Medium 9781457109614

Forjando Patria

Views: 652
Ratings: (0)

Often considered the father of anthropological studies in Mexico, Manuel Gamio originally published Forjando Patria in 1916. This groundbreaking manifesto for a national anthropology of Mexico summarizes the key issues in the development of anthropology as an academic discipline and the establishment of an active field of cultural politics in Mexico. Written during the upheaval of the Mexican Revolution, the book has now been translated into English for the first time. Armstrong-Fumero's translation allows readers to develop a more nuanced understanding of this foundational work, which is often misrepresented in contemporary critical analyses. As much about national identity as anthropology, this text gives Anglophone readers access to a particular set of topics that have been mentioned extensively in secondary literature but are rarely discussed with a sense of their original context. Forjando Patria also reveals the many textual ambiguities that can lend themselves to different interpretations. The book highlights the history and development of Mexican anthropology and archaeology at a time when scholars in the United States are increasingly recognizing the importance of cross-cultural collaboration with their Mexican colleagues. It will be of interest to anthropologists and archaeologists studying the region, as well as those involved in the history of the discipline.

List price: $37.00

Your Price: $29.60

You Save: 20%

 

34 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1 Forjando Patria

ePub

In the great forge of America, on the anvil of the Andes, the bronze and iron of virile races have been alloyed for centuries and centuries.

When the task of mixing and blending peoples came to the brown arms of Atahualpa and Moctezuma, a miraculous tie was consummated. The same blood swelled the veins of the Americans, and their intellectuality flowed through the same paths. There were small patrias: the Aztec, the Maya-Kiché, the Inca . . . that would later perhaps have grouped together and melded into great indigenous patrias, as the patrias of China and Japan were in the same age. But it could not be thus. When other men, another blood, other ideas arrived with Columbus, the crucible that unified the race was tragically overturned and the mold in which the Nationality was created and the Patria crystallized fell to pieces.

During the colonial centuries, the first forges of noble nationalist impulses also burned, only the Pizarros and Ávilas just intended to build incomplete patrias, since they valued only the steel of the Latin race, leaving the crude indigenous bronze on the slag heap.

 

2 Patrias and Nationalities of Latin America

ePub

With few exceptions, one does not find the characteristics that are inherent in a defined and integrated nationality in most Latin American countries. In these countries, there is neither a generalized idea nor a unanimous feeling of what a Patria is. Instead, there are small patrias and local nationalisms.

This state of affairs is evident at the occasional congresses that bring together the representatives of these countries. The Second Pan-American Scientific Conference and the XIX Congress of Americanists, held in Washington, D.C., last December and January, provided an interesting and ample field in which to observe this point. As a whole, the delegations attending both congresses represented the race, language, and culture of no more than 25 percent of the populations of their respective countries. They represented the Spanish and Portuguese languages and the race and civilization of European origin. The remaining 75 percent of those populations, composed of men of indigenous race, indigenous language, and indigenous civilization, was not represented. A few researchers at the conference mentioned this indigenous population, but only in ethnological terms, as the object of scholarly speculation. In a sense, the existence of these 75 million Americans goes unnoticed by all of the so-called civilized world. The languages that they speak are unknown; we are ignorant of their physical nature and of their ethical and religious ideas. Their habits and customs are unknown to us.

 

3 The Department of Anthropology

ePub

It is a given that anthropology, in its true and amplest conception, should be the basic form of knowledge for good government. Through anthropology, one gains awareness of the population that is the source of both rulers and those who are ruled over. Through anthropology, one can characterize the abstract and physical nature of men and peoples and deduce the appropriate methods to facilitate their normal evolutionary development.

Unfortunately, the necessities of the different peoples that inhabit our country have been unknown to the government and public. The same problem is evident in almost all of the Latin American countries. Because of this, the evolution of these countries has been abnormal. The minority formed by people whose race and civilization are derived from Europe has furthered its own development, abandoning the majority made up of people of indigenous race and culture. In some cases, that abandonment was intentional. But even in those rare cases where the population of European race and civilization attempted to bring about the economic and cultural betterment of the indigenous majority, they did so without knowing its nature, its way of being, its aspirations and needs. Their failures have taught us that some means of bettering the conditions of the indigenous population are inappropriate and ill-informed. Our ignorance results from the fact that the indigenous population has not been studied sensibly. The national population has but few contacts with them, through commercial interactions or by engaging the indigenous population in different forms of servitude. The indigenous soul, culture, and ideals are therefore unknown to us.

