Deconstructing 19th Century Mexico Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Contextualizing Old World Mexico

There are numerous ways that one can explicate the fanatical attachment of the tomochitecos to Teresa Urrea. Nonetheless, characterizing that attachment as fanatical is not quite accurate. When one considers all of the logical reasons why these people revered this woman, that affinity they expressed towards and about her becomes much less fanatical, and simply another manifestation of popular religiosity in Mexico. Granted, there is a fine line between these sentiments. Still, the tomochitecos' regard for Urrea encompassed the latter, and not the former, because she had a strong political influence that was rooted in religion and healing.

Ultimately, it was the practicality of the attachment the tomochitecos had to Urrea that underscores the fact that it was not fanatical in nature. Were this people's valuation of Urrea merely based on her religious influence, the devotion that they had for her might righteously have been fanatic. However, Urrea was a strong political figure for most of her life. She spoke about justice and injustice in very real terms that were applicable to these native peoples, and which were critical of the organized Mexican government that dispossessed them of land 1. In fact, this woman spoke about justice and injustice in terms that applied to all power struggles between the enfranchised (like Reyes Dominguez) 2 and the disenfranchised to which the tomochitecos could relate. Therefore, the fervor with which these "dissenters" 3 regarded this woman were based on revolutionary ideals as much as they were religious ones. As such, that devotion was too practical to simply warrant fanaticism. Instead, there was a direct correlation between their invocation of this woman's image and name and the goals that both they and she attempted to achieve against the government.

Another reason that this group of people had such a strong, positive regard for this woman pertains to her ability to exert her influence on the physical body. Specifically, Urrea was credited with healing a number of people, including those that were native tomochitecos and those that were other groups of people. Again, it should be noted that by healing such people, Urrea was exerting her will over something physical -- the parts of the body that those who became her followers could see and touch. There is a degree of pragmatic value in this sort of control over the physical world that certainly led to people to revere Urrea…

Sources Used in Document:

Bibliography

Joseph, Gilbert M., and Henderson, Timothy J. The Mexico Reader. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2002.

Vanderwood, Paul. The Power of God Against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

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