Northwestern Events Calendar


Lynching, Extralegal Justice, and Authoritarianism in Unrevolutionary Mexico: A Book Talk with Paul Gillingham and Gema Kloppe-Santamaría

When: Tuesday, May 18, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Multicultural & Diversity, Global & Civic Engagement


Please join Northwestern's Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program and Noria Research for this conversation with historians Paul Gillingham and Gema Kloppe-Santamaría about their respective new books.

About the speakers

Paul Gillingham is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern and former director of the university's Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program. He is a historian of modern Mexico and Latin America, specializing in politics, culture and violence. His first book, Cuauhtémoc’s Bones: Forging National Identity in Modern Mexico (University of New Mexico Press, 2011), examines nationalism through the story of the forged tomb of the last Aztec emperor. It was awarded the Conference on Latin American History’s Mexican history prize. He is co-editor of Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico, 1938-1968 (Duke University Press, 2014), and Journalism, Satire, and Censorship in Mexico (University of New Mexico Press, 2019). He co-edits the University of California Press series Violence in Latin American History.

His book Unrevolutionary Mexico: The Birth of a Strange Dictatorship will be published by Yale University Press in May 2021. The book addresses how the Mexican Revolution (1910-1940) gave way to a capitalist dictatorship of exceptional resilience, where a single party ruled for 71 years. Yet while soldiers seized power across the rest of Latin America, in Mexico it was civilians who formed governments, moving punctiliously in and out of office through uninterrupted elections. Drawing on two decades of archival research, Gillingham uses the political and social evolution of the states of Guerrero and Veracruz as starting points to explore this unique authoritarian state that thrived not despite but because of its contradictions. Mexico during the pivotal decades of the mid-20th century is revealed as a place where soldiers prevented military rule, a single party lost its own rigged elections, corruption fostered legitimacy, violence was despised but decisive, and a potentially suffocating propaganda coexisted with a critical press and a disbelieving public.

Gema Kloppe-Santamaría is Assistant Professor of Latin American history at Loyola University, Chicago. Her research analyzes the history of Latin American processes of state building across the 20th and 21st centuries, with a particular attention to questions of violence, crime, justice, and the rule of law.

Her book In the Vortex of Violence: Lynching, Extralegal Justice, and the State in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (Universisty of California Press, 2020) examines the uncharted history of lynching during the formative decades of the post-revolutionary period (1930-1960). Based on an array of previously untapped historical sources, the book contributes to globalize the history of lynching beyond the United States, while offering key insights into the cultural, historical, and political reasons behind the continuing presence of lynching in Latin America today.

Kloppe-Santamaría is main editor of the books Human Security and Chronic Violence in Mexico (Porrúa -ITAM, 2019), Seguridad Humana violencia crónica en México: nuevas lecturas y propuestas desde abajo (Porrúa -ITAM, 2019), and Violence and Crime in Latin America: Representations and Politics (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017). She has also authored numerous articles and chapters, as well as reports for the United Nations Development Program, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center (NOREF).

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