Americans in the Treasure House: Travel to Porfirian Mexico and the Cultural Politics of Empire

Paperback | November 1, 2014

byJason Ruiz

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When railroads connected the United States and Mexico in 1884 and overland travel between the two countries became easier and cheaper, Americans developed an intense curiosity about Mexico, its people, and its opportunities for business and pleasure. Indeed, so many Americans visited Mexico during the Porfiriato (the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911) that observers on both sides of the border called the hordes of tourists and business speculators a “foreign invasion,” an apt phrase for a historical moment when the United States was expanding its territory and influence.

Americans in the Treasure House examines travel to Mexico during the Porfiriato, concentrating on the role of travelers in shaping ideas of Mexico as a logical place for Americans to extend their economic and cultural influence in the hemisphere. Analyzing a wealth of evidence ranging from travelogues and literary representations to picture postcards and snapshots, Jason Ruiz demonstrates that American travelers constructed Mexico as a nation at the cusp of modernity, but one requiring foreign intervention to reach its full potential. He shows how they rationalized this supposed need for intervention in a variety of ways, including by representing Mexico as a nation that deviated too dramatically from American ideals of progress, whiteness, and sexual self-control to become a modern “sister republic” on its own. Most importantly, Ruiz relates the rapid rise in travel and travel discourse to complex questions about national identity, state power, and economic relations across the U.S.–Mexico border.

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When railroads connected the United States and Mexico in 1884 and overland travel between the two countries became easier and cheaper, Americans developed an intense curiosity about Mexico, its people, and its opportunities for business and pleasure. Indeed, so many Americans visited Mexico during the Porfiriato (the long dictatorship ...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:293 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.65 inPublished:November 1, 2014Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292753837

ISBN - 13:9780292753839

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsNotes on UsageIntroduction: Keep Close to a Kicking HorseOne. Desire among the Ruins: Constructing Mexico in American Travel DiscourseTwo. “The Greatest and Wisest Despot of Modern Times”: Porfirio Díaz, American Travelers, and the Politics of Logical PaternalismThree. American Travel Writing and the Problem of Indian DifferenceFour. “The Most Promising Element in Mexican Society”: Idealized Mestizaje and the Eradication of Indian DifferenceFive. Reversals of Fortune: Revolutionary Veracruz and Porfirian NostalgiaConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

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Drawing on the vast body of documentation and representation left by American travelers to Mexico, Ruiz argues that these travelers helped shape a form of U.S. cultural and economic imperialism distinct to Mexico.