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Oscar Lewis, Urban Poverty, and The Children of Sánchez

Summary and Keywords

Revolutionary leaders favored depictions of Mexico City in the mid-20th century that highlighted the progress and orderly growth of a modern industrial city. The ruling party made Mexico City the focus of post–World War II development policies and the showcase for the success of those policies in achieving the new goals of the Mexican Revolution during a period of sustained economic growth known as the “Mexican miracle.” When, in the early 1960s, the American anthropologist Oscar Lewis published The Children of Sánchez, his popular study of urban poverty, and turned the public’s attention away from the sites that underscored the official narrative of orderly industrial growth, it incited a heated public debate in Mexico City. The book contained the oral histories of a family living in the low-income neighborhood of Tepito, in the center of the capital, and was a shocking account, told in their own words, of a family’s attempt to survive urban life. Supporters of the modernizing policies of federal officials and the capital’s mayor, Ernesto Uruchurtu, attacked the book in the press and even filed formal complaints with Mexico’s attorney general demanding that the book and its author be banned from the country and the publisher reprimanded. They claimed that the book was too vulgar for public consumption and called it a foreigner’s attack on the reputation of the country and the city. Critics of the Institutional Revolutionary Party used the publicity generated by the attacks to open up a dialog about the marginalized people left behind by urban development and engaged in the debates as a safe way to express its own concerns about Uruchurtu’s inhumane development policies and the government’s insistence on hiding reality to present the city to the international community as a modern showcase.

Keywords: modernization, urbanization, urban renewal, poverty, housing, Mexican Revolution, Institutional Revolutionary Party, Mexican Miracle, Oscar Lewis

Mexico’s Economy after World War II

After World War II, Mexico’s national leaders shifted the government’s support away from what many observers believed was a central objective of the 1910 Revolution, rural land redistribution, toward industrialization and urban development. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), renamed from the Party of the Mexican Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Mexicana, PRM) in 1946, consolidated its hold on national and local politics, winning every presidential election until 2000. The official PRI candidates, assured of an election victory, used revolutionary rhetoric to legitimize their shift toward urban development. Alongside other Latin American countries, Mexico’s leaders sought to grow local industries that could compete with imports via protectionist economic policies. President Miguel Alemán (1946–1952) and his successors embraced import-substitution industrialization (ISI) policies, which used import tariffs, tax incentives, and business subsidies to encourage the development of local industries in order to replace imported goods with domestically produced ones. For the next three decades, these policies created a new era of economic prosperity, supporting new local industries producing consumer goods. These new industries created manufacturing jobs that attracted laborers to urban centers. The national economy, measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a staggering rate of 6 percent annually. Supporters of ISI policies praised the new economy as the “Mexican Miracle,” ignoring the warning signs of unsustainable development driven by growing foreign loan debt.1

The numbers that reflected this national economic growth also hid worsening inequalities in the standard of living between the elites and middle-class society and those who occupied poor neighborhoods. Although they retained the rhetoric of the social betterment of the masses, a new generation of leaders did not aim to improve lives through land redistribution or rural programs but, rather, through the modernization of urban life and the overall progress of the nation’s economy. These policy shifts represented the ascendancy of a new vision for the national regime; a vision primarily defined by urbanization, industrialism, foreign investment, and capital consolidation. Government policies after World War II rarely benefited the poor. Administrations favorable to business interests routinely suppressed the purchasing power of the working class by devaluing the peso, while tariffs drove up the prices of certain goods.2 Depressed wages undermined the basis of ISI development, which required a domestic consumer base to buy locally produced goods. Exports did not generate enough revenue to cover the cost of importing necessary capital goods, such as machinery for manufacturing, creating a trade imbalance. Urbanization rates in the capital also tested the limits of this economic development as the population of the Federal District increased from 1.7 million in 1940 to over 3 million by the end of the decade. By 1960, the population had reached a staggering 4.87 million. A new federal budgetary emphasis combined with these urbanization pressures to reduce the level of economic investment in the poorest segments of the population. James Wilkie’s statistical analysis of federal budgets showed that there had been a significant shift, beginning with President Alemán, toward expenditures for economic projects and away from social spending.3

Many critics of the PRI believed that the economic and political reorientation from land redistribution to capitalist urban development signaled the death of the revolution as a popular movement. One of the country’s leading intellectuals, Daniel Cosío Villegas, declared the revolution a failure in his article “The Crisis of Mexico” (1947). Cosío Villegas already felt that Alemán, only one year into his sexenio, had contravened the principles of the revolution by favoring foreign investment and rapid capitalist development over social equality and land reform. Yet economic growth, however unequal, seemed to justify the policy shifts and ushered in a new period that supporters called the “economic miracle.”4

The Mexico City Showcase

Mexico City quickly became the yardstick by which the success of the PRI’s economic development would be measured. President Alemán and his successors made it clear that the urban masses would be the primary benefactors of the new institutionalized revolution. In reality, government policies prioritized delivering a modern bourgeois lifestyle not only to an urban elite but also to an emergent middle class that included bureaucrats and white-collar workers who were benefiting from industrial growth. PRI officials worked to beautify the city; regulate public space; deliver modern consumer goods; and provide housing in new, more socially homogenous, neighborhoods. These efforts rarely benefited those below the middle class, and they coincided with massive housing shortages for the poor and worsening inequality in the capital, where a shrinking group of capitalists accumulated wealth as the living conditions of the poorest residents deteriorated.5 Government policies and the response to them by the poor exacerbated patterns of spatial segregation, creating two capitals: a modernizing middle-class showcase and a crowded, inequitable metropolis.

The physical transformation of the capital from the 1940s through the 1960s best underscored how leaders’ vision for the city had become one of an upper- and middle-class space. Public works and urban regeneration projects became integral parts of government officials’ plans to use the capital as a showcase for the country’s newfound status as a modern industrialized nation. Miguel Alemán set a precedent for massive spending on housing construction and large, urban public-works projects. His administration oversaw the construction of a large campus for the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National University, UNAM), elite suburbs, posh central neighborhoods, and modernist-inspired multifamily housing for the middle class, even as affordable housing for a growing number of poor urban migrants deteriorated or disappeared.

Housing construction best exemplified this neglect and underscored officials’ desire to create urban spaces for the upper class and the middle class. ISI policies had created new jobs in urban areas, which attracted migrants from the countryside. Internal growth and urbanization rates quickly outpaced housing construction, creating a serious housing shortage. Federal subsidies to real-estate developers and government-sponsored housing projects overwhelmingly benefited the middle class. In the name of modernization, revolutionary leaders often encouraged class segregation via economic policies and municipal regulations that pushed lower-income residents out of the city center to make room for affluent neighborhoods like Jardines de Pedregal.6

Highly publicized low-income housing projects gave the impression that the municipal government was addressing the housing crisis. These policies overlooked the problems of the city’s poor, who could only afford to rent, not purchase, new apartments. As migrants continued to flood into the capital, and as the press increasingly covered the worsening housing crisis, officials commissioned architects to design low-income housing complexes. The modernist architect Mario Pani received the most-publicized commissions, including the Miguel Alemán (1949), Benito Juárez (1950), and Nonoalco-Tlatelolco (1964) urban housing projects. These complexes of single- and multifamily apartments represented the ascendency of modernist architectural and urban-planning principles in the capital’s built environment. Pani’s projects reflected his belief in the functionalism of Le Corbusier, the French architect and urban planner who advocated an ordered rationalization of urban spaces.7

