Program

Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars , ACLS Fellowship Program

Project

The “Indian Community” in Mexican Social Thought

Project

The Indigenous Community in Mexican Social Thought

Department

History

The “Indian Community” in Mexican Social Thought

Using modern Mexico as a case study, this project examines the origins and evolution of two deeply entrenched ideas about the character of indigenous communal organization: harmony and cohesion as defining features of Indian village social relations, and communal land tenure as the natural expression of this inherent cultural solidarity. Where did these unsubstantiated ideas about Indian culture and sociability come from? How and why did they become so influential? Part one, an intellectual history, traces the philosophical assumptions underpinning the analysis of “native communities” in early sociology and anthropology. Part two, an archival-based socio-political history, describes how these conceptions shaped twentieth-century Mexican social thought, agrarian reform, and Indian policy.

The Indigenous Community in Mexican Social Thought

This study examines the origins and evolution of two persistent ideas about the character of indigenous communal organization in Mexico: harmony and cohesion as defining features of village social relations, and communal land tenure as the natural expression of this inherent cultural solidarity. Where did these unsubstantiated ideas about indigenous cultures and sociability come from? How and why did they become so influential in the social sciences? This project traces the philosophical assumptions underpinning the analysis of “native communities” in early anthropology and sociology, and describes how these conceptions shaped Mexican social thought, agrarian reform, and Indian policy from the 1890s to the 1990s.