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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor

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An Ambivalent Nation: Australian Nationalism and Historical Memory

This essay addresses the central role of the Gallipoli campaign (WWI) in the Australian national narrative. It focuses particularly on the ambivalent quality of this narrative, referencing as it does the paradoxical historical relationship between Britain and Australia, and the latter's fundamental role in Australian national identity. It suggests that the Australian national narrative remains open-ended, and that future understandings of the significance of Gallipoli may differ from those of the present.

Lords of Agave: Eladio Sauza, Agraristas, and the Struggle for Land in Tequila Mexico, 1932-1937.

This paper follows one local agrarian communities and tequila industrialist Eladio Sauza through the bureaucratic avenues of Mexico’s post-revolutionary land reform. Over 14,115 hectares of land were redistributed as ejidos—landholding communities endowed by the agrarian reform—in the municipality of Tequila between 1927-41. The uphill battle agrarian reformists waged against Sauza to assert their right to land is not simply a story of victimization or economic setbacks. It is also an inquiry into the lives of individuals who through the state sponsored ejido system became empowered and integrated into the nation’s revolutionary project.

Before the land reform tequila companies produced the agaves needed for the process of distillation; shortly thereafter they became dependent on ejidatarios for their supply of agave. Using the correspondences, memos, and letters of Sauza, as well of those of the agraristas of El Medineño, I show that their stories are not only indicative of the change that the industry faced; their stories are also part of a larger national narrative on the development and implementation of agrarian and labor legislation in the Mexican countryside. What was ordained into law by decrees, more than often unfolded on the ground in different ways than the law intended. Although the legislative frameworks for land reform were provided from above, they remained mute as to how to implement them and were highly susceptible to the pressure from landowners and local communities.

Very little is known about the community leaders and those early participants in local agrarian reform movements that did not achieve national notoriety. We may never know the full extent of the backgrounds of the agraristas, but what the sources and this paper do convey are that among them were natural-born leaders adept in the politics of reform who sought justice in the name of the Revolution. Overwhelmed by revolution in land ownership that threatened to cripple his tequila business, Eladio Sauza fought for his definition of justice while trying to dictate the terms of his surrender to the revolutionary process. This story explores and historicizes the origins of conflict and reform in post-revolutionary Mexico—assessing its impact on the ground, to its people, and an industry.

A Satellite Community in a Spanish City: The Barrio of Santiago Cholultecapan in Colonial Puebla de los Ángeles

In the year 1732, the citizens of Puebla de los Ángeles, the second city of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, were in a state of anxiousness. The cathedral's southern belfry had finally been completed and all that remained was to place the bell in the tower. But the doña María was too heavy. Unable to complete this colossal task, the Poblanos retired to their homes in dismay. The following morning, the sound of the doña María announcing early mass convinced everyone that Puebla’s namesakes – the angels – had swept down from their heavenly abode and lifted the bell into place as the city slept.

The pious story of the hanging of the doña María serves not only to underscore Puebla's eighteenth-century status as the second most important city in New Spain, but also effaces the efforts of countless indigenous tributaries who participated in the city's construction. In reality, it was not the angels who lifted the bell into the cathedral belfry, but rather the industrious and very human indios from neighboring Cholula. Obliged to provide indios de servicio (day laborers) to Puebla, the Cholulteca had manufactured a ramp, raising the enormous doña María into place using a complicated system of ropes and pulleys. The native Cholulteca had, in fact, been intimately involved in the new Spanish city since Puebla's founders broke ground on land taken from Cholula's jurisdiction. Within twenty years, the Cholulteca had settled into their own barrio outside the city's traza (downtown), a neighborhood known alternately as el barrio de Santiago Cholultecapan and el barrio de Santiago de los Cholultecas.

This paper examines the barrio's sixteenth century development, the naming of its indigenous leaders by Puebla's cabildo (municipal government), and its relationship to both the Spanish city and its home community in nearby Cholula. Developing along the banks of the Rio San Francisco where Cholulteca laborers had strategically settled on the road leading to Cholula, the location was officially recognized in 1550. The satellite community quickly became known for the richness of its maguey fields and particularly for the quality of its pulque. The barrio also established superior workshops of sculptors, especially of Santiago images, and by 1790 had earned a reputation for its quality butchers and masons.

Why of the numerous indigenous barrios in Puebla was Santiago Cholultecapan so successful? I suggest that Cholula's proximity to Puebla and its long history as a successful agricultural center and marketplace contributed to the barrio's flourishing and booming industries. Unlike other indios in Puebla, the Santiago indios enjoyed the protection of their indigenous leaders from nearby Cholula, for if the Poblanos mistreated them they could take recourse in their home cabildo. Had Cholula and Puebla not been jointly governed from 1531 to 1538, nor shared boundaries, this neighborhood would not have developed into such an important site. Today it exists still, seven blocks southeast of the Puebla cathedral, where in 1732, the industrious Cholulteca raised the enormous doña Mará to her current resting place in the southern belfry.

"In Our Image:" Visual Perspectives and American Protestant Missions in Interwar China

My paper explores questions about the role of photography and visual culture in history, as seen in conjunction with the cultural history of American missionaries in China and Sino-American relations. I read images in concert with text-based sources, using them not only as illustrations, but as historical artifacts and visual documents with their own voices. As windows onto individual and collective meaning-making, photographs and films reflect how missionaries saw themselves, their communities, and the local peoples they worked with. This paper covers a period of approximately two decades, beginning in 1927 and ending with the Communist takeover in 1949. This era saw vigorous foreign missionary activity in China, with American churches participating in significant evangelistic and humanitarian interventions. Many of the missionaries produced photographic and filmic images as personal creative outlets as well as documentary records for transmission to foreign mission boards and supporting church congregations in the United States.

The visual production of these individuals and institutions allows me to situate experiences “on the ground” within both the history of photography and the larger history of Protestant missions in early-to-mid 20th century China. This paper provides a starting point for greater understanding of the complexities in cross-cultural interactions, 20th century American transnational perceptions, and the role of religion in the development of modern China. Moreover, it demonstrates the usefulness of historical-visual interdisciplinarity, combining more conventional text-based historiographic methods with visual analysis to produce an effective, multifaceted approach to historical study.