June 27, 2011 Historian to Discuss Decolonization and Modernization of Mexico

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-7678

New Spain became Mexico virtually overnight, in 1821, although a decade of bloody civil strife preceded its final independence. Historian Eric Van Young, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will use the case of Mexico to examine the layered and contradictory nature of decolonization.

Van Young will present “In Mexico There Are No Mexicans: Decolonization and Modernization, 1750-1850” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The lecture is part of a decolonization seminar hosted by the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center and sponsored by the National History Center, with funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The lecture is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.

According to Van Young, decolonization is a transition that typically takes place in several planes or spheres interconnected in complex ways, yet each with its own rhythm. The fastest and most easily achieved may be in the political sphere, with the severing of formal ties between colony and metropolis and the formation of a new state.

Economic decolonization, says Van Young, may take a good deal longer, or never occur at all. Slower still is social decolonization, with lingering ideas about ethnicity and social power embedded even in new institutions.

Van Young is a distinguished professor of history at the University of California, San Diego, where he has taught since 1983. He is the author of “The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology and the Struggle for Mexican Independence, 1810-1821” (2001), and has written, edited or co-edited a half-dozen other books. A specialist on the history of colonial and 19th-century Mexico, he is currently writing a biography of the 19th-century Mexican statesman, entrepreneur and historian Lucas Alamán.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.


PR 11-125
ISSN 0731-3527