of the interview. In short, Diaz is brave, refined, rash, and intelligent, but somewhat brutal.24

All of these qualities, which lead Creelman into veritable hero-worship, also mark Diaz as a leader of his people, that is, as the natural leader of an inferior people, a concept that was developed in American physiognomy of the mid-nineteenth century and not infrequently used by pulp journalists like Creelman and, indeed, by the novelists of the period on both sides of the border. The deployment of physiognomy by international correspondents of the yellow press deserves some attention, because it provides a clue to the way in which a kind of “ethics of temporality” was being managed and developed by the pro-Díaz publicity machine in the United States.

Physiognomy was popularized mainly to help urbanites navigate interpersonal relations in the new environment of the nineteenth-century industrial city.25 However, it also served to figure and justify race relations more broadly. So, for instance, Samuel Wells, an American physician whose handbook of phrenology and physiognomy was still in circulation during Creelman's day, argued that “the special organs in which the Caucasian brain most excels, and which distinguish it from those of less advanced races, are Mirthfulness, Ideality, and Conscientiousness, the organs of these faculties being almost invariably small in savage and barbarous tribes.”26 More specifically, the European colonization of America was in some way a natural outcome of the European brain's greater development of the “selfish group” of propensities. In their turn, slavery, colonial domination and class exploitation of the black man also found similar support from this popular “science.”

(p.118) Thus Creelman's painstaking descriptions of Díaz's cranial structure and general demeanor—and the interview is littered with them—are a simultaneous portrait of the hero and of his race. An uncanny example of how this works can be found in another popular American physiognomy manual. James Redfield's 1852 Comparative Physiognomy, which was still relevant for popular writing, says that the highest kind of leaders resemble lions—Redfield cites John Jacob Astor and New York governor and Erie Canal builder DeWitt Clinton as examples. As a people, Germans are like lions.

There are, however, other kinds of leaders who are more like cats. Interestingly, Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés is among them. As Redfield writes: “On the following page is a portrait of Cortez, and it is seen to resemble a puma. A formidable cat is to pounce down upon the mice whose portraits are sculptured on the monuments of Central America, and is represented in the ‘Aztec children!’”27

Indeed, in this book, and on the force of numerous international exhibitions of two malformed children—Máximo and Bartola—who were alleged to be pure descendants of the Aztecs (see Figure 5.3)—Dr. Redfield identifies Aztec physiognomy with that of mice.28 Moreover, Redfield claimed that there existed a natural affinity between victims and executioners. Thus,

People who resemble owls are attracted to the Aztecs, and find in them a gratification of their tastes and an ample field for the exercise of affection and fondness. The same is true of those who resemble cats. In the cat the qualities of the mouse are assimilated, and she can but love that which gratifies her, and which corresponds to the playfulness, the refinement, the cunning and so many other things, in her nature.29

If we transpose this racial logic forward to Creelman, we discover a double movement in Creelman's psychophantic portrayal of Diaz. On one hand, Diaz was “the foremost figure of the American continent,” “an astonishing man,” and “there is not a more romantic or heroic figure in the world.” On the other hand, there was the suggestion that Diaz's grandeur was conjunctural, a fleeting historical artifact, rather than a harbinger of, say, a new dominant race. Diaz's grandeur was the product of the meeting of a willful leader and a degraded people. The successful elevation of that degraded people was a fitting tribute to Diaz in his twilight years. (p.119)

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Figure 5.3: Bartola and Máximo, the so-called Aztec children, were allegedly captured from an untouched Aztec city called “Izamal,” a fraudulent story that was created from a report by American traveler John L. Stephens, whose travels in Yucatan were a raging best seller. Bartola and Máximo were actually bought and taken from their parents in their native Costa Rica and toured through the United States and Europe from 1851 until their deaths. This 1901 photo is from their inspection by German anthropologist Rudolf Virchow, published in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 33: 349–350.

This reading is easily extracted from the Creelman interview, but it is more bluntly laid out in Creelman's biography of Diaz, written two years later, in 1910, in a much more defensive spirit, in the face of the harsh criticism that the Diaz government now faced, both in Mexico and in the United States. There Creelman was more forthright about Mexico's racial problem and about Diaz's role in it.

