c o n c l u s i o n s
The Consequences of Modernity
In the weeks surrounding the centennial celebration of the declaration of inde-
pendence on September 16, 1910, colorful flags and spirited music filled the streets
of the Emerald City. As we have seen, city officials promoted the festivities as the
apotheosis of the Porfirian project. Event organizers scripted the city’s inhabi-
tants into a narrative of modernity that at once envisioned a prosperous future
and extolled the virtues of the region’s traditions, as best expressed in its indige-
nous past. The capital city was on display and meant to embody the class-, race-,
and gender-specific forms of modern development prescribed by its ruling elites.
Like many other provincial cities in Mexico and Latin America, Oaxaca City was
the principal site of modernity for its region’s inhabitants. Throughout the Porfi-
riato, the capital’s citizens negotiated modernity in different ways to promote or
consolidate their own positions in society. Ultimately, however, the multiplicity
of these visions and the ruling class’s discursive and material need to position
itself apart from a denigrated ‘‘other’’ exposed the fragmented nature of mo-
dernity and undercut its claim to universality. While elites claimed that moder-
nity brought stability and prosperity to the state capital (witness the Porfirian
motto: ‘‘Order and Progress’’), the constant need to revise knowledge and percep-
tions (what Anthony Giddens calls the ‘‘reflexivity’’) of fundamental social cate-
gories such as race and gender and a dependence on what is not ‘‘modern’’ para-
doxically brought only disorder and
anxiety.1
When they envisioned modernity in
the Emerald City, elites excluded the vast majority of the population. The conse-
quences of modernity in Oaxaca City were grave and led to the undoing of the
state capital’s Porfirian-based government. The uneven advance and the contra-
dictory, often paradoxical and contingent nature of ‘‘modernization’’ unsettled
elite power and attempts to consolidate rule.
City officials took advantage of their connections with Díaz, state government
officials, and foreign and Mexican capitalists to forge an elite vision of moder-
nity and a sustained hegemony during the first half of the Porfiriato. Intermar-
[ 153 ]
Previous Page Next Page