 

4 The Redemption of the Indigenous Class

ePub

Nine years ago, the author of this book attempted to publish articles in several Mexico City newspapers to criticize the “personal contributions” or “derechos de capitación” that survived in many states of the republic as a bitter relic of long-gone encomiendas. All of the newspapers refused to comment on the issue. The author was nevertheless able to publish the following lines in the magazine Modern Mexico, which was published in New York and circulated in Mexico.

“When I admire the great works of the Japanese people, their precocity, and inexhaustible energy, I must naturally contemplate the painful miseries that afflict our poor indigenous class.

“Viewing the ethnico-social characteristics of the Indian, one finds very important factors that could lead to his decisive and transcendent regeneration.

“One is surprised by the Indians’ vitality as much as by their vigorous physical nature. Their physiology is intriguing, since we find very few countries in which the human body is so productive in spite of a lack of nutrition. Also, the Indian has intellectual qualities comparable to those of any race.

 

5 Prejudices Against the Indigenous Race and Its History

ePub

In The Mind of Primitive Man, an interesting work in which Dr. Franz Boas compiles his lectures from Harvard and Mexico, the chapter on racial prejudices is especially worthy of attention. The illustrious professor condemns prejudices regarding the aptitudes of different human groups and proves that the innate inferiority that is ascribed to some groups does not exist. Deficiencies in aptitude are produced by historical, biological, and geographic causes; that is, by education and environment. When these causes are changed, perceived inferiorities disappear. It is indispensable that such logical ideas should be popularized among us, as we are a nation composed of ethnically heterogeneous social groups, each of which has developed along divergent paths. Our progress as a nation has not been synchronous.

The great problem of studying Mexico’s indigenous families and their future has always been addressed with naïve and superficial prejudices. There are those who see the indigenous social group as a barrier to the progress of the whole, as an element that is resistant to all culture and destined to perish like a sterile field in which no seed flourishes. They believe that this justifies the unfortunate state in which the Indian has lived for four centuries. At the other extreme, those who practice and preach the work of Indianism exalt the capacities of the Indian beyond all limits, considering him superior to Europeans in intellectual and physical aptitudes. They say that if the Indian had not been trapped and oppressed by foreign races, he would now supersede the European in culture. They use Juarez, Altamirano,1 and other isolated cases of illustrious Indians to support their opinions.

 

6 Sociology and Government

ePub

Sociologists observe and record social phenomena with a scientific methodology, but the laws that they attempt to deduce from these data are often anything but scientific. If they were, it would be possible to predict the occurrence of different social phenomena and to ensure the well-being of peoples, something that has been attempted since the beginning of time but that has never been achieved. These problems have emerged in all of the nations where true sociological investigations have been undertaken.

This situation is compounded in Mexico, where sociological laws have never been formulated. This is to be expected, given that this science has never been applied to our population through proper investigation and methods. But even if our rulers do not need scientifically tested social laws in order to govern, it is indispensable that they know the characteristics of the individuals and groups that they are to rule over, so that they might consistently attend to their necessities and seek their betterment.

 

7 Knowledge of the Population

ePub

It is not possible to determine the necessities of a people, or to seek their improvement, without knowing their statistics. Statistics is a systematic synthesis of the economic, ethnological, biological, and other characteristics of human groups. Knowing these characteristics leads to understanding the necessities of the population and how to address them. In Mexico, statistical studies have tended to focus on the quantitative evaluation of the population, almost never accounting for qualitative factors. This has been the cause for endless political failures.