The country that Diaz inherited had a serious birth defect: “In the raw attempt to apply the perfected institutions of Anglo-Saxon civilization to (p.120) the descendants of the dusky races which inhabited Mexico before the discovery of America by Columbus, the Mexican statesmen of 1824 put the principles of democratic government to a terrible ordeal.” Diaz, in this context, “was summoned to power from a youth of poverty and obscurity by the necessities of his divided and demoralized country; and he is as truly a creation of the weakness of his people as the peaceful and progressive Mexico of today is largely the product of his strength and common sense.”30

The Creelman interview with Diaz, contrary to his later Diaz biography, was written at a moment of relative optimism with regard to Mexico, and it was meant to be translated and published in Spanish, so that this historical frame was developed more subtly, favoring a melancholic eulogizing over direct criticisms of the Mexican race. Thus Diaz's grandeur, and the grandeur of the Mexico that he represented, had peaked, and the general was now willingly relinquishing and giving way instead to the new American era:

It is something to come from the money-mad gambling congeries of Wall Street and in the same week to stand on the rock of Chapultepec, in surroundings of almost unreal grandeur and loveliness, beside one who is said to have transformed a republic into an autocracy by the absolute compulsion of courage and character, and to hear him speak of democracy as the hope of mankind.31

In its melancholic strain, Creelman's portrayal of Diaz is not unlike his earlier publication of an interview that he held with the great Sioux chief Sitting Bull:

There he stood—the mightiest personality of a dying people whose camp fires were burning in America before Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem—native America incarnate, with knife and tomahawk and pipe, facing a stripling writer from a New York newspaper and telling the simple story of his retreating race.32

Indeed, as one reads the Creelman interview in a racial key, the question of why Diaz chose to give that journalist such an important interview becomes increasingly puzzling, and also quite revealing.

Let me say outright that we are not entirely certain why Diaz decided to make his momentous revelations to Creelman and to Pearson's Magazine. At the time of the interview, and for years thereafter, Díaz's motives were (p.121) very much the subject of speculation. Very few members of Díaz's closest circle seem to have been privy to his decision on the matter. Thus, finance minister José Yves Limantour recalled that “the members of the cabinet—myself included—and all of the people who were close to the President, except his private secretary, were unaware of the interview, and we were all equally surprised when we read it in the papers.”33

Porfirian economist Toribio Ezequiel Obregón suggested that in the aftermath of the 1907 crisis, the Díaz government wished to calm jittery U.S. investors on Mexico's long-term stability, and that this explained why Díaz gave his interview to a foreign journalist and directed it to a foreign audience, badly miscalculating its effects—both internal and external.34 Limantour's memoirs suggest otherwise, since the former finance minister claims to have had no knowledge of the interview. Indeed, Limantour pondered Díaz's motivations for giving this interview and concluded that, although it was likely that the translator and/or Creelman exaggerated Díaz's responses and caused undue harm, the only explanation for the interview itself was the weakening of Díaz's mental capabilities, brought on by senility.35

Basing his conclusions on material from the State Department Archives, which were not open to Díaz's contemporaries, historian William Schell has determined that the Creelman interview was foisted on Díaz by the highest U.S. functionaries: Ambassador David Thompson, Secretary of State Elihu Root—who had made a visit to Mexico City immediately prior to the interview—and President Roosevelt himself, with the intermediation of their candidate for Mexico's presidential succession, Chihuahua governor Enrique Creel. Roosevelt's aim was to extract a statement against reelection from Díaz, as part of their tough negotiation with the dictator on international policy. Roosevelt wanted Mexico to intervene in—and probably to absorb—Central America, in order to stabilize the region and to make it safe for the Panama Canal project. Díaz, however, had systematically resisted intervention. He did need to negotiate with Roosevelt, however, because Díaz needed his support to deal with the Magonista agitation on the border. Roosevelt's “plot” failed, however, in so far as reelection occurred despite the Creelman interview, instability in Mexico was not averted, and neither Díaz nor Mexico served as the United States' proxy in Central America.36

