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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Transpacific Mexico : encounters with China and Japan in the age of steam (1867-1914) Mandujano López, Ruth


During the nineteenth century, the transpacific world underwent profound transformation, part of the transition from sail to steam navigation that was accompanied by a concomitant reconfiguration of power. This dissertation explores the ways in which Mexican elite interests participated in this transformation, particularly during the Porfiriato (the period between 1876 and 1911), when general Porfirio Díaz was president. It argues that the travels, discussions, and exchanges across the ocean promoted by Porfirian elites—and generated in the context of these new geographies of power—contributed to the formation not only of a transpacific region but also to refashioning the Mexican national imaginary. These transformations took place between the 1860s, when regular transpacific steam passenger services started, and the 1910s, the moment when the transpacific steam system—at least when it comes to Mexico’s participation in it—begins to be dismantled in the context of a series of revolutionary changes which include the World War and the Mexican Revolution, the opening of the Panama Canal, and the introduction of a new maritime technology: vessels run by oil. With transnationalism, global and migration studies as its main framework, this dissertation utilizes varied and multiple primary sources found in over twenty personal, municipal, provincial and federal archives and libraries from San Francisco, Mazatlan, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico City, and Oaxaca, in the Americas, to London and Hong Kong, other administrative poles of these transpacific circuits.

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