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OF OAXACA, MEXICO, 1954-1982

Alan Shane Dillingham, Doctor of Philosophy, 2012

Dissertation directed by: Professor Mary Kay Vaughan Department of History This dissertation examines the relationship between indigenous peoples and modernizing schemes in Mexico during the second half of the twentieth century. As such, it explores the relationship between indigeneity, educational and development policies, and Cold War politics. The study is grounded in a particular indigenous highland region of southern Mexico, the Mixteca Alta, while at the same time investigating indigenousstate relations as they were articulated on national and international levels. I examine policy debates, institutional reforms and labor struggles within indigenista agencies between 1954 and 1982. I ask how ideas about the value of indigenous language and culture shaped projects of incorporation and the struggles of meaning inherent in those processes. In other words, this dissertation is an investigation of the micropolitics of indigenous education and development efforts in the second half of the twentieth century.

I argue that in the late 1970s a confluence of factors–including postwar development projects engaging indigenous brokers, transnational discourses of anti-colonialism, and grassroots struggle with an authoritarian regime-crystallized to shift official policy to the recognition and celebration of indigenous linguistic diversity.

The dissertation deepens our understanding of post-1940 Mexican political culture and the transformations it underwent. Specifically, it plots a new periodization for regions, such as the Mixteca Alta, which did not experience significant agrarian reform during the 1930s, by demonstrating how federal agencies (other than the military) only began to exert influence in the early 1950s. The period of liberalizing reforms known as the apertura democrática, or democratic opening, is frequently described as an effort to coopt government opponents. I argue against this cooptation narrative by demonstrating how President Luis Echeverría (1970-1976) employed tried and true tactics of negotiation with mobilized sectors to both concede to and control emerging aspirations. It is in this regard that the Mexican regime, earlier than most of its Latin American counterparts, employed the rhetoric of indigenous cultural and linguistic rights to reformulate its corporatist rule.




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Advisory Committee:

Professor Mary Kay Vaughan, Chair Professor Julie Greene Professor Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz Associate professor Karin Rosemblatt Professor Barbara Weinstein ©Copyright by

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I first must acknowledge the various institutions and agencies that provided material support for this research project. They include the Inter-American Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Spencer Foundation, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Intensive Mixtec Language program, the Department of Education ‘s Foreign Language and Area Studies program, and the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park.

My advisor Mary Kay Vaughan, whose career set an inspiring legacy, was consistently willing to debate and discuss with a precocious graduate student and I thank her that.

Karin Rosemblatt proved more generous with her time and intellect than could reasonably be expected. Barbara Weinstein was there from the beginning and has been a model of academic citizenship and generosity. At Maryland, David Sartorius, Daryle Williams and Julie Greene all provided crucial support during various phases of this project. Alexander Dawson and Steven Lewis shared their expertise and time with me. In Mexico, numerous academics and activists nurtured the project; prominent among them are Juan Julián Caballero, Marcos A. Cruz Bautista and Angelina Trujano, all instructors in the SDSU Mixtec language program. I benefitted from conversations with Oaxaca City’s vibrant intellectual community, including Salvador Sigüenza, Víctor Raúl Martínez, and Xico Luna Ruiz. In addition, I must thank all of the teachers in La CMPIO, especially Alverino López López for introducing me to his at times skeptical comrades.

And to those Oaxacan educators who shared their stories, homes, and food with me.

Other colleagues and friends provided crucial help and insight; among them are Ricardo Abel López, Reid Gustafson, Jesse Zarley, Alberto Hernández Sánchez, Ted Cohen, Stuart Easterling, Whitney Duncan, Jennifer Boles, and the entire Malaguas collective.

The Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History of the Americas provided an annual space for intellectual camaraderie. Finally, my family’s love and humanity inspire me daily and kept me going throughout this project. My father nurtured my interest in Mexico and the broader world of ideas; none of this would be possible without him. And I must acknowledge G, who bore the last, most difficult phase of this project. Thank you for your patience.

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Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………..ii List of Images…………………………………………………………………………….iv Introduction: Indigenismo and its Discontents……………………………………………1 Chapter One: The Mixteca Alta in the Indigenista Imagination: Prehispanic Glory and the Tragic Present……………………………………………………………………………31 Chapter Two: Radio Schools in the Mixteca Alta, 1958-1965…………………………..63 Chapter Three: Return to Pátzcuaro: Dependency Theory and Language Policy at the 1968 Congreso Indigenista Interamericano……………………………………………...82 Chapter Four: Indigenismo Occupied: Developmentalism and 1968 Radicalism in the state of Oaxaca, 1969-1975……………………………………………………………..115 Chapter Five: The Rise of the Bilingual Teacher: Institutionalization of Indigenous Education Reform………………………………………………………………………145 Conclusion: Indigenista Legacies………………………………………………………170 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………181

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Image 1: Instituto Nacional Indigenista Map of Las Mixtecas Image 2: “DDTización,” Ocotepec, ca. 1955 Image 3: De la Peña Language Statistics Image 4: Depiction of Colombian Catholic Radio School Program Image 5: Opening Presidium of the Sexto Congreso Indigenista Interamericano, 1968 Image 6: Cover of Imperialism and Decolonization, Volume Two, 1981