And yet we still do not know Díaz's calculations in the matter. It is clear that he did not entirely disapprove of Creelman's work in the interview, (p.122) since he subsequently authorized the journalist to become his biographer. Indeed, the questions that we ask of this event as cultural historians are a little different from those of the political or diplomatic historian: why did Díaz give a key interview, and then authorize a biography, to a newspaperman who had covered every imperial endeavor of the era with consistently chauvinistic racism? True, Creelman was a renowned journalist, who had interviewed European monarchs; but his disdain for the tropical races was as apparent as his interest in Great Men. Creelman had been in Cuba, in Haiti, in the Philippines; he had covered the Japanese invasion of Manchuria; he had interviewed Sitting Bull; he had published an impassioned defense of the role of “yellow journalism” in the Spanish American War, stating approvingly, with reference to Hearst, Pulizer, and the rest of them that “the modern editor is seldom contented unless he feels that he is making history as well as writing it.”37 Why prefer this man, who had a substantial published track record, to any of the Mexican journalists who were available to Diaz? Why, indeed, did Diaz later entrust him especially with writing a full-fledged biography and defense?

There are political reasons that help explain Díaz's choice: a more leftward-leaning U.S. journalist would certainly have been reticent to produce the sort of psychophantic portrayal that Creelman served up. But there is more to it than this. By the early 1900s, the Díaz dictatorship had its own dependence on the racist narrative reproduced by Creelman. The degradation of the Mexican nation, and the foreign recognition and admiration of Díaz as a human specimen and of his historical accomplishments, provided Díaz with the framework that he needed in order to float a scenario of managed democratic transition to the public.

Thus, the demeaning representations of the Mexican race such as those offered up by Creelman allowed U.S. and Mexican opinion to join in the chorus of praise for the dictator and to assert that the country as a whole still deserved nothing better, while providing a melancholic language of transition as a legitimating device for the capitalist feeding frenzy that the dictatorship promoted. In this context, the subtleties of American racism could be profitably deployed as an internationally intelligible rationale and used to subdue utopian currents in both American and Mexican opinion.

Indeed, the chronotope of de pen den cy proposed by Creelman—a backward race that could be brought to the very brink of democratic life by sheer political will—had gained such currency during the dictatorship that it was common sense even to the opposition.

(p.123) Thus, despite his proclaimed disdain for Creelman, whose handiwork had left Díaz's cry “disfigured by the presumptuous and vulgar literature of yankee journalism,” Luis Cabrera concurred with Creelman's assessment of the connection between the grandeur of Díaz and the inferiority of the Mexican race, if only to extract a very different conclusion:

Feeling weak and tired, the dictator for the first time saw his work with the perspicacity that proximity to death brings, and with the clearness of vision that one has from great altitudes. And he understood that because it was a work that was founded on the weakness of our race by the will of a single man, it was brittle and unsubstantial (deleznable).38

The difference between Cabrera and Creelman was not in the guiding chronotope, but rather in the its political implications, for whereas Creelman went headlong into hero worship, Cabrera imagined a Díaz who found himself before death, terrified of the degraded state in which he was leaving his people. According to this revealing interpretation, the interview was a cry for help to the Mexican people: “And the dictator felt a pang of terror, as if he'd slipped at the edge of a deep precipice, and let out that cry for help [the Creelman interview], which was nothing but a desperate call for the Mexican people to save his work in ruins, because the people were the only ones who could save it.”39

On the eve of the Mexican revolution, Mexican public opinion was already inflected by U.S. opinion in a deep and subtle way, leading political figures even tacitly to rely on the racist chauvinism of the American imperialists of the day as a workable chronotope with which to frame the nation's delicate political process.

John Kenneth Turner and the Rise and Limits of Transnational Time

International relations, couched either in the language of scientific racism or in the popular idiom of physiognomy, justified the Díaz dictatorship and tempered its harsh realities by framing it within a language of becoming. Progress, for a racially inferior country like Mexico, meant acquiring the necessary accoutrements to sit at the table with the civilized progressive nations. It was, in other words, an evolutionary prerequisite to the true progressivism of the civilized world.

