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“Fighting is Very Hard Work”: Labor and Soldiering in the US-Mexican War, 1846-1848

Monday, February 4, 2013
12:00 AM
1014 Tisch Hall

Historians tend to associate the nineteenth century with the rise of nationalism and national states. Nation-states often used wars to bolster national identity both through the military service of citizen-soldiers and propaganda aimed at civilians. We’ll see in this talk, though, that many of the men who fought in the Mexican-American war entered the militaries of the two countries not due to patriotism but because they were an available labor force. Looking at soldiers as workers helps us understand the experiences of soldiers and civilians in both countries, including one group of soldiers who fought first for the United States and then for Mexico.

About Professor Guardino: "My work focuses on Mexico’s impoverished majorities in the second half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century. In particular I am interested in social movements, state formation, nationalism and popular political culture in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexico. My first book, Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico’s National State: Guerrero, 1800-1857, (Stanford University Press, 1996) argues that Mexican peasants were well aware of the momentous political changes that came with independence and some groups participated actively in the movements and alliances through which Mexico’s national state was formed. My second book, “The Time of Liberty”: Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750-1850 (Duke University Press, 2005) focuses on how popular political culture changed in both rural and urban areas under the impact of the Enlightenment, the Bourbon Reforms, independence, and liberal republicanism. I am currently working on a social and cultural history of the 1846-48 war between Mexico and the United States. Focusing on gender, religion, and race, the project examines how soldiers and civilians in both countries understood and experienced the conflict. I teach graduate courses on colonial history, nationalism, and social movements as well as a variety of undergraduate courses on Mexico, modern and colonial Latin America, and race."