Government efforts to address the city’s housing crisis highlighted the gap between the objectives of the revolutionary officials and the realities of the urban poor. These complexes, built primarily for government workers, afforded the middle-class segments of the city a higher standard of living but offered no viable solution for residents who relied on rental accommodations to survive in the city center. Housing agencies resisted most efforts to build rental housing, and private companies did not see this tenure as profitable. Pani did attempt to design one project, the Nonoalco-Tlatelolco housing complex, to provide large-scale rental accommodations, but when government funding ran dry and the project fell into the hands of private investors, the rental units were converted to apartments for sale. In response, poor migrants either moved to the periphery of the city into settlements of makeshift housing where they had little access to municipal services or lived with friends or family in deteriorating rental tenements around the colonial historic center. These tenements, known as vecindades, became a vital component of the urban poor’s survival strategies and a physical reminder of the unfinished promises of the revolutionaries.8

These efforts intensified when Alemán’s successor, Adolfo Ruiz Cortines (1952–1958), appointed Ernesto P. Uruchurtu (1952–1966), a friend of the former president and an energetic reformer, as the head of the Department of the Federal District (DDF). Uruchurtu’s appointment ushered in an era of intense government scrutiny of aesthetics and planning in the capital. The new head of the DDF implemented extensive moralization and beautification campaigns, hoping to make the capital more hygienic, beautiful, and safe. Uruchurtu presided over an impressive transformation in the capital through programs that lined the streets with trees and flowers and built parks, fountains, and sports complexes. The increased number of sports complexes in the neighborhoods was intended to create strong civic-minded citizens through physical exercise. Uruchurtu’s campaigns engaged with the long-standing initiatives by many urban reformers who believed in the moralizing power of clean, orderly spaces to transform capitalinos into “modern citizens,” a euphemism for an idealized notion of middle-class residents who embraced bourgeois values. Uruchurtu believed that urban space had the power to shape people’s behaviors and made the renovation and rationalization of urban areas vital to creating a modern and moral citizenry.9

The International Olympic Committee’s choice of Mexico City to host the 1968 Olympic games served as a major international endorsement of the Uruchurtu’s policies. When the committee announced the selection, in 1963, Uruchurtu proclaimed that by the time the athletes arrived, the capital would be one of the cleanest cities in the world. With the eyes of the world on the capital, urban-renewal campaigns intensified, and architectural projects changed the urban landscape.10 Newspapers, such as El Nacional, used tourism rates, which steadily increased under Uruchurtu, as a measure of the success of these programs in changing the capital’s image. Understanding the importance of improving the city’s image in the press, Uruchurtu acknowledged the contribution newspapers had made by reporting stories that praised these programs. Some of the press in the capital played an important role in justifying the autocratic nature of some of the mayor’s policies, such as breaking worker strikes, clearing out street vendors, and bulldozing squatter settlements. Calling him the “Iron Regent,” some journalists validated his methods, imbuing his image with the masculine qualities needed to tackle the city’s problems.11

The foreign press and travel writers also began to praise the government’s advances in cleaning up the capital. By the 1960s, federal and municipal officials had carefully cultivated and guarded an international image of a country that was taking its place among the most industrialized nations of the world. Tourism boosters in Mexico City made a bipartite appeal to potential tourists by selling both a folkloric and a modern Mexico, where visitors could at once experience elements of pre-Columbian history and the comforts of modern urbanity.12 For the poor who lived in vecindades and worked in the informal market, Uruchurtu’s moralization projects did little to ease their poverty, and when his policies threatened their access to affordable housing close to areas of economic activity, often made their lives harder.

Oscar Lewis and The Children of Sánchez

After the 1910 Revolution, anthropologists acquired a heightened professional status as they studied indigenous populations in conjunction with state objectives. Leading scholars of these early decades (1910–1940), such as Manuel Gamio, put the discipline at the service of nationalist concerns about the so-called Indian problem: the idea that living indigenous populations were not assimilated into a national culture and therefore represented a barrier to national unification. Government efforts to modernize rural communities drew the interest of several anthropologists from the United States who were interested in culture change, particularly Oscar Lewis. Shortly after earning his doctor of philosophy degree in anthropology at Columbia University in New York City, Lewis arrived in Mexico, in 1943, a representative of the Inter-American Indian Institute, to work with Gamio to research indigenous personality development. During that time, he began a restudy of Tepoztlán, a village south of Mexico City that had been the subject of earlier work by Robert Redfield. Lewis’s challenge to Redfield’s notion that peasant communities existed on a folk-urban continuum based on various degrees of contact with modern society led him to study urban migrants to Mexico City. Lewis’s work in Tepoztlán challenged Redfield’s typology, finding that not only did folk communities already demonstrate some of the “urban” traits (social disorganization, impersonal relationships, secularization) but also that urbanization did not necessarily lead to a breakdown of the folk characteristics (strong personal relationships, homogeneity, social organization) Redfield had identified. It was here that Lewis developed the family-study methodology that he would use in his urban anthropological work in Mexico City.13

Lewis continued his research in Mexico City, studying a few migrant Tepoztecos. He and a team of assistants began a systematic study of community and family life in Mexico City tenements, distributing questionnaires, observing daily life, and conducting in-depth interviews. This research first appeared in Five Families: Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty (1959), in which each chapter recorded a typical day in the life of a family from distinct socioeconomic strata. Five Families introduced readers to the Sánchez (a pseudonym) family and Lewis’s “culture of poverty” thesis, which became the center of academic and public-policy debates in the United States. Lewis followed up Five Families with The Children of Sánchez (1961), a book solely dedicated to this family. When he tape-recorded his in-depth interviews with each member of the family, he omitted his interview questions and structured the book so that each chapter read like an autobiographical account of a particular family member’s life. Lewis believed this approach would limit his researcher bias and allow the family to tell its story in its own words. The result was a gritty and unfiltered assessment of life in the capital.

The prologue and epilogues contained Lewis’s interview with Jesús Sánchez, who was fifty years old at the time, and the body chapters recounted the lives and struggles of Jesús’s four children—Manuel (32), Roberto (29), Consuelo (27), and Marta (25)—in detail. The family was surprisingly forthcoming with intimate details about their lives and struggles living in the city. Many readers were shocked by stories (both personal and second hand) of alcoholism, incest, promiscuity, criminal activity, and economic oppression. Family members spoke candidly about their experiences with the seemingly insurmountable barriers to upward mobility. In Consuelo’s attempt to climb the social latter, she confronts incessant sexual overtures from bosses and resistance from her own family members. Roberto’s crimes intermittently landed him in jail and placed him on the wrong side of police brutality. Acknowledging his role in various crimes, Roberto also described commonplace police corruption and the torture he experienced at the hands of the police, who electrically shocked and beat him to force false confessions. Marta married at age fourteen, and after her husband left her and her four children, ended up dependent on her father.14

The struggles of the Sánchez children offered a sobering counterperspective on the supposed progress of the city, the nation’s democracy, and the government’s efforts to help the city’s poor. Members of the family openly criticized the PRI and its sham elections. Jesús characterized government officials as corrupt and in the pocket of drug traffickers. Roberto’s story reflected a sense of futility about politics that marred the official image of the PRI as the standard bearer of the popular revolution. Roberto claimed that he had always felt free until he worked in a factory where his bosses had forced him to register to vote and threatened to suspend him if he did not vote for the PRI candidates. He argued that these unconstitutional tactics in capital city politics did not surprise the poor because they did not affect them: whoever got elected would simply “rob the people.” His assessment of unionism was no less unflattering; he called his forced enrollment in the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) a “terrific mockery.” He attended no meetings, nor did he know any union officials, but they always collected his dues.15 Marta recalled buying her quart of milk at the government store, run by the Compañía Exportadora e Importadora Mexicana (CEIMSA), until they passed an arbitrary rule that customers had to also buy an egg for every quart of milk they purchased. She rarely had the money for both and complained to Lewis that the government made these policies “just to bother people!”16 Revelations like these resonated with some readers who had experienced similar frustrations, or with wealthier residents surprised to learn that the poor viewed the government as the source of many of their troubles.