(p.124) But while international relations in politics, the scientific community, and the press tended to buttress the Mexican state, a new field of transnational relations undermined Mexico's dominant structure, at the very moment in which the dictator sought support from the prestige of American opinion. If border crossings such as those of Lumholtz and of Creelman served to qualify the Mexican dystopia—“far from God and close to the United States”—and to justify the regime as a stern but benign solution to it, the consolidation of the U.S.—Mexico border provided conditions for the formation of an alternative historicity for Mexico.

The best example of this process is probably the work of John Kenneth Turner. Not coincidentally, Turner framed his reportage—first printed as a set of blockbuster articles on Mexican slavery for The American Magazine, and then compiled and expanded into the book Barbarous Mexico (1910)—as a response to Creelman's panegyric, and more generally to the way in which the Diaz machine and its U.S. allies mediated the coverage of Mexican affairs in the United States.

If Creelman's interview involved a robust web of connections at the top of the U.S. and Mexican political systems, Turner's reporting relied on an equally impressive set of connections between each nation's dissidents.

John Kenneth Turner decided to go to Mexico because of his acquaintance with the radical leaders of Mexico's opposition Partido Liberal Mexicano, including Ricardo Flores Magón, who were all imprisoned in the Los Angeles County jail at the time. The meeting was not serendipitous. The consolidation of the U.S.—Mexico border meant that major American capitalists—the Guggenheims, the Rockefellers, Otis, Hearst, Stillman—now operated on both sides of the border. It also meant that Mexican laborers and American welders, merchants, and engineers were working on both sides of the border. Mexico's dissidents in the United States met with the same kind of harassment faced by the Wobblies and other American anarchists, particularly in the years following the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley by the young anarchist Leon Czolgosz; this harassment was compounded by the hardened racism against Mexicans that had developed in the Southwest.40

Despite these difficulties, the United States remained a crucial point of reunion for Mexico's opposition groups. Indeed, it is possible that the leadership of the Partido Liberal Mexicano, which had been founded in 1902, avoided creating an anarchist party even as they became progressively radicalized (p.125) and retained their “liberal” credentials instead, not only because of the popular resonance of liberalism in Mexico, but also because anarchism was a crime in the United States and anarchists were explicitly banned from immigration.41

According to his account, Turner felt impelled to go to Mexico because of the dissidents' insistence on the continued existence of chattel slavery there. His reportage was both a remarkable performance of the new possibilities brought forth by the new transnationalism and a radical reframing of Mexican national time. It is also a case study of the limited (though not inconsequential) success in disseminating a new border temporality that involved synchronizing Mexican and American time.

Transnational Ties Deployed to Destabilize International Arrangements

Turner's performance was “transnational” in at least three ways: first, the project was forged out of solidarity within an internationalist union movement that made sense now that Mexican and American miners and rail workers were employed by the same companies, operating on both sides of the border, and now that they faced the antagonism of the same publicity machine in both countries.42 Indeed, Turner's effort to reveal Mexican conditions was as much a battle against Díaz as it was against American media moguls, politicians, and capitalists. Second, Turner's reporting relied crucially on the guidance of Mexican socialist Lázaro Gutiérrez de Lara, who accompanied Turner throughout his travels. Third, like the Creelman interview, Turner's journalistic feat would have been impossible for a Mexican newspaperman to achieve: Turner only gained access and the confidence of Mexican slave owners and taskmasters because he was able to pass himself off as an American investor.

This double status as a privileged outsider and as a collaborator of privileged—because oppositional—insiders allowed Turner to defamiliarize the framework within which Mexico was routinely cast to the American public, turning stock images of travel writing into a denunciation of Mexican slavery and peonage that resonated with the United States' recent and current social struggles. Rather than casting Mexicans as being radically Other, or as backward members of a “dusky” race, Turner emphasized similarities between Mexican conditions and recent (p.126) conditions in the United States, particularly slavery, and peonage in contemporary southern states, like Florida.43 Within Turner's framework, rather than elevating the Mexican people, Díaz was the lynchpin in a system designed to keep them down.

