Event—Scholarly Seminars

Emiliano Aguilar, Northwestern University, and Lorena Chambers, Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University


"A History that Fell through the Cracks: Marcoantonio Diaz-Infante and the Rise of Mexican American Political Consciousness, 1954-1962," Emiliano Aguilar

Adopting dozens of new identities with a variety of professions, Marcoantonio Diaz-Infante wedged himself into numerous ethnic Mexican communities. Often with an ulterior motive in mind, Diaz-Infante swindled and in some cases assisted these communities with issues specific to their status as ethnic Mexicans. The Diaz-Infante Affair highlights how within the frame of respectability politics and desire for social mobility, the eccentric Diaz-Infante was able to adapt to the nascent arena of Mexican politics. Ultimately, I argue that the developing character of Mexican American political consciousness provided him an opportunity to move among these groups and it was not until a broader, national consciousness developed that Diaz-Infante found himself outed.

"From Statecraft to Stagecraft: The Business of Mexicanidad at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition," Lorena Chambers

From Statecraft to Stagecraft tells the layered story of how representatives of the United States and Mexico peddled performances of mexicanidad, or forms of Mexican identity, to sell products, entertain audiences, and advance commercial and state interests. One country pursued opening up Latin American commercial markets on behalf of U.S. business interests while the other sought a steady stream of investments to buttress its international standing. This paper examines how Mexican and U.S. statecraft at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition led to competing versions of mexicanidad that commodified racial differences for mass consumption while creating visual tropes that excluded ethnic Mexicans from the American polity.

Respondent: Jason Ruiz, University of Notre Dame