The ruler should have the sociologist as his guide, and the work of the sociologist rests on the foundation of statistics. Statistics is itself founded on the harmonic integration of scientifically collected empirical data that are pertinent to economic, geographic, ethnological, and other phenomena. When one is forced to rely on isolated empirical data gathered in an unsystematic manner, statistics becomes like a commercial inventory that can only name and list individual objects. The sociologist is transformed into a juggler, because he uses meaningless and disconnected data to deduce social principles and laws that are useless in the real world. If the ruler rules without consulting such a sociologist, he rules badly. If he does consult him, his rule is even worse. It is less prejudicial to rule a people by serving their needs directly and superficially than by detailed plans based on disconcerting and ill-conceived conclusions.

 

8 Some Considerations on Statistics

ePub

First, statistics is a conjunction of qualitative and quantitative data that refer to the population and to its activities at home and abroad.

Second, these data should be systematically and empirically collected so that they have legitimate value and do not falsify the result of calculations that will later be made with them.

Third, mathematical procedures are applied such that comparisons, sums, and correlations can be drawn from these data. Groups, classes, and series will be formed. Maximums and minimums will be obtained, as well as averages, medians, and percentages and so forth. This will be expressed graphically through diagrams when necessary.

Fourth, when these data are observed by persons of real competence, the probable causes of certain unfavorable social phenomena can be deduced and means can be suggested by which these phenomena can be turned into favorable ones. In this way, it is possible to promote the physical, intellectual, and economic development of the population.

Given these general guidelines, which are universally accepted in regard to statistical studies, we will evaluate the positive value of works of statistics already conducted in Mexico and speak of some innovations that could be implemented in order to obtain truly practical results in the future.

 

9 The Work of Art in Mexico

ePub

It seems risky to classify all of the manifestations of art that exist in Mexico—architecture, sculpture, painting, ceramics, pottery, decorative arts, and so forth. Besides being diverse and little-studied, these art forms differ in terms of their cultural origin, character, technique, and symbolic value. But by having a basic knowledge of the characteristics of Western art, examining the art of the pre-Hispanic period, and studying how the two have influenced each other, one can make the following provisional classification:

1) The work of pre-Hispanic art;

2) The foreign work of art;

3) The work of traditional art that emerged through evolutionary incorporation and the work of traditional art that emerged through systematic incorporation;

4) The work of art of reappearance, by copy; the work of art of spontaneous reappearance.

This type of art was produced in Mexico until the arrival of the Conquest. Its most interesting manifestations, when compared with objects of the same antiquity in the Orient and Occident, included architecture, feather art, lapidary art, artistic metallurgy of gold and copper, ceramics, profuse and original decoration. Distinctive architectural elements included the corbelled arch, the plastering and polishing of walls and floors, and mural painting. There was also a pavement made of superimposed coats of a concrete made from pumice, conglomerates, and lime. The pre-Hispanic architects employed a column made with a base, shaft, and capital and a prismatic pillar with pyramidal base. All of these artistic and technical achievements can be considered along with a thousand other details that the brevity of this article forces us to omit. Overall, they denote great powers of observation and constructive knowledge among the pre-Hispanic architects, as well as the aesthetic sense that can be observed in the marvelous decorations of their buildings. The same can be said of their gold and silver jewelry, smelted, beaten, and “braided,” and the opulent mosaics of feathers, turquoise, rock crystal, and jade. This type of art was produced by the civilizations of the Maya, Aztecs, Teotihuacanos, and Mixteco-Zapotec, and others.

 

10 The Concept of Pre-Hispanic Art

ePub

Works of art that are unearthed by archaeologists are often qualified as aesthetic or anti-aesthetic. But why they are thus qualified is almost never explained. Archaeological2 art is judged subjectively, as each person thinks that it should be, and not as it is. It is prejudged, not judged, since we have not developed a real sensibility toward the archaeological work of art.

What is artistic about pre-Hispanic artistic productions? Does an archaeological sample cease to be artistic because of the simple fact that it does not inspire us toward an aesthetic emotion that is equal to that inspired by a Classical or modern artwork? It is doubtless that, given how ignorant we are of pre-Hispanic history, these objects do not appear artistic according to our aesthetic sense. Still, there is no logical reason why this art should be denied the artistic character that it had for earlier peoples. We should also ask ourselves why it is that some archaeological productions seem artistic to us and others do not, even if all of them possessed an artistic character when they were created.

