Appointed As

Center for Mexican American Studies Postdoctoral Fellow


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


University of Texas at Austin

PhD Field of Study

PhD, Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Dissertation Abstract

"Political Spirituality and the Idea of México: From the Bourbon Reforms in New Spain to Mexican Independence (1740-1821)"

This dissertation investigates how discourses and practices of political spirituality contributed to forming an idea of México as a national entity in the early nineteenth century. During the struggles for Novohispanic Independence from 1810 to 1821, there was little consensus on what the new nation would be named. Writers, historians, and political figures used names such as “Anáhuac,” “América,” “la América Mexicana,” and “El Imperio Mexicano,” each conveying different political ambitions. The dissertation tracks the emergence of the idea of ‘México’ in texts produced during the era of the Bourbon Reforms in New Spain and the period of the Novohispanic insurgency. Against the analysis of the prominent symbols and cultural tropes pertaining to México as a mythical or ideological construct, I argue instead for the centrality of political spirituality, which in my account designates the means of finding novel ways of governing oneself and others and discerning different ways of articulating what is true or false. Political spirituality, I argue further, enabled the emergence of new subject formations such as the ‘Americano’ insurgent and of the independent ‘Mexicano.’ Along with forming subjects, political spiritualities subtended the transformations of concepts that would allow those subjects to recognize and affirm the idea of México.
This interdisciplinary inquiry brings together studies of political history, religion, the history of ideas, and philosophical anthropology. Approaching the emergence of the idea of Mexico through the lens of political spirituality allows me to draw on contemporary theories of the proper name and the concept as a way to tie spiritual practices to material conditions, discursive frameworks, and practical exigencies. This project contributes to a body of historical scholarship on the role of religion and religious discourse in the emergence of the Mexican nation and state. By exploring spirituality as a practice that is not intrinsically religious, this project seeks to shed light on different ways in which spiritual discourses and practices produce material effects. The dissertation represents an initial step toward a fuller genealogy of the idea of Mexico, its potentialities, promises, and limitations.