The book’s setting in Mexico City contributed to its appeal to readers concerned about the rapid changes taking place in the city. The Sánchez family introduced readers to life in the capital’s vecindades in Tepito, a tough neighborhood known for its residents’ resilience and resistance to government interference, as well as for its reputation for crime. A vecindad was a type of one- or two-story rental tenement built around one or more interior patios. Most had either been built for low-income residents around the turn of the 20th century or converted from abandoned colonial homes near the city center. The rents of many vecindades, in neighborhoods like Tepito, had been frozen during World War II, making theses spaces an affordable housing option that was close to work in the city center, despite the resulting decline in landlords’ interest in making repairs. As the housing crisis worsened in the 1950s, families often secured one- or two-bedroom apartments in vecindades as a vital survival strategy. The poorest families often stayed with friends or other family members, increasing the occupant density as housing shortages for low-income residents worsened.

Lewis believed the vecindad was an ideal place to explore life in the “culture of poverty,” a microcosm of urban communities struggling with poverty. The Children of Sánchez introduced readers to life in two vecindades in Tepito: Casa Blanca (called Casa Grande in the book) and Peluqueros (Panaderos). Jesús had migrated from Tepoztlán and lived with his four children in a one-room apartment in Casa Blanca, a large tenement that housed families from a variety of working-class backgrounds.17 The book’s introduction, the only place readers hear from Lewis, described these spaces and their significance in detail. Casa Blanca was enclosed on the north and south by the high cement walls, and on the east and west sides by gates that closed in the evenings, controlling access to interior. Occupying an entire square block, the 72,000-square-foot complex had 157 apartments that often housed several generations in one- or two-room units. Each apartment consisted of one large room, with a small entryway that had a toilet and sometimes an oven. Children often slept in the same room as their parents, and the whole vecindad shared a public bath. The exterior walls, adorned with advertisements for beer and Pepsi-Cola, were lined with bay doors that lead to carpentry and shoe repair shops and a beauty parlor, dry cleaner, and food market. These shops, a local open-air market, and the public bath at the southwest corner of the tenement, provided most of the residents’ daily needs. Residents could pray at one of two shrines, located at the west and east entrances, dedicated to the vecindad’s patron saints, the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Virgin of Zapopan. Religious festivals, holidays, weddings, and weekly dances provided opportunities for the residents to celebrate collectively in four large, paved patios. Children played soccer games in the evenings and young boys in the tenement formed gangs. Neighbors often established close friendships and married other residents. Since the residents in these tenements shared spaces that allowed them to cope with urban life in similar ways, a strong sense of community developed. Given their self-sufficiency and strong commitment to the community inside the tenement, Lewis described the inhabitants as “almost strangers to the rest of Mexico City.”18

The book also highlighted the importance of having labor options outside the industrial jobs officials promoted as part of rapid industrialization. Many residents relied on doing work inside the vecindad washing clothes, cleaning houses, or sewing for their neighbors. Others worked in or owned businesses in the shops at the exterior. These labor arrangements were an important survival mechanism, allowing residents to earn income in their immediate vicinity without having to commute to work in other parts of the city. When Tepiteños later resisted the destruction of these tenements, in the 1980s, some activists accused the government of resenting the independence from capitalist employers these labor arrangements gave the residents, including from those employers’ ability to determine fair compensation in terms of money or reciprocal labor. They argued that the government wanted to get rid of these spaces to create more wage laborers for industry and destroy residents’ ability to survive in the city.19

The collective aesthetic of the vecindad appeared chaotic and antithetical to that of the proponents of modernist architecture. Patios were cluttered with furniture, ladders, tanks, and crates. People busily filed in and out of their apartments navigating the turkeys, chickens, goats, pigs, and pets that often roamed unrestrained during the day. Plants, flowerpots, laundry lines, chicken coops, and gas tanks cluttered the low, flat roofs that covered the front rooms.20 The modernist architects the federal government employed to design housing projects concluded that the single-room apartments served too many multiple functions and allowed too little individual privacy, especially when family members shared beds.

The lives of the Sánchez children exposed the reality of living in lower-class neighborhoods behind the facade of the middle-class spaces the government touted. In the book, Tepito localized the stories of violence, suffering, deprivation, infidelity, broken homes, and official neglect in the neighborhoods the poor occupied. Lewis described Tepito as a poor neighborhood, with a few factories, public baths, run-down housing, and pulquerías, highlighting what he considered spaces of social dysfunction that resulted from poverty in urban settings. These included signs of despair: high levels of alcoholism, homicide, and delinquency in the neighborhood. Descriptions of this dysfunction, as well as Tepito’s reputation for supporting the nation’s largest second-hand market, commonly called the “thieves market,” in a neighborhood just blocks north of the tourism destination of the Zocolo, or central plaza, challenged officials’ claims that the physical improvements that were attracting tourism to the city center were the result of a more comprehensive transformation in the standard of living for most capitalinos.

Oscar Lewis in the Press

The Children of Sánchez became the center of a vocal and heated public debate over the social cost of the PRI’s rapid industrialization and modernization policies. When the Fondo de Cultura Económia (FCE) published the Spanish-language edition (Los hijos de Sánchez), in October 1964, the book became an instant sensation, selling out its six-thousand-copy first printing five months later. Already a bestseller in other countries, its popularity in Mexico was unprecedented for an academic publication. The praise, critique, and general discussion it sparked generated hundreds of commentaries, making it the most written about book in Mexico. It was also one of the rare bestsellers for an anthropologist in the United States, and its national and international popularity brought it to the attention of government officials and supporters of the PRI.

The press coverage of The Children of Sánchez scandal extended the reach of Lewis’s work far beyond the literate public. Not only was book itself popular, but the hundreds of articles, cartoons, academic panels, and radio programs dedicated to it ensured that even people who had not read it knew what it was about and the points of contention. The publisher compiled over five hundred newspaper clippings related to the book. In letters to colleagues, Lewis initially seemed pleased that the controversy had at least gotten the government’s attention. He had sought to bring the problems of the people living in urban slums to the public’s attention, and he believed that the increased government spending in poorer neighborhoods since the book’s publication meant that it was a success.21

But the book’s popularity embarrassed and angered those who felt the city had made progress and deserved recognition as a clean, orderly, and modernized metropolis. Lewis’s examination of the urban poor’s struggle created an image problem for public officials ahead of the 1968 Olympic games. For political opponents of the PRI and social activists, the book offered an opportunity to discuss the issue of unequal economic development. Lewis was certainly not the first person to challenge the unequal development of the country, but his work entered the national conversation on urban poverty at a time when the government was actively pursuing an international image of the capital as a model for social and economic development. The scrutiny of these aspects of urban life in the capital undermined the official narrative that Mexico City was an orderly modern city with a unified citizenry.

The rhetoric intensified in the months after the initial publication, as critics began calling the book an attack on the nation. Although Lewis had anticipated some pushback from his study, he was shocked at the public scandal that erupted in Mexico City over the Spanish-language edition. Lewis had written to his publisher, in 1961, that the negative reviewers of Five Families seemed particularly to resent it that a “gringo” had acquainted the world and even Mexicans with the poverty and misery many families endured.22 Now, since he had already introduced the topic and the informants in Five Families, he had thought this more in-depth study based on his earlier data would be welcomed. Instead, accusations about his intentions, accuracy, and ethics required him to constantly defend his work. Some critics claimed that Lewis’s lack of a specific solution was evidence that his work was an unproductive attack on Mexico’s image. One cartoonist distilled Lewis’s contribution to public discourse down to a theoretical ideal type, a “child of Sánchez,” implying the anthropologist had done little more than provide a label for the poor. To some extent, this phrase did become synonymous with a poor person and entered the cultural lexicon.23 Lewis even noted in a letter to a colleague that the phrase “children of Sánchez” had popped up in three plays, as well as in advertisements for a youth program that included field trips to working-class neighborhoods in the capital.24

Critics mobilized to discredit what they believed was an unfair representation of Mexico City. Within months, two reporters had tracked down Casa Blanca and the Sánchez family, which disturbed Lewis, who had taken steps to keep their identities secret. Announcing that the “the Children of Sanchéz [had] been found!” and “Oscar Lewis Lies!” Guillermo Ochoa’s front-page article in Novedades, on February 22, 1965, claimed to refute the unflattering portrait of the poor Lewis had painted. Ochoa systematically listed what he considered the inconsistencies in his portrayals. The Novedades exposé began by assailing Lewis’s accuracy, citing minute details that differed from Lewis’s account as evidence that he was either a sloppy researcher or had lied in order to write a more sensational story. In reality, Lewis had intentionally changed some details to protect his informants’ identities.