One of Turner's most subtle—and radical—moves was his use of stock images from travel writing as pieces of evidence that fit seamlessly in a new narrative, thereby exhibiting their earlier distorted nature. So, for instance, an image of an Indian woman in front of a cactus (there were at the time dozens of picture postcards like it) is labeled “Slave Mother and Child—Also Henequen Plant,” the cactus being the cash crop around which Yucatecan slavery was built (see Figure 5.4).44 Similarly, Indian porters carrying wood or baskets—a typical image in the travel literature throughout the nineteenth century—were now lined up and exhibited as bonded laborers (see Figure 5.5).

Rather than some exotic place, Turner paints Mexico as an extreme case of the familiar horrors of tyranny, of the power of trusts and monopolies, of peonage, of harsh anti-union repression, and, especially, of chattel slavery—all key themes in the history of American freedom. So, for instance, in his moving story on the enslavement, deportation, and extermination of the Yaqui Indians, Turner takes a moment to clarify that “Like the Mayas of Yucatan, they are Indians and yet they are not Indians. In the United States we would not call them Indians, for they are workers. As far back as their history can be traced they have never been savages. They have been an agricultural people.”45

As for the qualities and characteristics of the Mexican race more generally, Turner reflects that

the Yaquis are Indians, they are not white, yet when one converses with them in a language mutually understood one is struck with the likenesses of the mental processes of White and Brown. I was early convinced that the Yaqui and I were more alike in mind than in color. I became convinced, too, that the family attachments of the Yaqui mean quite as much to the Yaqui as the family attachments of the American mean to the American.46

Through an engagement with the forced separation of husbands and wives and of parents and their children, through detailed and thoroughly documented discussions of bodily punishment and of rape, Turner rehearses for Mexico the key themes of American abolitionism, which is (p.127)

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Figure 5.4: Slave mother and child.

Source: Turner (1910).

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Figure 5.5: Cargadores with baskets.

Source: Turner (1910).

(p.129) why his pieces—and then his book (which sold more than a million copies)—were likened in content and impact to Uncle Tom's Cabin.47

James Creelman had spoken of Porfirio Díaz as “the father of the nation,” whose personal defects were in any case a reflection of the failures of his people: “he is as truly a creation of the weakness of his people as the peaceful and progressive Mexico of today is largely the product of his strength and common sense.”48 The rigors of dictatorship that he brought were the best medicine for a people who were in fact incapable of acceding to democracy except only partially and very slowly:

For when Mexico threw herself shouting into Anglo-Saxon forms of democracy, she challenged her own history and traditions, ignored the instincts of the blood running in her veins, forgot the wrecked temples and palaces and the extinguished civilization of her prehistoric peoples—turning in a day of heroic emotion to institutions possible only to nations of the highest political capacity—and those who had suffered together in the name of the long oppressed republic drifted into war again, unconscious, perhaps, that the real question at issue was whether a political principle or a political method, true or possible in one place, is true or possible in all places, or if race or climate or time, or all three together, must determine whether a nation should be temporarily or permanently ruled from the bottom upward or from the top downward.49

Turner turned this kind of argument on its head: “The slavery and peonage of Mexico, the poverty and illiteracy, the general prostration of the people, are due, in my humble judgment, to the financial and political organization that at present rules that country—in a word, to what I shall call the ‘system’ of General Porfirio Diaz.”50 In their self-serving support for the dictatorship, American interests were supporting abroad a system that had been eradicated at home. In collaborating with the Diaz repressive apparatus, “the United States has been turned into a military dictatorship as sinister and irresponsible as that of Diaz himself.”51 Díaz, the coterie of planters and slave owners of the south, the band of jefes politicos and corrupt officials, and the American moguls that supported them were, all of them, a kind of hellish reincarnation of the slave-owning castes of the American South, hellish because they were fiercer: “Over and over again I have compared in my mind the condition of the slaves of Yucatan with what I have read of the slaves of our southern states before the Civil War. And always the result has been in favor of the black man.”52

