Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, History, Cornell University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Yale University
State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes: Mapping, Surveying and the Spatial Creation of Modern Mexico, 1850-1930

My project seeks to understand how cartography functioned as a tool in the construction of the Mexican post-colonial state and as a medium expressive of power relationships in the contested process of state formation. I intend, first, to analyze the ways in which geography and its system of representation, cartography, functioned as a knowledge system in the cultural and political formation of modern Mexico; and second, to examine the interplay between state cartography and the vernacular landscapes of local campesinos. Spanning the period from the survey of the Mexican-US border in 1853 to the land reforms of the post-revolutionary 1930s, my project will test two hypotheses: that state-produced maps were often idealized models for, rather than of, what they claimed to represent; and that popular, campesino conceptions of land and territory played a crucial role in the shaping of the modern nation-state. Relying on sources and archives rarely used by historians, I will write a nuanced history of the spatial formation of Mexico's modern nation-state which puts both peasants and elites at the center of analysis.