Lund on Altamirano

Altamirano, like Alva, is a thinker of the Porfiriato, an apparently peaceful, and/but definitely state-producing period. The first section of this chapter discusses the ley fuga, which meant in practice that the pax porfiriana was actually a state of quiet warfare; this law converted the police into mere sicarios and made state sponsored death squads legal.
For Alva this symbolized everything that was wrong with Mexico. Altamirano, meanwhile,
was thinking through the contradictions of the period and gave special urgency to the project of consolidating the mestizo state. How did he work on this?

He makes sure we know he was born Indian and grew up speaking Nahuatl. He rose, of course, to be a great modernizer of Mexican literature. Now, he was not really Indian, and certainly not “de pura raza”; his father was the godson of a prominent Creole and was unlikely to have remained monolingual; he had a store in town and so on, and Altamirano the son attended primary school in a place where advanced courses were also given. So really he is an early protagonist of the mestizo state. His story is that of the “impure Indian rendered pure mestizo” (39). So he is de-Indianized (and bilingual education in the era was undertaken for the sake of Hispanization, not for the preservation of the older culture).

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