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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY (oxfordre.com/latinamericanhistory). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 16 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

Foreign travelers arrived in large numbers in Mexico, especially after Mexican War of Independence, to see the country and access its commercial potential. Each of them talked about the Valley of Mexico, its richness and human diversity. The way these travelers wrote about their “gazes” over this valley—in particular Fanny Calderón de la Barca—is key to understanding the politics of their trips. After their initial viewing, foreign travelers described the Mexican social and political situation as ripe for exploitation and improvement. Despite the fact that these travel accounts consider only an arbitrary section of the Mexican reality, affected by the bias and life history of each writer, they offer valuable material in their portrayal of Mexican society at that time. Hernán Cortés and Alexander von Humboldt’s views of the Mexican Valley were highly influential for the subsequent foreign travelers who went to Mexico during the 19th century, mainly from the United Kingdom, central Europe, and the United States. The work of Fanny Calderón de la Barca, and her gaze as it falls upon the Valley of Mexico, reflect the politics of mid-19th-century Mexico.

Keywords: travel writing, Fanny Calderón de la Barca, Mexico, imperial gaze, mapping, Cortés, Humboldt, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Valley of Mexico, 19th century

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