 

11 Art and Science in the Period of Independence

ePub

Our historians have conducted nuanced investigations regarding the social and economic innovations that followed independence from Spain. But little attention has been paid to other innovations of artistic and scientific character that took place during the same period. In the Colonial period, the Mexican population of Spanish origin was similar to the people of Spain in most respects. In Mexico as in Spain, art had attained an evolutionary development that was far in advance of the scientific knowledge of the same period. A profusion of anonymous artists existed for every Hernandez or Alzate1 who made his sporadic contributions to scientific knowledge. Silently and patiently, they created that lofty and extensive work of beauty that is our colonial art.

By the turn of the eighteenth century, activities that contributed to the production of the beautiful enjoyed complete supremacy over scientific research. Our colonial architecture had reached such an interesting development that even the extravagant descriptions of Humboldt do not exaggerate its beauty. Even miserable villages that were lost in the mountains or buried in the valleys, and that were home to fewer than a hundred souls, had beautiful buildings crowned by the brilliant polychromy of high tiled domes and the filigreed stone of statues and crosses. The Romanesque, the Plateresque, the Baroque, the Churrigueresque, the Mudejar, the Classical, all lofty styles that contributed a typical unique aspect to our art. American sensibilities and historical antecedents imposed forms onto these styles that made them distinct from the European original. Besides the purely aesthetic concerns, this architecture adapted European forms to regional climatic conditions, such as high ceilings, ample corridors, spacious courtyards, floors of tile and brick, and so forth.

 

12 Department of Fine Arts

ePub

In Mexico today, there are a great many directorates and institutes: the Department of Public Works, the Geological Institute, the Medical Institute, and so on and so on. There is not, however, a Department of Fine Arts. If it is well and good that special institutions exist for the cultivation of the sciences, is it not logical that art should also have its altars or worshippers in Mexico?

In almost all countries, art offers the supreme expression and ultimate essence of human activities. The same does not happen in Mexico. In this marvelous country, where we all believe ourselves to be touched by the artistic madness, there is almost no artistic production. Anarchy and aesthetic chauvinism rule. Among us, there are impeccable Hellenists who live with and truly experience Homer, who only appreciate the Classical forms and rhythmic proportions of the Parthenon, who only comprehend the serene figures of Phidias. Others commune with the aesthetic credo of the Renaissance. Others admire the beauty of colonial art. There are those who are moved aesthetically by viewing the creations of pre-Hispanic artists. We also have cubists, divisionists, futurists, and other poorly understood “exoticists” incorporated into our Mexican artistic scene.

 

13 There Is No Prehistory!

ePub

Such an affirmation can be made unequivocally, without fear of being contradicted. There has been no lack of hypotheses about the existence of prehistoric man in Mexico. Peñon Man, Tequixquiac Man, Chapala Man, and who knows how many other fabulous men have been proposed for intellectual debate. But a scientific naïveté that was forgivable a quarter-century ago is inadmissible and ridiculous today.

Fortunately, the sin was not ours alone. Many researchers insisted until recently that there was a prehistoric American man. The most famous among them, Ameghino,1 dedicated the greater part of his life to demonstrating the presence of that ancient man in the Argentine pampas. ,2 the most learned among the opponents of such a theory, has used the strictest scientific method and consulted all of the investigations undertaken to date to deduce that American man is not prehistoric but contemporary or modern. This hypothesis is supported by the geological context of American man. We will cite some proofs.

 

14 Synthetic Concept of Archaeology

ePub

For some, archaeology is nothing more than a way of passing the time. Archaeological investigations are a way of determining if Moctezuma wore rope or leather sandals on his feet, or of knowing if Cuauhtémoc did his own “manicure” or entrusted this to bronzed “toiletistes.” Other wags whisper that archaeologists hunt for a depository of Toltec “unfalsifiables,” as they cannot believe that a serious man would find interest in unearthing a bunch of stones with “monkeys” and hieroglyphics on them. There are also those who think that our antiquities should be preserved “just because” or “because they are pretty.” Unfortunately, that loss of public esteem is justified by the deeds of many frauds who call themselves archaeologists, with the same justification that they might call themselves pedicurists or astronomers. In archaeology as in good fortune, there have been many who are called but few who are chosen. We must therefore unmask that intellectual rabble that has been destroying and discrediting the monuments of our past.

