Labor, Idleness, and the Economic Imaginary of Independence
Mexico, Interrupted investigates these economic hopes during the difficult decades between 1821, the year of the country’s definite separation from Spain, and 1852, a period of political polarization after the US-Mexico War that led the country to the brink of another armed conflict. Drawing on political and popular media, this book studies the Mexican intelligentsia’s obsession with labor and idleness in their attempts to create a wealthy, independent nation.
Focusing on figures of work and its opposites, Mexico, Interrupted reconstructs these decades’ “economic imaginaries of independence”: the political and cultural discourses that structured understandings, beliefs, and fantasies of the relationship between “the economy” and the life of an independent polity. By bringing together intellectual history, critical theory, and cultural studies, Gutiérrez Negrón offers a new account of the Mexican nineteenth century and complicates the history of the “spirit of capitalism” in the Americas.
1. The Colono: The Territory, the Future of Labor and the Subject of Production
2. The Artisan: Industrialization, Labor, and the Modernization of Customs
3. The Vagrant: Vagrancy, Police, and the Opacity of the Social
"I do not recall any recent study about Mexican culture and history so original and insightful. Imagine a thorough reflection on independence with such a different, almost wild lens: labor and leisure. Outstanding."
—Pedro Ángel Palou, author of México: La Novela
“A fascinating account of the intellectual currents and undercurrents of a key period in Mexican history. Mexico, Interrupted shows how, despite debates and clashes about political forms and projects (about empire, centralism, federalism), when it came to labor there was surprising continuity in narratives of economic growth and development. A pleasure to read.”
—Ingrid Bleynat, author of Vendors' Capitalism: A Political Economy of Public Markets in Mexico City
"Using an impressive range of political texts, Gutiérrez Negrón reconstructs the negative archetypes that haunted the elite imaginary and informed policymaking. In doing so, he illuminates the repressive logics behind top-down efforts to promote capital accumulation after independence, contributing the cultural and intellectual histories of Mexican state formation."
—Corinna Zeltsman, author of Ink under the Fingernails: Printing Politics in Nineteenth-Century Mexico
"Mexico, Interrupted is a fascinating, thorough, and beautifully written study of Mexican elites’ fantasies and anxieties about labor and idleness in the first half of the 19th century."
—Ana Sabau, author of Riot and Rebellion in Mexico: The Making of a Race War Paradigm