Ochoa worked to undercut the notions that the Sánchez family was “typical” of those living in poverty, arguing instead they should be seen as an aberration. This challenge was critical to repair the perceived damage done to the national image. He concluded that if Lewis had indeed chosen the family randomly, the selection was “terrible for Mexico” since the residents of Casa Blanca did not resemble the those in The Children of Sánchez. Although the Sánchez family refused to speak with the reporters, Ochoa’s discussions with neighbors convinced him that the vecindad residents were a happy and, increasingly, an educated group, displaying none of the social dysfunction or immorality of the Sánchez children. He also challenged Lewis’s description of the aesthetics and material culture of the vecindad as a cluttered space. Ochoa, likely unaware of the photographic documentation that Lewis had generated during his research, described a “clean vecindad” filled with well-dressed people. He argued based on this snapshot view that Lewis’s depiction was a fabrication. He had seen no turkeys, pigs, and chickens roaming free in patios cluttered with ladders, furniture, and flowerpots.25

Twelve years after Ernesto Uruchurtu took office as mayor and had instituted his urban beatification programs, the publication of The Children of Sánchez suggested that the mayor’s policies amounted to a successfully constructed facade behind which the city’s poor residents lived in deteriorating spaces. By implication, it called his other policies and supposed accomplishments, and the extent to which the PRI had been responsive to the needs of its citizens, into question. Unlike representations of the poor in popular culture, this academic treatment of poverty in the city center could not be dismissed as humor or art. It challenged the public to reconsider what it meant to live in the capital’s poor neighborhoods by introducing them to daily life in a vecindad and neighborhood behind that modern facade.

Silencing The Children of Sánchez

Two months after the FCE’s second printing of the book in December (another six thousand copies), the public scandal reached its apex when a premier academic society launched a legal and public relations campaign to censor it.26 The Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística (SMGE, Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics) codified various complaints about the book into an opposition campaign. The society’s officers held a special meeting on February 9, 1965, at which they laid out their charges and outlined an offensive strategy against the book, its author, and the publisher. At the meeting, the secretary general of the SMGE, Luis Cataño Morlet, accused Lewis of leveraging his academic status to circulate fiction as science, valorizing immoral behavior, and exploiting an impoverished family to advance his professional career. Members accused the anthropologist of unethically invading the family’s privacy and then exposing them to the nation. Other SMGE speakers considered the book’s depictions of social dysfunction, such as incest, infidelity, criminality, drug addiction, and police abuse, too vulgar and pornographic for public circulation. Concerned about the book’s potential influence of abroad, the society’s supporters tried to discredit its academic credibility and challenged Lewis’s veracity and intentions. The SMGE took out ads and wrote editorial pieces that outlined its objections and brought the public into the debate. Two days after the special meeting, SMGE members filed a formal libel complaint with the federal attorney general claiming that Lewis had violated obscenity laws by including crude language and descriptions of immoral behaviors and had defamed national institutions. They demanded the book be banned, Lewis barred from the country, and the FCE director, Arnaldo Orfila Reynal, reprimanded.27

The SMGE offensive revealed its central concern: the tarnishing of country’s international image as a socially unified, modern, and moral society. Labeling the book “anti-Mexican” and casting Lewis as either a subversive agent or an arrogant foreign observer, the SMGE made the case for why the international community should ignore the popular book. Before the Sánchez family was found, some critics had even claimed that it was only a figment of Lewis’s imagination, interpreting his use of pseudonyms to protect their privacy—standard practice in anthropological writing—as deceit. Without any evidence, other commentators accused Lewis of being an FBI agent who wanted to weaken the revolutionary government in the eyes of the international community. Others claimed that Lewis had brought with him an imperialist outlook based on old stereotypes of a backward, crime-ridden nation, which had blinded him to the actual progress the revolutionary governments had made.

The SMGE campaign opened up a new space for debating government policies and officials while seemingly debating the merits of Lewis’s book. Supporters of the book praised its sobering assessment of the lack of progress made by government officials for the most vulnerable sections of the city. Academics and writers who knew Lewis often defended his professionalism and accuracy. The FCE’s monthly paper, La Gaceta, regularly printed the statements of those who came to Lewis’s defense.28 Defending the book became one safe way to critique government policies without fear of reprisal. The SMGE campaign proved to be a watershed moment in the debate. Those who were critical of unequal development in the city charged that the SMGE had denigrated the nation by its insistence that the conditions of the poor not be seen.

Several magazines made use of the SMGE’s outcry over the unflattering portrait of the city to weigh in on the image crisis itself. An edition of Siempre, printed in March 1965, went on the attack, criticizing the society’s campaign. The cover showed a wealthy resident covering his ears, eyes, and mouth as the reality of urban poverty hovered above him. Writers further condemned the argument that Lewis had somehow misconstrued reality, calling absurd the claim that descriptions of tenement life in the words of the poor themselves could only be a foreign government’s machinations to discredit the nation.29 The same issue ran a cartoon by the well-known cartoonist Vadillo that showed a well-fed and well-dressed group of capitalinos recoiling in horror as ragged and frail characters rise from the pages of the book to force them to confront the reality of Mexican poverty.30

Cartoonists, in particular, lampooned the SMGE’s negative reactions to the book. One article in Excelsior went after the society with biting visual commentary. Abel Quezada’s “Mexico, Pais Denigrable,” contained mocking illustrations of the charge that the book exceeded “all limits of decency.” Quezada agreed that Lewis’s book “exhibits the misery of the barrio in Mexico City” and thus, “denigrates us.” In his first illustration, a well-dressed capitalino turns away in disgust at the sight of a poor family, proclaiming shock at the indecency of seeing such realities. Quezada juxtaposed this image with an explanation that it is the duty of all people to speak and write about the misery they witness instead of denouncing ugly things for “exceeding the limits of decency.” He concluded with a warning that denying what everyone knew existed is what truly denigrated the nation.31

The National School of Economics provided a formal venue for the debate when it organized an event at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National University, UNAM) on March 4, 1965. The debate included members of the society and journalists and academics on both sides. The SMGE representatives reiterated their objections. Jacobo Zabludovsky, a well-respected journalist at the time, defended the book as an accurate depiction of the poor residents living in vecindades. Other journalists and academics agreed that The Children of Sánchez family offered the general public a realistic look at the costs of rapid industrialization for the most vulnerable populations. Manuel Sánchez sent a tape-recorded message confirming that his family existed and affirming the accuracy of Lewis’s book. The UNAM meeting highlighted the extent to which the discussion of the book had become a surrogate for larger debates over poverty and development in the capital. For months, critics continued to ask why Lewis had chosen to depict poverty in Mexico instead of the United States and why the anthropologist had not discussed some of the successful policies the government had implemented. Many commentators accused the SMGE and its supporters of trying hide this side of the city. The Children of Sánchez became a focal point of a discourse over who was benefiting from the new course being taken by the revolutionary government.32

Attorney general Antonio Rocha dismissed the charges on April 6, 1965, and used the opportunity to communicate to the world that the federal government respected the freedom of the press and democracy. The international popularity of the book made it difficult to censor without significant embarrassment when the eyes of the world were turned to Mexico City ahead of the Olympic games. The Children of Sánchez may have damaged some aspects of the capital’s modernist image, but Rocha used the opportunity to bolster the country’s democratic credentials by dismissing the charges. The attorney general also sought to undermine of the book’s impact by casting his decision not to pursue charges as stemming from the fact that Lewis’s thesis did not accurately represent urban reality.33

Conclusion: The Sánchez Legacy

Following the UNAM debates and the attorney general’s dismissal of the SMGE’s lawsuit, the scandal largely died down. Intellectuals and social commentators continued to criticize the society’s attempt to censor the book as an effort to hide reality, arguing that media too often offered sentimental, romanticized depictions of the poor that would not offend officials. The critiques challenged the established practice of self-censorship whereby the media focused on favorable depictions of the city to avoid official forms of censorship or to garner government patronage.

