Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Southern University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Duke University
Ink under the Fingernails: Mexico City Printers and the Material Politics of Print, 1810-1910

My dissertation project examines Mexico City's printing industry—its oft-neglected participants and sites of production—to recast our understanding of print's crucial role in independent Mexico's history. I argue that printers were integral mediators in the major conflicts that shaped newly independent Mexico's historical development. By asking how printed materials were produced across the nineteenth century, my research reveals that Mexico City printers were central not only because they issued texts that engaged in and fueled such conflicts, but also because they maintained close business and political dealings with the federal government. While historians of Mexico's first century of state formation have focused either on metropolitan elites or rural and urban popular sectors, my work explores the socially mixed space of the printshop, where a diverse group of men—from manual laborers to educated editors—navigated difficult economic and political realities as they worked to produce printed materials for diverse and often fractious audiences. Scholars of the press have relied on abstract notions—particularly theories that link expanding print capitalism to the rise of a public sphere—rather than trace print's growing role in forming the nation's politics and culture. My project focuses instead on print production itself: its main actors, their social position and professional practices, and printed products (considered as visual and material objects that used design and images to influence viewer experience beyond literacy) in order to understand how printers acted as key but controversial mediators in Mexico's political and cultural debates. Examining these material politics of print, I argue, challenges misleading dichotomies—between text and image, literate and oral, worker and intellectual, public and private—and opens a new way to interpret Mexico's dramatic century of conflict, consolidation and crisis: as it formed on the printshop floor.