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Alcohol and Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Mexico

Deborah Toner

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 06/2015
Pages: 408
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9780803274372


Drawing on an analysis of issues surrounding the consumption of alcohol in a diverse range of source materials, including novels, newspapers, medical texts, and archival records, this lively and engaging interdisciplinary study explores sociocultural nation-building processes in Mexico between 1810 and 1910. Examining the historical importance of drinking as both an important feature of Mexican social life and a persistent source of concern for Mexican intellectuals and politicians, Deborah Toner’s Alcohol and Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Mexico offers surprising insights into how the nation was constructed and deconstructed in the nineteenth century. Although Mexican intellectuals did indeed condemn the physically and morally debilitating aspects of excessive alcohol consumption and worried that particularly Mexican drinks and drinking places were preventing Mexico’s progress as a nation, they also identified more culturally valuable aspects of Mexican drinking cultures that ought to be celebrated as part of an “authentic” Mexican national culture. The intertwined literary and historical analysis in this study illustrates how wide-ranging the connections were between ideas about drinking, poverty, crime, insanity, citizenship, patriotism, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity in the nineteenth century, and the book makes timely and important contributions to the fields of Latin American literature, alcohol studies, and the social and cultural history of nation-building.


Deborah Toner is a lecturer in modern history at the University of Leicester and a leading convener of the Warwick Drinking Studies Network.


“Deborah Toner deftly combines the methodologies of history and literary criticism to show how drink was crucial to ideas about the nation in nineteenth-century Mexico. Informed by the findings of the anthropology of alcohol, this book offers important contributions to Mexican social, intellectual, and literary history.”—Jeffrey Pilcher, author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

“Toner’s blending of literary analysis with medical and criminal reports presents a valuable approach to studies of nationalism, Mexico, and Latin America.”—James A. Garza, author of The Imagined Underworld: Sex, Crime and Vice in Porfirian Mexico