Lewis’s letters to his publisher offer a look at how this self-censorship played out. The Fondo de Cultura Económia, a government-subsidized publisher, placed increasing pressure on its director, Arnaldo Orfila Reynal, to end the relationship with Lewis. Even though both of the first two printings had sold out, the embarrassment of being named in the SMGE complaint pushed Fondo de Cultura Económia to release Lewis from his contract to find a new publisher. Before the end of the year, Orfila had been fired. His firing underscored what critics of the SMGE campaign saw as evidence that the press did not exercise enough independence.

Lewis’s exchange with the Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel explored the limits of artistic freedom of expression in the capital. Buñuel’s film Los Olvidados (1950) had set off its own controversy a decade and a half earlier because of its gritty depiction of juvenile delinquency in the slums of Mexico City. Although Buñuel’s film did not inspire the same intensity of debate as Lewis’s The Children of Sánchez, its critics leveled similar accusations against Buñuel, objecting to a foreign filmmaker exploring the country’s urban poverty and tarnishing Mexico’s image. Unsurprisingly, when Lewis wanted The Children of Sánchez to be made into a film, he insisted that Buñuel direct it. Buñuel declined Lewis’s multiple attempts, in 1965, to get him to direct a film based on one of his books, arguing that it would be “absurd to try to make this film in Mexico,” unless it focused on only the positive parts of the book. Buñuel liked Lewis’s work as source material for a film but believed an accurate portrayal of poverty in Mexico would be politically difficult; the director preferred not to make the film rather than sanitize it.34 Three years after the controversy died down, Hall Bartlett acquired the screen rights to the book. The resulting film, starring Anthony Quinn as the family patriarch, had a limited release in 1978, eight years after Lewis’s death, and was a financial failure. Bartlett’s adaptation sanitized many of the embarrassing aspects of the book and relied on more stereotypical portrayals.

The Children of Sánchez debates provided a public lightning rod for supporters and critics of national and capital city politics. After the scandal over The Children of Sánchez erupted, Uruchurtu’s policies came under increasing scrutiny. The capital’s political opponents and social activists seized on the newfound public attention on the plight of the poor as a rallying cry in their efforts to oust him. His decision, in 1966, to destroy hundreds of homes in the low-income colonias of Ajusco and San Juan de Aragon ignited a public controversy that contributed to his forced resignation. Politicians in the opposition party, the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party, PAN), cast Uruchurtu as an enemy of the poor. Their criticism that PRI policies embraced an unchecked and inhumane modernization of the city that benefited only the wealthiest segments echoed the debates over The Children of Sánchez. Several PRI officials even took the opportunity to express outrage, protesting “public works without human and social sentiments.”35

Uruchurtu’s ouster illustrated the extent to which the trajectory of the PRI’s modernization project was contested. Commentators concerned with the authoritarian nature of one-party rule and with unequal economic development used public debates such as the one over Lewis’s book to challenge aspects of PRI rule. Uruchurtu’s beautification projects did not change the reality that the majority of the capital’s residents had not entered the middle class and that the PRI maintained a political monopoly over the capital and the federal government. The military’s massacre of student protestors at the plaza in Tlatelolco, in 1968, further undermined the PRI’s legitimacy as the standard bearer of revolutionary ideals. If The Children of Sánchez embarrassed officials by showing the poverty of those who had been left behind by PRI policies, the massacre demonstrated the lengths to which the government would go to quell popular dissent.

Lewis’s work raised a number of ethical concerns for anthropologists doing ethnographic work in Mexico. He followed the public debates closely and discussed them with several colleagues. Lewis also worried about his inability to protect his informants’ identities after the Novedades reporters had found Manuel and spoken to people in Casa Blanca. Family members told the publisher that they feared reprisals from the government once their identities were discovered. Although several members of the family later gave interviews, these ethical concerns raised issues for the practice of anthropologists using informants to explore politically sensitive subjects. Lewis expressed particular concern that local critics were connecting his work to the international scandal in the academic community known as the Camelot Affair in 1965. The project, primarily funded by the United States Army and the Department of Defense, employed teams of psychologists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, and economists to study and identify the sources of social and political instability in countries of strategic interest to the United States, specifically in Latin America. In the context of the Cold War, the government used social scientists as tools in its efforts to prevent the spread of communism. When details about the project became public, academics in Latin America and the United States protested the use of social scientists as Cold War weapons. Throughout Latin America, but especially in Mexico, Project Camelot heightened suspicions about the motivations of North American researchers; many were asked to leave the country and denied further access to research subjects. Lewis asked his colleagues to understand, despite the accusations that he was a foreign agent, that his work should not be connected to the Camelot Affair.36

Writing to Arnaldo Orfila, in November 1965, Lewis expressed hope that the book had inspired the government to give more attention to the slums he had studied and to spend on improvements in the area.37 Lewis died in 1970, before the municipal government took any significant action in these areas. When it did take action, it was not in the form of improvements. The Departamento del Distrito Federal (Department of the Federal District, DDF), announced the Tepito Plan, ostensibly to renovate the neighborhood in which the Sánchez family lived. In reality, the plan called for the destruction, not the renovation, of most of the neighborhood’s vecindades. Although government documents from the time mention the public outcry over the book only in passing or indirectly, officials saw the tenements as a physical target to use to combat the social ills at the heart of the embarrassment the book had caused.38 The plan was met with a decade of local resistance and political organization among the residents in Tepito, who tried to pressure the government to truly renovate vecindades instead of replacing them. As Lewis had discussed, these spaces were vital areas of urban survival for Mexico City’s poor. The 1985 earthquake in Mexico destroyed many of Tepito’s vecindades, including Casa Blanca, and others were demolished shortly after.

Perhaps Lewis’s most lasting legacy was his contribution to the theoretical and public policy debates over the generational persistence of poverty. In the introductions to both Five Families and The Children of Sánchez, Lewis introduced his often-misinterpreted and misused theoretical concept: the “culture of poverty.” The theory was Lewis’s attempt to explain the lack of upward mobility among the poor. Lewis argued the culture of poverty explained a system of values and behaviors that families living in poverty developed as adaptations to survive urban poverty. The failure of national institutions to solve many of the problems of the poor led them to create their own solutions and, often, to develop a distrust of government. He believed that the conditions of poverty had so damaged the poor that they could no longer integrate into civil society as it was experienced by other social classes. Of all the traits that characterized those living in the culture of poverty, this lack of integration into the social institutions (political parties, hospitals, banks, unions, museums, libraries, etc.) used by the urban middle class predominated and created a subculture based on adaptive behaviors and values that were passed on to future generations. He believed multigenerational family studies could best identify the traits that perpetuated poverty. In the case of the Sánchez family, the fact that Jesús’s children failed to improve on their father’s meager economic advancement seemed to confirm the existence of that subculture.39

