The overthrow of dictator Porfirio Díaz in 1911 began a decade of bloody
strife and social upheaval known as the Mexican Revolution. By 1920, the
triumph of a faction of warlords and civilian politicos ended the revolution’s
armed phase.∞ As the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (pri, Party of the
Institutionalized Revolution), it held power until the year 2000. While al-
most every other Latin American nation experienced long periods of mili-
tary rule or divisive social conflict during the Cold War, the pri ruled with-
out recourse to systematic repression. If not strictly democratic, the pri
regime was stable, inclusive, and favored by the United States.
Over the past two decades, scholars seeking to explain the pri’s longevity
and apparent popular support have moved away from Marxist-inspired so-
cioeconomic determinism. Instead, they have closely examined the ruling
party’s negotiations with diverse popular groups. Two complementary con-
cepts drawn from Antonio Gramsci’s political theory, ‘‘hegemony’’ and
‘‘civil society,’’ have become increasingly prominent in postrevolutionary
historiography. The former term posits that successful state formation re-
quires both coercion and consent. Only negotiation and compromise with
key social sectors creates hegemony. The concept of hegemony encouraged
scholars to look beyond narrow institutional politics to the broader category
of political culture. Consequently, Mexico’s civil society—politically active
groups in society that enabled the state to rule—received much closer atten-
tion.≤ By the end of the 1990s, a generation of scholars, especially those
identified with the New Cultural History of Mexico, had opened up promis-
ing new vistas on the process of postrevolutionary state formation.≥ The
academic gaze shifted to the participation of subaltern groups in politics,
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