(p.130) In order to denounce the “Diaz system,” Turner availed himself of the entire arsenal of journalistic techniques that had been deployed in the United States, and so his work resonates not only with that of Harriett Beecher Stowe and other abolitionists, but also, and very strongly, with the work of the muckrakers. Thus, Turner is the first—and to my knowledge the only—reporter who ever applied the technique that was developed by Jacob Riis in How the Other Half Lives (1889) to expose the living conditions of Mexican lodging houses and tenements (mesones) with night photos, taken with the aid of a flashlight (see Figure 5.6).53

The combined effect of abolitionist-inspired reportage and the most powerful documentary techniques of the muckraker, compounded by Turner's collaboration with Mexican liberals—who were represented in his work as patriotic freedom fighters, rather than as anarchists—was powerfully understood by the American public.

The same was not necessarily the case of its Mexican counterpart, however. Thus, in 1912, after Porfirio Díaz had been ousted, Turner was honored with an interview with President Francisco I. Madero at Chapultepec Castle, the very site where Creelman had interviewed Díaz four years earlier. Madero told Turner that Barbarous Mexico had aided his cause greatly because it allowed the American people to understand that he was in fact fighting for freedom.54 It did not, however, aid the Mexican people in conducting an open discussion of Mexican slavery and of its social conditions.

Turner's book would not find its way into print in Spanish until 1955, forty-seven years after the initial publication of Turner's articles. That first Mexican edition, Eugenia Meyer reminds us, was prefaced by Daniel Cosío Villegas, the dean of Mexico's modern historians of the time and still the most widely revered historian of the Porfiriato, who not only dismissed the value of Barbarous Mexico as an inaccurate portrayal of Mexican conditions, but went on to doubt the very existence of John Kenneth Turner himself, speculating that the text had probably been penned by an (anonymous) Mexican liberal, and concluding that it is “worthless as a scientific document,” but that it could be profitably read by his contemporaries, instead, as a particularly effective political pamphlet.55 But Turner's “propaganda” was apparently not so very effective in Mexico itself. Why?

Although Mexicans had their own critique of peonage, and revolutionaries addressed most of the conditions that Turner discussed, there was little attempt to underscore similarities and synchronicity between Mexico and the United States. Cosío Villegas's frosty reception of Turner is symptomatic (p.131)

Chronotopes of a Dystopic Nation: The Birth of “Dependency” in Late Porfirian Mexico

Figure 5.6: Mexican muckraking. Interestingly, this strategy of social denunciation, which was entirely novel in Mexico, went and has continued to go unheeded in Mexican commentary on Turner's work.

Source: Turner (1910).

(p.132) of this—particularly his reticence to embrace the fact that Barbarous Mexico might have been penned by an American. John Reed's book, too, was left languishing without translation into Spanish for fifty years, and when it was printed in Spanish in 1954 it went practically unnoticed until the late 1960s. Thus, writer and former Villista Renato Leduc wrote of his surprise when he discovered, browsing in a secondhand bookstore, that “Johnny, Juanito, the smiling pug-nosed gringo of Chihuahua, was none other than the famous John Reed, heroic chronicler of the October Revolution.”56

The slowness to translate and the reticence to embrace, discuss, and circulate these border products, even when they supported the ideas of the Mexican revolution, is a testament to the fact that the tensions between the two chronotopes that we have explored remained in place. After the Revolution, national time was framed in ways that still relied more on Creelman's chronotope than on Turner's. National time was framed in ways that still hesitated to embrace Mexico's contemporaneousness with the United States.







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An early version of this chapter was presented at the Davis Seminar in Princeton, and I am grateful to its members for their comments. Mauricio Tenorio, Carlos Bravo, Friedrich Katz, and Alan Wells pointed me to useful materials. I owe a debt of gratitude to Sharrona Pearl for her advice on physiognomy. The usual disclaimers apply.

(1.) Mikhail Bakhtin, “Forms of Time and the Chronotope in the Novel,” in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M. M. Bakhtin, Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist, trans. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981).

(2.) Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America, Marjory Mattingly Urquidi, trans. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).