 

15 The Values of History

ePub

Values of history—it seems to us that history has two values: the speculative and the transcendent. History is essentially the collection of information about the nature, origin, character evolution, and tendencies of past civilizations. When this information exists passively in libraries or in the minds of men, the value of history is only theoretical. But history offers a transcendent value if we think of it as a copious archive, as an inexhaustible fountain of the experiences through which humanity has reached its diverse stages of florescence and decadence. This is especially the case when we use those experiences to improve the well-being of contemporary civilizations. The careful observation and progressive application of these past experiences give us an important perspective on the progress and ascendant march of humanity. This is the case with scientific knowledge, which becomes more extensive and better grounded every day. This said, we cannot overgeneralize about the course of history, as there are many cases in which evolution has not been ascendant, in spite of the influence of previous historical experiences. For example, art and morality ascend and decay through cycles in which the experience of the past is no impediment to the repetition of certain patterns.

 

16 Revision of the Latin American Constitutions

ePub

We have noted how the legislative bodies of the future should pay greater attention to the anthropological study of the populations that they govern. In this way, the constitution and general laws of the country can provide the most efficient and authoritative means with which to meet the needs and seek the well-being of the population. This should be the only objective of any constitution. It was also noted that individuals of Indian race, or those in whom that blood predominates, constitute the great majority of the national population. The rest of the population is made up of individuals of European blood, or those who have this in a greater proportion to indigenous blood. Up until now, the constitutions and legislations of independent Mexico had been derived exclusively from the needs of this latter group and have tended to promote its betterment. The Indian population was left in a greater state of abandon by these laws than it had been under the famous Laws of the Indies created by the Spanish monarchy. These colonial laws constituted a powerful barrier against the exploitation of the Indians and forbade the enslavement of the Indian. Even if they were not entirely free, at least the Indians were never slaves in the way that individuals of the black race were. Other colonial laws prohibited the Inquisition from rending the Indians with its claws, as it did the whites. The legal protection of collective landholdings permitted the Indians to cultivate their lands patriarchally and to preserve many aspects of their pre-Hispanic system of land distribution.

 

17 Our Laws and Our Legislators

ePub

In the previous chapter, we discussed one of the propositions that the Mexican delegation presented before the Second Pan-American Scientific Congress that took place in Washington, D.C., which was the convenience of revising and reforming the constitutions and laws of Latin American countries. In this chapter, we will refer to the qualities required of our legislators, so that they may conscientiously develop their lofty task.

With very few exceptions, the legislative bodies of Mexico have been composed of individuals who represent the inhabitants of their respective political entities in a theoretical or nominal manner. Mexico City and the other political centers of the federation were the fertile wombs from which the highest percentage of political representatives sprang. Many regions of the country were never represented by individuals born in them or who were even familiar with the living conditions there. This naturally contributed to the political preeminence of some regions and the marginalization of others. Because of this, we say that representation was theoretical at best.

 

18 Politics and Its Values

ePub

The success of any enterprise, the efficiency of any work, requires that it be composed of basic elements that have real value. In order for the collaboration of political parties in the recently reconstructed government to be useful and efficient, it is necessary for those parties to possess a practical, positive value. If our older notions of politics are to persist, it is better that political parties not reemerge.

In general, our professional politicians have been of little value in and of themselves. They have lacked individual efficiency. Their true character becomes evident in exile, where all of those who were able to misappropriate power and money now live. Other politicians, the majority, carry on miserably, intellectually incapacitated and impotent for physical effort. In all countries, the sun shines and there is work for those who love to work. How else, but as parasites and frauds, can we refer to individuals that seem like glorious figures at home and then go to other lands to feast on embezzled monies or who would never lower themselves to earn their bread honorably? What national transcendence can we expect from associations or parties formed by this type of abnormal being?

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000003948
Isbn
9781457109614
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata