This book focuses on modern Mexico to examine a problem of extraordi-
nary contemporary relevance: the manner in which local societies and
C'Jltures, revolutionary processes, and states are articulated historically.
The idea grew out of a series of discussions between the editors and Maria
Teresa Koreck at the Center for US-Mexican Studies in Lalolla, Califor-
nia, where all were Visiting Research Fellows between 1986 and 1989.
The three of us agreed that, despite impressive advances over the past two
decades, historical writing on the Mexican revolution had fallen into
something of a rut. Scholars continued to churn out impeccably re-
searched local monographs, and the first important national syntheses in
decades had just burst upon the scene. Still, debate continued in predict-
able channels: Had the revolution, warts and all, been a truly popular
affair, so popular that it made a significant difference in the way power
and resources were henceforth distributed and managed? Or had the
revolution been betrayed by its own, Machiavellian, (not so) revolution-
ary leaders and the muscular central state they had resurrected?
Of course, there were arguments to be marshalled on both sides, and
writers recycled them endlessly, plugging in a new locale or "region" with
each successive iteration. Nevertheless, it struck us that from an interpre-
tive standpoint, scholars seemed bent on transforming a complex revolu-
tionary process-itself part of a broader, multi stranded historical tapes-
try-into a single
In the bargain they lined up in a historiographical
rendition of the proverbial "Mexican standoff." On one side, the event
was singled out as the culminating moment of heroic struggle in Mexican
history; on the other, it was held to signal the ultimate triumph of the
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