UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A popular and wholesome resort : gender, class, and the Young Men’s Christian Association in Porfirian Mexico Avent, Glenn J.


In the period from 1902 to 1910, the Mexican branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) attracted a large Spanish-speaking membership composed primarily of urban white-collar employees or empleados. The Association's Mexican members found the YMCA useful in the pursuit their own social objectives. First, the Association provided Mexican empleados with a means to promote the formation of a new national identity through the transformation of cultural practices. The encouragement of sporting activity became a primary element in this program. Second, the YMCA provided a platform from which the Mexican members proclaimed their collective political power and distinct identity. Public athletic demonstrations provided the most prominent means of making these assertions. In pursuing these two objectives, the Association's empleado members constructed sexual identity alongside nationality and class. As a result, they frequently utilized concepts of gender to produce rhetorical effects in their assertions of national and class identity. The Association's empleado members consequently sought a masculine national identity in the hope of attaining a new and more powerful position within the community of nations. The linkages established between these elements of identity also enabled Mexican Association members to project a "male" class identity. The establishment of this collective "persona" enabled their attainment of visibility within the public sphere and the assertion of their combined political power.

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