Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Waking the Gods: Archaeology and State Power in Porfirian Mexico
by Kelly, Larissa Kennedy, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011, 309; 3498841
Abstract (Summary)

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the federal government of Mexico made concerted attempts to define, control, and manage a national archaeological patrimony. While these efforts had precedents dating back to the colonial period, the administration of Porfirio Díaz cemented connections between archaeology and state power. Core principles and administrative structures established during the Porfiriato withstood the Revolution of 1910, and continued to shape uses of the material past during the post-Revolutionary era. However, Porfirian efforts to assert control over pre-Hispanic sites and artifacts also met with resistance from a variety of foreign and domestic sources. My dissertation examines interactions between federal bureaucrats, site caretakers, professors of the National Museum, local community members, regional officials, scholars, explorers, and travelers to examine how state power was enacted—and how it faltered—on the ground.

Much scholarship on the history of Mexican archaeology focuses on changing intellectual approaches to the Mesoamerican past, or the symbolic and rhetorical uses of pre-Hispanic imagery. In contrast, I emphasize the administrative and legal practices by which the Porfirian regime asserted its authority over physical sites and artifacts. In particular, I look closely at the workings of the Inspección y Conservación de Monumentos Arqueólogicos (Inspectorate of Archaeological Monuments), an agency founded in 1885 to monitor the uses of pre-Hispanic sites and serve as a general clearinghouse for archaeological affairs. Under the direction of Leopoldo Batres, the Inspección played an active role in enforcing the prerogatives and property claims of the federal government. I argue that while the reach and influence of the federal archaeological bureaucracy increased considerably over the course of the Porfiriato, its authority remained fraught and contingent in application. Again and again, individuals and communities resisted or subverted the programs of the archaeological bureaucracy, forcing federal administrators to negotiate rather than command. Through detailed descriptions of specific incidents, I analyze competing uses of the pre-Hispanic material past in order to trace out some of the complexities of Mexican state formation during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chowning, Margaret
Commitee: Joyce, Rosemary, Lesch, John E.
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: History
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Latin American history, Cultural Resources Management, Science history
Keywords: Archaeological bureaucracy, Archaeology, Batres, Leopoldo, Inspeccion y Conservacion de Monumentos Arqueologicos, Mexico, Museum, Porfiriato
Publication Number: 3498841
ISBN: 978-1-267-22657-0
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