Week 7 The Export Boom as Modernity

Once again, I am absolutely fascinated by what we’re learning this week. I think that it is so interesting learning about the history of Latin America, especially because in high school all I was taught was the history of Europe, Canada, and a little bit of the United States. My education has been very focussed on the western world, the “developed” part of the world. The picture was painted with the western countries at the top, the most advanced and “modern” and all the other countries either not mentioned, or explained as trailing behind, at the heels of the west.

It is completely incorrect and extremely ignorant to think in this manner, and I am glad that my knowledge on the subject has increased drastically. Personally, I loved Creelman’s essay focussing on Porfirio Diaz, Mexico’s beloved president for 27 years. First of all, I enjoyed the poetic nature in which this article was written. It adds to the emotional appeal, and creates quite a lovely image for the reader to picture. Second, I enjoyed how the modernity of Mexico was really accentuated, and as you read, you understand just how much Diaz had done in order to create the strong and modern nation that Mexico had become. It is incredible, just how much work Diaz had put in, in order to make the country that he loves a better and more developed place. It’s amazing to learn that extreme measures were taken by the government in order for Mexico to prosper, for example, members of the government giving up a salary for many years in order to help pay off Mexico’s debts. The passion and authentic love that these people have for their country is truly heart warming and inspiring.

Another interesting thing I liked from this week, was in the interview with Alec Dawson when he explained what exactly modernity means. It is the mixture of innovation, emancipation, secularization and universalism, and once everyone catches up to these ideas and ways of thinking, then a society can be classified as modern. Its interesting to learn what actually goes into the logistics of a society being able to be under the category of modern.

So this week my question is, how do governments aid their people in moving into the mindset of modern? We as human beings don’t like change very much, so how can governments help their people move out of the older and more traditional ways of thinking and doing things, and into an era of modernity?

2 thoughts on “Week 7 The Export Boom as Modernity

  1. Frances

    Hi thanks for you post. I also grew up only having learned about the history/development of Western countries so I share your sentiments on that! I had a different take on Creelman’s essay though. I think his words were genuine yet I don’t know if Diaz was thought of in such a nice light by a large number of the Mexican people at the time. The essay was written two years prior to a big revolution within Mexico and some historians believe the essay to have been a starting point for the political upheaval that ensued. I think I read that Diaz was actually more of a dictator.
    In answer to your question, the Latin American governments seemed to do it quite forcefully at times through an “iron fist” approach. They controlled politics, economy and propaganda to give off an aesthetic modernity when they believed that the lower-class groups were not capable of modernizing.

  2. Ruze Guvenc

    I really like the question you posed at the end, because I think this sort of discussion is closely related to the overall themes of the course. I think “modernity” should not be forced onto the people by the government and those in power, if the changes are geniunely going to benefit the masses then the majority of people should support it with time. By presenting the changes to the people and explaining the benefits to their standard, with a little time you should be able to convince the majority to support the movement. Diaz used an authoritarian “iron fist” approach and essentially forced the people into changes related to his modernity , which to me is not the right approach. Maybe his attempt to use the Western definition of modernity and apply it to Mexico was not well received for the a reason. It did not benefit the lower class or the Indigenous peoples, thus it might not have been the right time to attempt complete “modernity” economically.


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