Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics in Porfirian Mexico

By Pistrick, Eckehard | Western Folklore, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics in Porfirian Mexico


Pistrick, Eckehard, Western Folklore


Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics in Porfirian Mexico. By Mattiiew D. Esposito. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010. Pp. xvi + 332, illustrations, appendices, index. $29.95 paper.)

Considering funerals not only as rituals but also as identity-generating events with underlying political messages has become a popular topic in anthropological and historical studies, particularly since Katherine Verdery's milestone publication The Political Life of Dead Bodies (1999). Historian Matdiew D. Esposito follows Verdery's lead from a distinct historical perspective, delving into a transitional and instable period of Mexican history (1876-1890) beginning with die deadi of President Benito Juárez and ending with die establishment of a durable hegemonic state under Porfirio Díaz.

Esposito follows in his book die diirty-five years of the Porfirian regime and the 110 state funerals organized during that period scrupulously, and in descriptive detail. The audior argues diat cultural politics and a national mydiology have been grounded in a particular use and political instrumentalization of dead bodies, particularly those of national heroes. Through commemorating die dead - and mobilizing die media resources of diat time - political authority could be built most effectively. Esposito presented this hypothesis in an earlier article published in 2005 in The Americas.

Throughout the book Esposito is interested in the strong links between national and cultural identity, and acts of memory and death as a ritual. He analyzes funerals as public events, which at times resemble popular street parties. Drawing on the notion of "entertaining funerals," he points out die fact that feasts and funerals were not as strictly divided as one might expect but functioned predominantly as popular happenings. He interprets this as the regime's attempt to actively involve popular classes in the processes of political legitimization and nation-building. At the same time, Esposito argues that funerals did not serve only as quiet and solemn manifestations of mourning and state power but also functioned on another level as subversive happenings of unorganized crowds demonstrating transgressive behaviour. Both points of view are not new, but were rather put forward in Joâojosé Reis' discussion of funeral rites and rebellion in nineteenth century Brazil (1991, English translation 2003).

The descriptive and often captivating examples Esposito provides - including rare photographs and popular prints that are reproduced in the book - show in detail the political strategies the state employed for a reconciliation of the nation. In this context Esposito underlines that funerals also took on a role in promoting a particular vision of modernity and religiosity. The fact that funeral processions were organized by using the train or the tram illustrates how the Porfirian regime embraced modernity publicly. A modem funeral industry also emerged at the same time. Funeral practice had important social implications. During this period, the state moved to give costìy funerals not only to generals, but also to honoured citizens, illustrating to the Western world that the regime had overcome militarism. At the same time, state burials were held without crosses, priests and candles: Esposito interprets this move as a distancing from Catholic religiosity and as a step towards a "civic religion. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Funerals, Festivals, and Cultural Politics in Porfirian Mexico
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.