In the United States, the culture of poverty thesis entered the public discourse at a time when eradicating poverty was a national policy agenda. Lyndon B. Johnson’s assistant secretary of labor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, applied Lewis’s theory in his “Moynihan Report” in an attempt to explain persistent poverty among African American communities in the United States. Moynihan suggested that the legacies of slavery and the Jim Crow laws had marginalized African Americans to the point of forcing them to develop a resistant culture, characterized by weak family structures that prevented upward mobility. Political critics of the report accused Moynihan of “blaming the victim.” Frank Tannenbaum and other scholars had raised similar concerns to Lewis that he was placing too much responsibility on individuals to engage with institutions, instead of on the government to facilitate that engagement. While social scientists increasingly rejected the use of the phrase or explanations that culture explained poverty reproduction, the concept continued to be influential in political decisions over government spending for antipoverty programs. The ambiguity and misinterpretation of “the culture of poverty” allowed different political actors to adapt its meaning to their ideological beliefs. Those in favor of cutting funding to poverty-relief programs believed those funds were wasted on people who were culturally incapable of using them to get out of poverty. On the other end of the spectrum, some reformers believed that access to more resources would eventually allow the poor to take advantage of social institutions and rise out of poverty.40

UNAM anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla explored the underlying issue behind the scandal that erupted over how The Children of Sánchez portrayed the capital in an article in Mañana, “Is the Study of Poverty a Subversive Science?,” in 1965.41 Although he acknowledged problems with Lewis’s portrayal of the Sánchez family as “typical,” he argued that this and any other issues with the study and the resulting publication did not negate the fact that even if the Sánchez family was slightly altered to protect their anonymity, thousands of others living in the capital shared their conditions and were ignored by those in power. In short, while the unflattering portrait did not constitute the whole reality of the nation, it definitely formed part of it. He condemned the SMGE for not embracing its capacity to provide insightful critiques of scientific work, and opting instead to label studies of reality “subversive.” He concluded that academic work that portrayed the problems of society could only be considered subversive in a nation that rejects the possibility of a better future and the ideal of progress.42 Bonfil Batalla’s article tapped a common source of embarrassment for those who labeled Lewis’s book a subversive denigration; the lives of the Sánchez children created an image crisis as well as an affront to the nation’s reputation for officials more accustomed to seeing praise for their urban renewal achievements than reminders of what remained to be done.

Literature Review

Studies of Mexico City after World War II are part of a recently expanding historiography on the history of one of the most populous urban centers in the world. Jonathan Kendall’s La Capital: The Biography of Mexico City (1988)43 offers a good entry point into the politics and development of the capital, as well as a critical assessment of what the economic miracle and PRI policies meant for poor capitalinos. Diane Davis’s Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century44 comprehensively examines the city’s development as the result of the overlap and confrontation between local and national objectives. Scholarship on Ernesto Uruchurtu’s tenure as the head of the Department of the Federal District is scarce and deserves more in-depth treatment. Rachel Kram Villarreal’s dissertation, “Gladiolas for the Children of Sánchez: Ernesto P. Uruchurtu’s Mexico City” (2008), provides the most comprehensive review of Uruchurtu’s urban beautification and moralization campaigns. She places his efforts to clean up the capital and “moralize” its citizens against the backdrop of the economic miracle and unflattering popular culture depictions, including The Children of Sánchez, of poverty and unequal development. Joshua Salyers’s dissertation, “Impoverished Spaces: Modernist Housing, Local Identity and the Vecindad in Tepito, 1940–1985,” puts the debates over the PRI’s modernizing agenda and popular culture depictions of the capital, including Lewis’s work, against the backdrop of Tepito residents’ struggle to protect their vecindades against the modernizing programs of federal and municipal officials. “Casa Blanca Revisited,” Salyers’s virtual reconstruction of the tenement discussed in The Children of Sánchez, provides an interactive three-dimensional environment in which visitors can explore the social and economic importance of the vecindad in the everyday lives of its residents. Louise Walker’s Waking from the Dream complements the study of municipal politics with an insightful analysis of the loose alliance between the middle class and the PRI as cracks in the economic miracle began to show in the 1970s and 1980s.45

Recent contributions have helped define the modernist projects of government officials and intellectual elites in this era, but more scholarly attention is needed on the multifaceted ways that state actors sought to modernize the city. Mary Kay Vaughn and Stephen Lewis’s anthology Eagle and the Virgin: Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940 (2006) provides a framework for the cultural analysis that the post-1940 era needs. Books by Ricardo Pérez Montfort, Estampas de nacionalismo popular Mexicano: Ensayos sobre cultural popular y nacionalism (1994); Enrique Florescano, El patrimonio cultual de Mexico (1993); and Rick A. López, Crafting Mexico: Intellectuals, Artisans, and the State after the Revolution (2010) are also starting points for understanding how government officials attempted to unify the aesthetics of both the revolution and modernity into a national culture.46 Edward R. Burian’s edited collection, Modernity and the Architecture of Mexico (1997) and Patricia Olsen’s Artifacts of Revolution: Architecture, Society and Politics in Mexico City (2008) explore this process in the capital’s built environment. Kathryn O’Rourke’s Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital(2016) examines the attempts of architects from disparate schools of thought to create and consolidate a national architecture that simultaneously conveyed Mexico’s history and modernity.47

Several American anthropologists produced important ethnographic works on the process of modernization for rural communities in Mexico in the 20th century that have become standard reading for students of anthropology. In Robert Redfield’s most notable works, Tepoztlán: A Mexican Village (1930) and The Little Community (1956),48 he examined what he believed were the fundamental characteristics of a peasant community and explored the changes in such communities as they increasingly came into contact with modern society. Oscar Lewis’s Life in a Mexican Village: Tepoztlán Restudied (1951) and George Foster’s Tzintzuntzan: Mexican Peasants in a Changing World (1967) challenged Redfield’s more idealistic characterization of peasant life and helped shift attention toward a more complex understanding of peasant societies. Cynthia Hewitt de Alcántara’s Anthropological Perspectives on Rural Mexico (1984)49 offers a useful general overview of how these studies contribute to broader debates about the place of rural communities in the nation and the shifting anthropological focus toward urban studies. Oscar Lewis’s Five Families: Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty, The Children of Sánchez, and A Death in the Sánchez Family made issues of urban poverty in Mexico City a prominent research subject intricately tied to the study of national politics. Susan Rigdon (The Culture Facade, 1988) produced a comprehensive overview of the evolution of Lewis’s ideas and work in Mexico.50

Some well-known intellectuals, particularly Daniel Cosio Villegas51 and Poniatowksa52, who had been mildly critical of Oscar Lewis’s choice to study poverty in Mexico, exemplified the changing attitudes of scholars, both inside and outside the country, toward the PRI. Anthologies of protest and popular mobilization, such as Power and Protest: Latin American Social Movements (1989), increasingly include chapters on social organization in Mexico City. The aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake in 1985 encouraged further critical looks at populations in the city being ignored by the federal and municipal governments. Silvano Héctor Rosales Ayala’s report, Participación popular y reconstrucción urbana: Tepito, 1985–1987 (1987), focuses on local community organization in Tepito in the absence of government efforts to rebuild the neighborhood and explores the intersection of poverty, community activism, and governmental neglect of poor neighborhoods.53

Studies of the spatial and economic inequality in the capital proliferated in the 1970s and 1980s as historians sought to understand the relationship among various social and economic actors and the government. Several scholars cast municipal policies as extensions of the objectives of the president, the PRI, and powerful economic investors. Susan Eckstein explored this relationship and the PRI’s strategies for political cooption of the urban poor in The Poverty of Revolution: State and Urban Poor in Mexico (1977). Exemplifying this trend, Martha Schteingart’s Los productores del espacio habitable: Estado, empresa y sociedad en la Ciudad de México (1989); Alan Gilbert and Peter Ward’s Housing, the State, and the Poor: Policy and Practice in Three Latin American Cities (1985); and Ward’s Mexico City traced urban development and the reproduction of poverty, especially in terms of housing access, to the economic and spatial development policies of the federal government.54 Antonio Azuela de la Cueva’s La ciudad, la propiedad privada, y el derecho (1989)55 contributes to our understanding of the legal dimension of land acquisition and regularization that accompanied rapid urbanization, exploring the development of distinctions between legal and illegal settlements. Wayne Cornelius’s Politics and the Migrant Poor in Mexico challenged this tendency to assume the political objectives of the government dictated local and national relationships. He argued that the number and organization of migrant residents in various neighborhoods explained significant differences in their political relationships with the PRI. Gilberts and Ward’s Housing, the State, and the Poor56 examined specifically the intersection of government objectives and the urban poor’s social organization and survival strategies that produce various types of housing tenure in Mexico City.

