Week 7: The Export Boom as Modernity

The link that Dawson makes between photography and modernity is very interesting to me. Growing up in an era where cellphones and taking pictures or “selfies” is not uncommon, thinking of having your picture taken and have the many aspects about it define who you are, is very intriguing. The way you dress, the way you gaze and the position you take can have so many implications it was eye-opening to me. Take for example, the picture of Mexican president Benito Juarez in figure 4.2, where his stance, position, gaze and dress makes him look like an upper-class white male, when in truth, he looks more Mexican when color is added. In that regard, it is fascinating to think about the societal and political ramifications of having a good or bad picture taken.

My first thoughts of reading that some indigenous people were “forcibly recruited to [a] school (Casa del Estudiante Indigena)”, was that “is that such a bad thing?”. On second thoughts, the harrowing stories of residential schools here in Canada soon popped into my head. Reading that “most [indigenous] remained there voluntarily and refused to leave Mexico City once their studies were complete”, was a much better ending than of the residential schools here.

In the interview and article by James Creelman on Porfirio Diaz, the first thing that stuck out to me was how Diaz wanted to peacefully transition himself out of government. His intent on wanting democracy to work and the acknowledgment that the United States would cringe at the thought of a third presidential term, was unheard of to me. He seemed very genuine and true to his beliefs that if the people like the president then they should be able to re-elect them. However, we have continually seen instances like this where Diaz aptly puts, “’it is quite true that when has occupied a powerful office for a very long time he is likely to begin to upon it as his personal property’”. Additionally, Diaz seems to be very genuine and respectable through this interview. His thoughts on the indigenous and why democracy isn’t working at that point in time is very accurate because of some of the ideologies that the Spanish had implemented before his reign. Creelman repeatedly pulls out many positive attributes about Diaz’s tenure as president that it seems almost like a piece of propaganda. Were there any negative or controversial aspects of his time as President?

~Austin Chang

2 thoughts on “Week 7: The Export Boom as Modernity

  1. I found the photography section of the chapter the most interesting too. Especially with the Mexican president, it made me think about how he would be perceived by the public having that kind of portrait represent him.

  2. Porfirio Díaz strikes me as a hypocrite due to his manipulation and contradictions. Despite what Porfirio Díaz has done, Creelman definitely glorifies Díaz to make him more appealing to Northern American and Western societies to enhance his reputation and Mexico’s reputation as a whole. The process of glorifying Díaz makes him into an ideal figure and makes his mistakes more apparent to the people who are looking to criticize him.

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