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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This work focuses on how Mexico’s early twentieth-century educational system promoted the teaching and performance of the Jarabe Tapatío, which is considered to be the national dance of Mexico, in order to culturally unify the country. It argues that in 1920s Mexico, the Jarabe Tapatío worked alongside educational policies designed to assimilate the indigenous and peasant communities, reinforce class status, and encourage nationalistic sentiment. Drawing on archival research and interviews conducted by the author, this work traces the history of the Jarabe Tapatío to demonstrate how it has been re-invented to imagine the Mexican nation. It then delves into early twentieth-century perspectives of nation, competing ideas of nation, avenues of negotiation, and the cultural nationalist movement as propelled by Secretary of Education, José Vasconcelos, to better understand the underlying governmental philosophies behind the promotion of the Jarabe Tapatío within the public school system. This work analyzes three 1920s performances of this dance showing how renditions of the Jarabe Tapatío within public- school systems crossed social class and racial lines. Furthermore, it analyzes the way in which dance as well as the teaching and performance of the Jarabe Tapatío within the Cultural Missions in 1920s Mexico functioned to image the nation as a homogenous population of mestizos. Finally, throughout her writings, the author introduces the life story of Alura Flores de Angeles, the “Godmother of Mexican Dance,” to demonstrate how folkloric dance was codified, collected, and disseminated within the 1920s Mexican educational system.

Keywords: class, dance, gender, Mexico, nation, race

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