Histories of engineers and engineering are scarce, and much needed. We live, after all, in a fully engineered world. This volume offers a superb collection of case studies examining the rise and importance of engineering in Mexico’s modern history. Essential to understanding twentieth-century Mexico, Technocratic Visions also offers an important contribution to comparative national histories.
Technocratic Visions examines the context and societal consequences of technologies, technocratic governance, and development in Mexico, home of the first professional engineering school in the Americas. Contributors focus on the influential role of engineers, especially civil engineers, but also mining engineers, military engineers, architects, and other infrastructural and mechanical technicians. During the mid-nineteenth century, a period of immense upheaval and change domestically and globally, troubled governments attempted to expand and modernize Mexico’s engineering programs while resisting foreign invasion and adapting new Western technologies to existing precolonial and colonial foundations. The Mexican Revolution in 1910 greatly expanded technocratic practices as state agents attempted to control popular unrest and unify disparate communities via science, education, and infrastructure. Within this backdrop of political unrest, Technocratic Visions describes engineering sites as places both praised and protested, where personal, local, national, and global interests combined into new forms of societal creation; and as places that became centers of contests over representation, health, identity, and power. With an eye on contextualizing current problems stemming from Mexico’s historical development, this volume reveals how these transformations were uniquely Mexican and thoroughly global.
This book addresses one of the greatest perceived contradictions of Mexican and Latin American science and technology studies and history: How (and why) did the influence of unelected technocrats increase as the country ostensibly moved toward greater democratization? The individual chapters analyze the social costs and benefits of the technocratic approach to Mexican government. The rich analyses and the deep theoretical and empirical contextualization ensure that it will be a key reference point in Mexican science and technology studies for years to come.
For scholars of science, technology, and engineering, this collection edited by Castro and Garza is required reading.
J. Justin Castro is professor and the chair of the Department of History at Arkansas State University. He is the author of Radio in Revolution: Wireless Technology and State Power in Mexico, 1897–1938 and Apostle of Progress: Modesto C. Rolland, Global Progressivism, and the Engineering of Revolutionary Mexico.
James A. Garza isassociate professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. His research focuses on nineteenth-century Mexico and global/comparative environmental history. He is the author of The Imagined Underworld: Sex, Crime and Vice in Porfirian Mexico City.