Insiders and outsiders in Mexican archaeology (1890-1930)
This dissertation narrates the history of archaeological practices in Mexico during the period from the 1890s to the late 1920s. Though this work examines Mexican archaeology, its focus is in the interactions between North American and Mexican archaeologies. More than describing those interactions, I look and theorize the nature of these relationships. I divided this dissertation in three sections; each of them takes a different lens to illustrate interactions. The first section looks at two explorations during the last decade of the nineteenth century: Carl Lumholtz’s expeditions to Northern Mexico and the Loubat expedition in Southern Mexico. Those two expeditions aimed to collect anthropological and archaeological items, but established different relations with Mexico. Section two examines the International School of American Archaeology and Ethnology, founded in Mexico City in 1910. I examine the school as an institution with a multinational character and where issues of nationalism, internationalism and science were visible. The last section in this dissertation examines more specifically the work of Zelia Nuttall, a North American woman archaeologist who settled in Mexico in the early years of the twentieth century. The experience of this woman enables me to examine issues of gender and professionalization in archaeology at the turn of the twentieth century. The three levels of interactions I examine in this dissertation illustrate how the idea of insiders and outsiders was prevalent in the functioning of archaeology in Mexico. In addition, it also shows that nation and gender permeated the archaeologies of Mexico and the United States. In the case of expeditions, the United States viewed Mexico as a femenized space that needed the entrance of science to study its ruins. But at the same time, the Mexican state used those outside expeditions for its internal purposes, to reinforce a sense of national patrimony. The International School on the other hand is an example of how nationalism was a factor that hindered the notion of an international, a-political archaeology. Finally, Zelia Nuttall’s experience illustrates how women were considered outsiders to archaeology’s practice despite the fact that they participated in central aspects of this profession.