Primary Sources

The national archive, Archivo General de la Nación (AGN), is the primary starting spot for research on Mexico City. Before visiting, researchers should look through the online Guía General, understanding that this guide does not cover all the collections. At the AGN, they should acquaint themselves with the guides and archivists in the reference room before heading to the collections galleries. The presidential archives and the Secretaría de Gobernación in the AGN are especially useful for studying federal policies, as well as citizens’ complaints against those policies.

Researchers can find a visual record of working-class neighborhoods in the Fototeca, particularly the Hermanos Mayo negatives. The Archivo Histórico de la Ciudad de México holds important records for the Department of the Federal District, which are useful for exploring the physical and economic development of the capital. The Museo de la Ciudad de México also has a rare books library and a useful collection of works on the capital. The Archivo Historico de la Secretaria de Salud contains some useful investigations of health conditions and proposed solutions for housing issues in poor areas of the capital.

The various departments at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) hold a wide variety of personal and professional collections from people affiliated with the university. In particular, the archives of the departments of architecture and industrial design have the papers of prominent architects and designers, such as Mario Pani and Clara Porset, who contributed to the modernist project in Mexico City. The collections at UNAM and the Archivo Histórico at El Colegio de México are also useful for reconstructing academic debates over poverty and the legacy of PRI policies. Tracing the debates over The Children of Sánchez or any other public discussions require researchers to reconstruct the public debates that existed in newspapers, academic journals, and public conferences. The Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, the Hermeroteca Nacional (UNAM), and the Biblioteca Nacional are the primary repositories for periodicals of the era. Lerdo also has a useful collection of newspaper clippings organized by subject that is an excellent starting place for constructing a narrative of the public debates.

Finally, the most important stops for research on Mexico City’s working-class neighborhoods are the neighborhoods themselves. Contact leaders and neighborhood organizers, who are often happy to discuss local history, arrange interviews, and direct researchers to sources or even informal, local archives. For example, in Tepito, where Oscar Lewis conducted his research, visit the Centro de Estudios Tepiteños and speak with Alfonso Hernández about local history.

Further Reading

Babb, Sarah. Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

    Berger, Dina, and Andrew Grant Wood, eds. Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

      Brandenburg, Frank R. The Making of Modern Mexico. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964.Find this resource:

        Burian, Edward R., ed. Modernity and the Architecture of Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.Find this resource:

          Camp, Roderic Ai. Entrepreneurs and Politics in Twentieth-Century Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

            Cline, Howard. Mexico: Revolution to Evolution, 1940–1960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.Find this resource:

              Cosío Villegas, Daniel. “La Crisis de México.” Cuadernos Americanos 32 (March–April 1947): 29–51.Find this resource:

                Cross, John C. Informal Politics: Street Vendors and the State in Mexico City. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

                  Davis, Diane E. Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.Find this resource:

                    Gilbert, Alan, and Peter M. Ward. Housing, the State and the Poor: Policy and Practice in Three Latin American Cities. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985.Find this resource:

                      González de Bustamante, Celeste. “Muy Buenas Noches”: Mexico, Television, and the Cold War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                        González Casanova, Pablo. Democracy in Mexico. Translated by Danielle Salti. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.Find this resource:

                          Herrera Calderón, Fernando, and Adela Cedillo, eds. Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964–1982. New York: Routledge, 2012.Find this resource:

                            Joseph, Gilbert M., Anne Rubenstein, and Eric Zolov, eds. Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico since 1940. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

                              Kiddle, Amelia, and María L. O. Muñoz, eds. Populism in Twentieth-Century Mexico: The Presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas and Luis Echeverría. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                Lewis, Oscar. The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family. New York: Basic Books, 1961.Find this resource:

                                  Lewis, Oscar. A Death in the Sánchez Family. New York: Random House, 1969.Find this resource:

                                    Lewis, Oscar. Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty. New York: Basic Books, 1959.Find this resource:

                                      Lomnitz, Claudio, ed. Vicios públicos, virtudes privadas: La corrupción en México. Mexico City: Ciesas, 2000.Find this resource:

                                        López, Rick A. Crafting Mexico: Intellectuals, Artisans, and the State after the Revolution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                          Moreno, Julio. Yanke Don’t Go Home! Mexican Nationalism, American Business Culture, and the Shaping of Modern Mexico, 1920–1950. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.Find this resource:

                                            Navarro, Aaron W. Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938–1954. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                              Niblo, Stephen R. Mexico in the 1940s: Modernity, Politics, and Corruption. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1999.Find this resource:

                                                Olsen, Patricia Elizabeth. Artifacts of Revolution: Architecture, Society, and Politics in Mexico City. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                  Poniatowska, Elena. Massacre in Mexico. Translated by Helen R. Lane. Columbia: University of Missouri, 1992.Find this resource:

                                                    Price, David H. Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

                                                      Quiroz, Alberto. Historias para Oscar Lewis: “El reverso de ‘Los hijos de Sánchez’.” Mexico City: B. Costa-Amic, 1966.Find this resource:

                                                        Rigdon, Susan A. The Culture Facade: Art, Science, and Politics in the Work of Oscar Lewis. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.Find this resource:

                                                          Rojas, Loa O., and José Antonio. “La transformación de la zona central, ciudad de México: 1930–1970.” In Ciudad de México: Ensayo de construcción de una historia. Edited by Alejandro Moreno Toscano, 225–234. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1978.Find this resource:

                                                            Rosales Ayala, Silvano Héctor. Participación popular y reconstrucción urbana (Tepito 1985–1987). Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1987.Find this resource:

                                                              Salyers, Joshua. “Impoverished Spaces: Modernist Housing, Local Identity and the Vecindad in Tepito, 1940–1985.” PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2017.Find this resource:

                                                                Salyers, Joshua. “Casa Blanca Revisited.” Virtual Narratives website.

                                                                Villarreal, Rachel Kram. “Gladiolas for the Children of Sánchez: Ernesto P. Uruchurtu’s Mexico City 1950–1968.” PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                                  Walker, Louise E. Waking from the Dream: Mexico’s Middle Classes after 1968. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

                                                                    Ward, Peter. Mexico City: The Production and Reproduction of Urban Environment. London: Belhaven, 1990.Find this resource:

                                                                      Wilkie, James W. The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.Find this resource:

                                                                        Zolov, Eric. Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.Find this resource:

                                                                          Notes:

                                                                          (1.) Susan Gauss, Made in Mexico: Regions, Nation, and the State in the Rise of Mexican Industrialism, 1920–1940s (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), 5–14; and Sarah Babb, Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

                                                                          (2.) Stephen R. Niblo, Mexico in the 1940s: Modernity, Politics, and Corruption (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 168–172.

                                                                          (3.) James Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change since 1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970), 144–145, 166–167, 299.

                                                                          (4.) Daniel Cosío Villegas, “La crisis de México,” Cuadernos Americanos 32 (April 1947): 29–51.

                                                                          (5.) Julio Moreno, Yankee Don’t Go Home! Mexican Nationalism, American Business Culture, and the Shaping of Modern Mexico, 1920–1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

                                                                          (6.) Diane E. Davis, Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), 133–158.

