The representation of the indigenous peoples of Mexico in Diego Rivera's National Palace mural, (1929-1935)

Picot, Natasha Mathilde (2007) The representation of the indigenous peoples of Mexico in Diego Rivera's National Palace mural, (1929-1935). PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis is a multidisciplinary project, drawing on the discourses of Visual Cultural Studies, Latin American history and Critical Theory. Insights from each of these disciplines interact to investigate the representation of the indigenous peoples of Mexico in the mural triptych entitled History of the Mexican People painted by Diego Rivera in the National Palace, Mexico City between 1929 and 1935. The main focus is an exploration of the mural as a cultural text, which is formed through socio-political structures and homogenising nationalist visions. The artist is seen as partly a product of history who acts, both consciously and subconsciously, as a conduit for such historical structures. The investigation requires a multi-dimensional approach as it includes emotional, aesthetic, sociological, political, cultural, philosophical, biographical and material elements.

A close-reading of the National Palace mural as a cultural 'text' is undertaken in order to deconstruct certain culturally-specific political myths. The production of the fresco triptych is inextricably interlinked with the construction of the post-revolutionary Mexican nation and socio-cultural mythologies regarding the 'Indian' which are central to nationalist imagery and the post-revolutionary, anthropological theories of indigenismo.

Certain distinctive racial strands of nationalist mythology which are represented in the mural are analysed within the framework of Anthony D. Smith's (1999) theory of historical ethno-mythology. I argue, following Smith, that what gives nationalism its power are the myths, memories, traditions and symbols of ethnic heritages and the ways in which a popular living past has been, can be and is rediscovered and reinterpreted by modern, nationalist intelligentsias. Smith's universal theory has not previously been applied in depth to a complex concrete situation. This thesis relates the insights of the theory of nationalist ethno-mythology to the tangible cultural text of History of the Mexican People.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Millington, Mark
Cullen, Fintan
Hatt, Michael
Keywords: Indigenous Politics, Spirituality, Syncretism, History of Mexico, Visual Culture, Mexican Muralists
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of History
Item ID: 10578
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 14:05

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