(3.) The framework promoted a credible, and yet always challenged, language of perpetual transition that became the object of criticism and elaboration well into the twentieth century. The paradigmatic example is Samuel Ramos, who introduced a kind of Freudianism to Mexican philosophy in his 1930 work on national character. Ramos argued that Mexicans suffered from a collective inferiority complex. The implication was that this “complex,” which found its ideal-typical subject in the urban lower-class pelado, was principally a mentality and, therefore, curable. A therapeutic horizon to cure Mexicans of their “distance from God” had opened up with the Revolutionary state. Samuel Ramos, Perfil del hombre y la cultura en México (Mexico City: P. Robredo, 1938 [1931]). For a brilliant critique of Mexican theories of eternal becoming, see Roger Bartra, La jaula de la melancholia (Mexico City: Grijalbo, 1987).

(4.) John Mason Hart, Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 129–162; Hart, Empire and Revolution: The Americans in Mexico Since the Civil War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Daniel Nugent, ed., Rural Revolt in Mexico: U.S. Intervention and the Domain of Subaltern Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998); William Schell, Integral Outsiders: The American Colony in Mexico City, 1876–1911 (Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 2001).

(5.) Matías Romero, Artículos sobre México publicados en los Estados Unidos de América (México: Oficina Impresora de Estampillas, 1892), 168–170.

(6.) See, for an impressive compilation, Matías Romero, Mexico and the United States: A Study of the Subjects Affecting Their Political, Commercial, and Social Relations, Made with a View to Their Promotion (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons,1898).

(7.) See Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, Mexico at the World's Fairs: Crafting a Modern Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); Schell, Integral Outsiders; Justo Sierra, Mexico, Its Social Evolution, 3 vols. (Barcelona: Ballescá Editors, 1900).

(8.) For an overview, see John Mason Hart, ed., Border Crossings: Mexican and Mexican-American Workers (Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1998).

(9.) See, for example, on San Antonio, Daniel Arreola, “The Mexican American Cultural Capital,” Geographical Review 77(1): 17–34.

(10.) Cited in Elliott Young, Catarino Garza's Revolution on the Texas–Mexico Border (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 50.

(11.) Ibid., 31–33.

(12.) Ibid., 46.

(13.) Paul Vanderwood, The Power of God Against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 304.

(14.) Carl Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico: Explorations in the Sierra Madre and Other Regions, 1890–1898, vol. 1 (New York: Dover Publications, 1987 [1902]), viii.

(15.) Ibid., viii–ix.

(16.) Ibid., xvi.

(17.) Ibid., xvi–xvii.

(18.) Ana Alonso, Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997), 71.

(19.) Ibid., 78–81.

(20.) John Reed, Insurgent Mexico (New York: International Publishers, 1969 [1914]), 32.

(21.) Ibid., 29–30.

(22.) The principal pieces on the interview are Eduardo Blanquel, “Setenta años de la entrevista Díaz-Creelman,” Vuelta 2(17) (April 1978): 28–33; and Schell, Integral Outsiders, chapter 6.

(23.) James Creelman, “President Diaz, Hero of the Americas,” Pearson's Magazine 19(3) (March 1908): 231–232.

(24.) Sharrona Pearl, written communication, February 4, 2007.

(25.) Richard Gray, About Face: German Physiognomic Thought from Lavatier to Auschwitz (Detroit: Wayne State University, 2004); Sharrona Pearl, “As Plain as the Nose on Your Face: Physiognomy in 19th Century En gland” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2005).

(26.) Samuel R. Wells, How to Read Character: A New Illustrated Hand-Book of Phrenology and Physiognomy for Students and Examiners (New York: Fowler & Wells Co., Publishers, 1894 [1869]), vii.

(27.) James Redfield, Comparative Physiognomy or Resemblances Between Men and Animals (New York: Redfield, Clinton Hall, 1852), 31–32.