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emerged throughout the Americas. These movements, mobilizing from Canada to Chile, challenged racist and discriminatory practices and demanded recognition of the unique cultural and historical experiences of First Peoples. The so-called “Indian problem” had its roots in the European conquest of the Americas, in which the diverse peoples and civilizations of the continent were lumped together as “Indians.” The conflict among descendants of those original peoples, colonial states, and subsequent independent regimes remained one of the central cleavages in Latin America. Through the centuries, indigenous peoples navigated diverse strategies for their subordinated incorporation into post-conquest regimes. In some cases indigenous people fought to overthrow the colonial and postcolonial order. However, the general tendency was toward an attenuated citizenship.1

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formation in Mexico during the second half of the twentieth century. As such, it explores the relationship between indigeneity, modernizing educational and development policies, and Cold War politics. The study is grounded in a particular indigenous highland region of southern Mexico, the Mixteca Alta, while at the same time investigating indigenousstate relations as they were articulated on national and international levels.

                                                                                                                A sampling of examples of this process includes: Robert Charles Padden, “Cultural Change and Military Resistance in Araucanian Chile, 1550-1730,” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 13,

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as a point of pride in their nationalist discourses. Nineteenth century policies varied by country, but national elites generally combined explicit racial categories and hierarchies with


celebrations of the dead Indian in their patriotic discourses.2 National policies of indigenous incorporation and aesthetics eventually came to be termed indigenismo. As such, indigenismo celebrated aesthetic achievements while encouraging political participation and economic integration of the indigenous population.3 Indigenismo constituted both a prominent state ideology and practice in twentieth century Latin America. Indigenista politics were evidenced in national popular aesthetics, such as the works of the great Mexican muralists, in experimental indigenous education in Bolivia in the 1920s, and in the national and international indigenista congresses of the first half of the century.4 In Mexico, in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1910, indigenista thinking combined with agrarian radicalism as an emerging state apparatus turned to its numerous indigenous groups to build a foundational myth for the nation.

                                                                                                                For a discussion of both the variance and prevalence of nationalist invocations of the indigenous past, see Rebecca Earle, The Return of the Native: Indians and Myth-Making in Spanish America, 1810-1930 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 24-29.

Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, “Other Americas: Transnationalism, Scholarship, and the Culture of Poverty in Mexico and the United States,” Hispanic American Historical Review 89, no. 4 (2009): 610. Claudio Lomnitz-Adler offers another formulation of indigenismo, that of, “indigenizing modernity and… modernizing the Indians” in “Bordering on Anthropology: The

Dialectics of a National Tradition in Mexico,” Revue de Synthèse 121, no. 3-4 (July-Dec., 2000):


For education, see Brooke Larson’s recent work on the Warista school, and for the 1945 Bolivian indigenous congress, see Laura Gotkowitz, A Revolution for Our Rights: Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia, 1880-1952 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), chap. 7.

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indigenismo as fundamentally a “proyecto capitalista de integración.”5 In his sketching out of various positions on the so-called Indian and agrarian problems in Latin America, Díaz-Polanco derided indigenista policies, particularly those of a new generation of indigenistas, as nothing more than petty bourgeois populism.6 In the heady debates of the Mexican left in the 1970s, this denunciation, which aimed at a kind of ideological unmasking, was sufficient to condemn indigenismo as a barrier to revolutionary change.

Díaz-Polanco’s position also formed part of a broader coalescing of an existential critique of indigenista policy, with origins in the mid-1960s and one of whose clarion calls was the Mexican edited volume, De eso que se llama la antropología Mexicana, published in

1970. The authors denounced indigenista policy as folkloric, non-theoretical, and ultimately colonialist in facilitating state knowledge and abuse of indigenous peoples.

This critique became the orthodox interpretation of indigenista policy in Latin America.

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modernity and state formation, Díaz-Polanco was correct. Whether deployed in the nineteenth century by liberal elites celebrating a heroic prehispanic past, or by twentieth century agrarian reformers, indigenista politics articulated indigeneity in relation to a state project. For the vast majority of indigenista experience, indigenous peoples were objects to be acted upon, rather than active subjects. Yet from a historical perspective the story does not end there but is rather the point of departure for a substantive analysis. Just as nineteenth century liberalism was more than merely a bourgeois land-grab of indigenous communal property, indigenismo, in all its various formulations, was more                                                                                                                 “Capitalist project of integration.” Héctor Díaz-Polanco, “Indigenismo, Populismo y Marxismo,” Nueva Antropología, Año III, no.

9 (October 1978): 7-31.

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the subject of this dissertation.

I explore this history through the experience of institutions, primarily education and development agencies. These include the Secretaria de Educación Publica (SEP), the Instituto Nacional Indigenista (INI), and an indigenous research and development agency in the state of Oaxaca, the Instituto de Investigación y Integración Social del Estado de Oaxaca (IIISEO). In the process, I examine policy debates, institutional reforms and labor struggles within indigenista agencies between 1954 and 1982. The prominent actors in this story include indigenous students, teachers, anthropologists and other social scientists employed by state agencies. I examine these institutions and actors to ask how ideas about the value of indigenous language and culture shaped projects of incorporation, i.e.

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