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Zachary Brittsan
Texas Tech University System (Lubbock, TX 79409-0006)
Trying Modernity: Murder and Justice in Mexico’s Age of Conflict, 1848-1871

Research and writing leading to a book on the evolution of legal culture in Mexico between 1848 and 1871.

By examining hundreds of wrongful death investigations in nineteenth-century Jalisco, Trying Modernity captures how witnesses and alleged criminals drew from their life experiences, cultural foundations, and legal understandings to acquit themselves in the courtroom. In part, such testimonies tell us something about how everyday members of civil society understood and asserted their rights. Plotting the trajectory of these frequently unlettered voices across gender, racial, and social lines also reveals their active engagement with the contentious language deployed by lettered judges, defense attorneys, and journalists. The quiet battle of words in the courtroom, too often overshadowed by the overt violence of military conflict and civil war in midcentury Mexico, ultimately shaped a cultural consensus in 1871 that would be foundational for both the authoritarian peace of the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship and notions of citizenship and criminality that extend into the present.

Project fields:
Latin American History

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 8/31/2022