(28.) For a detailed account of the dismal story of Máximo and Bartola, see Juan Comas, Dos microcéfalos “aztecas”: Leyenda, historia y antropología (México City: UNAM, 1968); and Nigel Rothfels, “Aztecs, Aborigines, and Ape-People: Science and Freaks in Germany, 1850–1900,” in Rosemarie Garland Thomson, ed., Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body (New York: NYU Press, 1996), 158–172. Bartola and Máximo were first exhibited at the Barnum Circus, and they were toured continuously, mostly in Europe, at least until 1901. The dates of their deaths are unknown. Although their status as “Aztecs” was quickly disputed by some scientists, the fame of the “Aztec Children” and their influence in public opinion was deep, widespread, and long-lasting, and they were viewed and discussed not only by the wide public, but also by the monarchs of Britain and of Prussia, as well as by leading European and American scientists into 1900. The drawing of Máximo in Redfield's book is a copy of a drawing that was published in 1851 in the American Journal of Medical Sciences (vol. 25, 290).

(29.) Redfield, Comparative Physiognomy, 67.

(30.) James Creelman, Diaz, Master of Mexico (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1911), v.

(31.) Creelman, “President Diaz, Hero of the Americas,” 232–234.

(32.) James Creelman, The Wanderings and Adventures of a Special Correspondent (Boston: Lothrop Publishing Company, 1901), 295.

(33.) José Yves Limantour, Apuntes sobre mi vida pública (México: Editorial Porrúa, 1965 [1921]), 154.

(34.) Toribio Ezequiel Obregón, “El epílogo de la conferencia Creelman sera la entrevista Díaz-Taft,” El Antirreeleccionista, September 23, 1909.

(35.) Limantour, Apuntes, 154–156.

(36.) Schell, Integral Outsiders, chapter 6.

(37.) Creelman, Wanderings, 358.

(38.) Luis Cabrera, “El grito de Chapultepec,” in Obras Completas, vol. 2 (Mexico City: Editorial Oasis, 1974 [1909]), 28.

(40.) Dirk Raat, Revoltosos: Mexico's Rebels in the United States, 1903–1920 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981); James Sandos, Rebellion in the Borderlands: Anarchism and the Plan de San Diego, 1904–1923 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992); Neil Foley, White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks and Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); Arnoldo de Leon, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes Toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821–1900 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983).

(41.) John Kenneth Turner describes U.S. authorities' use of immigration law—including the anti-anarchist clause, as a ploy to collaborate closely and directly with the Diaz repressive machine—in Barbarous Mexico (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1914 [1911]), 272–279.

(42.) The strike at the Cananea copper mine (1906) provided the occasion for a rapprochement between the Díaz and Roosevelt governments; Mexico acquiesced to Roosevelt's Central American policies in exchange for U.S. support in policing the magonistas in the United States and sharing intelligence on their border activities. Schell, Integral Outsiders, chapter 6.

(43.) The campaign against peonage in the South was still fresh in American public discussion at the time of Turner's writing. See Pete Daniel, The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901–1964 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972).

(44.) For general histories of Mexican photography, see Olivier Debroise, Mexican Suite: A History of Photography in Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001); Estela Treviño, 160 años de fotografía en México (Mexico City: CONACULTA / CENART / Oceano, 2005); and Emma Cecilia García Krinsky, ed., Imaginarios y fotografía en México: 1839–1970 (Barcelona: Lunweg, 2005).

(45.) Turner, Barbarous Mexico, 38.

(46.) Ibid., 61.

(47.) For a discussion, see Eugenia Meyer, John Kenneth Turner, periodista de México (Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 2005), 13.

(48.) Creelman, Diaz, Master of Mexico, v.

(49.) Ibid., 3–4.

(50.) Turner, Barbarous Mexico, 110.

(51.) Ibid., “Preface to the Third Edition” (1911).

(52.) Ibid., 35.

(53.) Alberto del Castillo Troncoso, “La historia de la fotografía en México,” in Rosa Casanova et al., eds., Imaginarios y fotografía en México (Barcelona: Lunwerg, 2005), 71–72.

(54.) J. K. Turner correspondence, 1912, cited in Meyer, John Kenneth Turner, 55.

(55.) Ibid., 49–50.

(56.) Reed, Insurgent Mexico, 17.