Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Law and Violence in the Making of Modern Mexico (HIST10500)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the historical force of two seemingly opposed principles in Mexican state formation: the principle of violence on the one hand, and the principle of legality on the other. While Mexico is often associated with various forms of violence (whether the violence of conquest, of revolution, or of criminal enterprise), Mexico is also a country with a long and distinguished legal tradition. In the course we will debate the tensions and complicities between the principles of violence and legality in the making of modern states while also covering the major events in Mexican history between the era of the Spanish conquest and that of the drug wars of the twenty-first century.
Course description Novelist Carlos Fuentes once wrote that Latin America was divided between a "legal country" and a "real country". He meant that the institutions designed for the preservation of the law did little to structure the lives of most Latin Americans. It is perhaps no accident that Fuentes came from Mexico, a country whose long-standing identification with liberalism has always made the gap between the promise of legal rights and the reality of corruption and social violence appear particularly large. In the past decade or so this gap has grown ever more visible, as both criminal groups and the forces sent to combat them have made headlines with the brutality and impunity of their transgressions.

In this class we will interrogate both the tensions and the complicities between violence and legality in Mexican history. Students will gain familiarity with the historical events and processes that created the Mexican nation and acquire critical conceptual tools for thinking about violence, the law, and state formation in different historical contexts. Students will also strengthen their writing and research skills, as course assignments will gradually lead up to the production of an end-of-term research paper.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material
  2. command the body of knowledge considered in the course
  3. read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship
  4. develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence
  5. plan and execute a substantial piece of historical research
Reading List
Helga Baitenmann, "Zapata's Justice: Land and Water Conflict Resolution in Revolutionary Mexico (1914-16)," Journal of Latin American Studies 51/4 (2019)

Alejandro Cañeque, The Kings Living Image: The Culture and Politics of Viceregal Power in Colonial Mexico, (Routledge, 2004)

Inga Clendinnen, "'Fierce and Unnatural Cruelty': Cortés and the Conquest of Mexico," Representations 33 (1991)

Romana Falcón, "Force and the Search for Consent: The Role of the Jefaturas Políticas of Coahuila in National State Formation," in Gilbert Joseph and Daniel Nugent (eds.), Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico, (Duke University Press, 1994)

Brian Loveman, "Constitutional Government and Regimes of Exception," in Loveman, The Constitution of Tyranny: Regimes of Exception in Spanish America, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993)

Casey Lurtz, "Codifying Credit: Everyday Contracting and the Spread of the Civil Code in Nineteenth-Century Mexico," Law and History Review 39/1 (2021)

Florencia Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru, (University of California Press, 1995)

Tanalís Padilla, Rural Resistance in the Land of Zapata: The Jaramillista Movement and the Myth of the Pax Prísita, 1940-1962, (Duke University Press, 2008)

Jaime Pensado, "'No More Fun and Games': From Porristas to Porros," in Pensado, Rebel Mexico: Student Unrest and Authoritarian Political Culture during the Long Sixties, (Stanford University Press, 2013)

Pablo Piccato, "Crime, Truth, and Justice in Modern Mexico: Notes for a National History," The Americas 73/4 (2016)

Eric Van Young, "Agrarian Rebellion and Defense of Community: Meaning and Collective Violence in Late-Colonial and Independence-Era Mexico," Journal of Social History 27/2 (1993)

Pamela Voekel, "Peeing on the Palace: Bodily Resistance to Bourbon Reforms in Mexico City," Journal of Historical Sociology 5/2 (1992)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Command of a substantial body of historical knowledge about Mexico

The ability to develop and sustain historical arguments, formulating appropriate questions and utilising evidence, both in class discussions and in written work

An ability to interrogate, read, analyse, and reflect critically and contextually upon contemporary laws

An ability to interrogate, read, analyse, and reflect critically and contextually upon historical writings

A knowledge of concepts and theories derived from the critical study of the law in the humanities and social sciences

An ability to design, research, and present a sustained and independently conceived piece of historical writing
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Timo Schaefer
Course secretary
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information