A Flock Divided: Race, Religion, and Politics in Mexico, 1749-1857


A Flock Divided: Race, Religion, and Politics in Mexico, 1749-1857
Matthew D. O’Hara
2010, Duke University Press
316 pages

TO ENCOUNTER a history as stylishly written as Matthew O’Hara’s text is refreshing, for it makes the hard work of understanding so much more fulfilling. The author is a talented researcher, but also clearly a gifted writer whose work will be much more accessible for readers by virtue of the care O’Hara has given to his use of language and to ensuring that his explanation and arguments are clear. A Flock Divided examines transition made by Mexicans from social categories assigned to them under colonialism, and in particular by the corporate body of the Church, to that of citizen of a republic, the meaning of which many of them would fail to understand well into the 19th century. It was an uneven and often incomplete process that dragged on well into the middle of the century but in so many ways has continued to this day. It is interesting how the quality of Mexican citizenship now – and that of the citizenship of so many countries divided by caste and race under powerful, aristocratic hierarchies that benefited so much from their Faustian pact with the Church – remains delimited in subtle ways by the institutional legacies of the colonial era. O’Hara gives us a valuable insight into the complex mosaic of change and continuity that fuelled the politics of a turbulent era. – GO’T

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