Pistoleros and Popular Movements


Pistoleros and Popular Movements

The Politics of State Formation in Postrevolutionary Oaxaca

Benjamin T. Smith

The Mexican Experience Series

596 pages
8 images, 3 maps


July 2009


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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July 2009


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The postrevolutionary reconstruction of the Mexican government did not easily or immediately reach all corners of the country. At every level, political intermediaries negotiated, resisted, appropriated, or ignored the dictates of the central government. National policy reverberated through Mexico’s local and political networks in countless different ways and resulted in a myriad of regional arrangements. It is this process of diffusion, politicking, and conflict that Benjamin T. Smith examines in Pistoleros and Popular Movements.

Oaxaca’s urban social movements and the tension between federal, state, and local governments illuminate the multivalent contradictions, fragmentations, and crises of the state-building effort at the regional level. A better understanding of these local transformations yields a more realistic overall view of the national project of state building. Smith places Oaxaca within this larger framework of postrevolutionary Mexico by comparing the region to other states and linking local politics to state and national developments. Drawing on an impressive range of regional case studies, this volume is a comprehensive and engaging study of postrevolutionary Oaxaca’s role in the formation of modern Mexico.

Author Bio

Benjamin T. Smith is an assistant professor of history at Michigan State University. His articles have appeared in Journal of Latin American Studies, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, and multiple edited volumes.


"Pistoleros and Popular Movements is an astonishingly thorough work to which all students of twentieth century Oaxaca will have to refer, and it makes arguments about the post-1940 period that all historians of modern Mexico must consider."—Kenneth F. Maffitt, A Contracorriente

"[Smith] makes use of extensive state and federal archives (public and private) along with Oaxacan newspapers and a broad range of secondary works."—S. F. Voss, CHOICE

"Amply researched and meticulously documented, this book enriches our understanding of the enduring nature of the PRI."—Tanalís Padilla, American Historical Review

"Local and state politics in the 1940s and early 1950s Mexico is largely uncharted terrain. Smith's careful archival work tells us a great deal that we did not know before about the relationships between popular movements and organizations, regional and state elites, and national politics and policies during this period."—Jennie Purnell, Americas

"Smith's book enters a new field, a history of state/society relations in post-1940 Mexico, with methodological and interpretive panache. This big book, dealing with big processes, should exert a big influence on scholars of both its thematic and its geographical concerns."—Paul Gillingham, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Ben Smith has written a wonderful and important book that will remain obligatory reading for many years to come for those interested in state formation, and for scholars interested in the fascinating postrevolutionary history of Oaxaca. The combination of methodological rigor, theoretical proficiency, and good writing makes this a book that deserves many readers from history students to political science professors."—Wil Pansters, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


List of Abbreviations


1. Revolution and Stasis in Oaxaca, 1876–1928

2. The Caudillo and the State, 1928–34

3. The Rise of Cardenismo and the Decline of Chicolopismo, 1932–36

4. The Politics of Cardenismo, 1936–40

5. Cárdenas's Caciques, 1936–40

6. Politics and Socioeconomic Reform, 1936–40

7. The Problems with Cardenista Politics and the Rise of the Urban Social Movement, 1940–44

8. The Rise and Fall of Edmundo Sánchez Cano, 1944–47

9. The Vallistocracia Governor, 1947–50

10. The Short Reign of Manuel Mayoral Heredia, 1950–52





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