                                                                          (7.) Edward R. Burian, ed., Modernity and the Architecture of Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997); and Graciela de Garay, “¿Quién pone el orden el la vivienda moderna? El Multifamiliar Miguel Alemán visto por sus habitants y vecinos,” in Modernidad habitada: Multifamiliar Miguel Alemán, ciudad de México, 1949–1999, ed. Graciela de Garay (Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2004), 13–68.

                                                                          (8.) Alan Gilbert and Peter Ward, Housing, the State, and the Poor: Policy and Practice in Three Latin American Cities (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985); and Peter Ward, Mexico City: The Production and Reproduction of Urban Environment (London: Belhaven, 1990).

                                                                          (9.) Rachel Kram Villareal, “Gladiolas for the Children of Sánchez: Ernesto P. Uruchurtu’s Mexico City, 1950–1968” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2008), 133–134, 190–192.

                                                                          (10.) For a detailed study of government architectural projects and propaganda intended to project this image leading up to the 1968 Olympic games, see Luis M Castañeda, Spectacular Mexico: Design, Propaganda, and the 1968 Olympics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014).

                                                                          (11.) Octavio Medal, “La transformación de la Ciudad de México, incrementa el turismo,” El Nacional, December 10, 1957; and “Física y moralmente: Uruchurtu lograrlo es tarea de todo ciudadano,” Excelsior, July 13, 1965.

                                                                          (12.) Dina Berger and Andrew Grant Wood, eds., Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009).

                                                                          (13.) Susan A. Rigdon, The Culture Facade: Art, Science, and Politics in the Work of Oscar Lewis (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 28–40.

                                                                          (14.) Oscar Lewis, Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty (New York: Basic Books, 1959); and Oscar Lewis, The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family (New York: Random House, 1961).

                                                                          (15.) Lewis, Children of Sánchez, 389–390.

                                                                          (16.) Lewis, Children of Sánchez, 312.

                                                                          (17.) “Casa Blanca,” November 12, 1965, box 136, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (18.) Lewis, Children of Sanchéz, xv, xxvi.

                                                                          (19.) Plan mejoramiento para el Barrio de Tepito: Programa de vivienda, vol. 1, Facultad de Arquitectura Taller 5 (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1982).

                                                                          (20.) Lewis, Children of Sánchez, xv.

                                                                          (21.) Oscar Lewis to Dr. Vera Rubin, November 12, 1965, Correspondence, box 59, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (22.) Oscar Lewis to Arnaldo Orfila, October 26, 1961, Correspondence, box 59, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (23.) “Aportacion de Oscar Lewis al Lexico Mexicano,” El Mundo, box 2, Mexican Reviews, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (24.) “Summer Studies Abroad,” Saturday Review, March 6, 1965, 62, box 57, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (25.) “¡Los Hijos de Sánchez han sido localizados!” Novedades, February 22, 1965, 1, 10.

                                                                          (26.) Lewis to Rubin, November 12, 1965.

                                                                          (27.) Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, La verdad respecto de la denuncia penal contra Los hijos de Sánchez de Oscar Lewis (Mexico City: Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, 1965), 10.

                                                                          (28.) Rigdon, Culture Facade, 165.

                                                                          (29.) “Los Hijos de Sánchez,” Siempre!, March 17, 1965, box 2, Mexican Reviews, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (30.) “Los Hijos de Sánchez,” Siempre! March 17, 1965.

                                                                          (31.) Abel Quezada, “Mexico, Pais Denigrable,” Siempre!, February 15, 1965.

                                                                          (32.) John Paddock, “Appendix: The Children of Sanchez in the Headlines,” Mesoamerican Notes 6 (1965): 69–140.

                                                                          (33.) Lewis to Rubin, November 12, 1965.

                                                                          (34.) Rigdon, Culture Facade, 145–146

                                                                          (35.) Rafael Lizardi Durán, “Uruchrutu en capilla,” El Heraldo de Mexico, September 14, 1966, 1; and Villarreal, “Gladiolas for the Children of Sánchez,” 228–229.

                                                                          (36.) Lewis to Rubin, November 12, 1965.

                                                                          (37.) Rigdon, Culture Facade, 155–156.

                                                                          (38.) Plan Tepito, Departamento del Distrito Federal, Comision del Desarrollo, Mexico City, 1–3.

                                                                          (39.) Oscar Lewis to Maurice Halperin, April 11, 1958, box 59, Oscar and Ruth Lewis Papers, 1944–76, University of Illinois Archives.

                                                                          (40.) David Harding, Michele Lamont, and Mario Luis Small, “Reconsidering Culture and Poverty,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 629 (2010): 6–27.

                                                                          (41.) Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, “El estudio de la pobreza es ciencia subversiva?,” Mañana, March 6, 1965, 5.

                                                                          (42.) Bonfil Batalla, “El estudio de la pobreza,” 7.

                                                                          (43.) Jonathan Kendall, La Capital: The Biography of Mexico City (New York: Random House, 1988).

                                                                          (44.) Davis, Urban Leviathan.

                                                                          (45.) Villarreal, “Gladiolas for the Children”; Joshua Salyers, “Impoverished Spaces: Modernist Housing, Local Identity and the Vecindad in Tepito, 1940–1985” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2017); Joshua Salyers, “Casa Blanca Revisited,” Virtual Narratives. Last modified August 21, 2017. https:www.virtualnarratives.org; and Louise E. Walker, Waking from the Dream: Mexico’s Middle Classes after 1968 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013).

                                                                          (46.) Mary Kay Vaughn and Stephen Lewis, Eagle and the Virgin: Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006); Ricardo Pérez Montfort, Estampas de nacionalismo popular Mexicano: Ensayos sobre cultural popular y nacionalism (Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social, 1994); Enrique Florescano, El patrimonio cultual de Mexico (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1997); and Rick A. López, Crafting Mexico: Intellectuals, Artisans, and the State after the Revolution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010).

                                                                          (47.) Burian, Modernity and the Architecture of Mexico; Patricia Elizabeth Olsen, Artifacts of Revolution: Architecture, Society, and Politics in Mexico City (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008); and Kathleen O’Rourke, Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017).

                                                                          (48.) Robert Redfield, Tepoztlán: A Mexican Village (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930); and Redfield, The Little Community, and Peasant Society and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956).

                                                                          (49.) Oscar Lewis, Life in a Mexican Village: Tepoztlán Restudied (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1951); George Foster, Tzintzuntzan: Mexican Peasants in a Changing World (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967); and Cynthia Hewitt de Alcántara, Anthropological Perspectives on Rural Mexico (New York: Routledge, 1984).

                                                                          (50.) Lewis, Five Families; Lewis, Death in the Sánchez Family; and Rigdon, The Culture Facade.

                                                                          (51.) Cosío Villegas, “La Crisis de México.”

                                                                          (52.) Elena Poniatowska, La Noche de Tlatelolco: Testimonios de historia oral. (Mexico City: Biblioteca Era, 1971).

                                                                          (53.) Susan Eckstein, ed., Power and Popular Protest: Latin American Social Movements (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989); and Silvano Héctor Rosales Ayala, Participación popular y reconstrucción urbana (Tepito 1985–1987) (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1987).

                                                                          (54.) Susan Eckstein, The Poverty of Revolution: State and Urban Poor in Mexico (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977); Martha Schteingart, Los Productores del Espacio Habitable: Estado, Empresa, y Sociedad en la Ciudad de México. (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1989); Alan Gilbert and Peter M. Ward, Housing, the State and the Poor: Policy and Practice in Three Latin American Cities (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985); and Ward, Mexico City: The Production and Reproduction of Urban Environment (London: Belhaven, 1990).

                                                                          (55.) Antonio Azuela de la Cueva, La ciudad, la propiedad privada, y el derecho (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 1989).

                                                                          (56.) Wayne Cornelius, Politics and the Migrant Poor in Mexico (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1975); and Gilbert and Ward, Housing, the State.