Education and the institutionalisation of contending ideas of the nation in Reforma Mexico
This work investigates the role that institutions play in the dissemination of the idea of the nation. Its main theoretical claim is that elite-formulated "official" ideas of the nation are always transformed by the mediating action of the institutions through which they are disseminated. Thus, it is argued here, an examination of the operation, reach and limits of these institutions can shed light on the discontinuities in the reproduction of the official versions of the nation, as well as on the extent to which alternative formulations are diffused through institutions that escape the control of the state. This premise provides the framework of the study of the institutionalisation of contending conservative and liberal ideas of the nation in Reforma Mexico (1855-1876). As in other states, in Mexico the system of public education was the principal channel for the diffusion of such ideas. Through an analysis of primary and secondary sources, the dissertation examines the reach and limits of the Mexican public education system in spreading the idea of the Mexican nation that the liberal state elite upheld. The thesis concludes that despite the unprecedented efforts that the Mexican liberal state made to disseminate the official idea of the nation through education, the results of its educational policy were very moderate. On the one hand, structural conditions accounted for an uneven diffusion of this idea within the system of public education itself On the other hand, the action of private schools, which were always allowed to operate by the liberal state, contributed to the spread of ideas of the nation that differed in varying degrees from the formulation that the Reforma wanted to promote.