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Making Mexico: Legal Nationality, Chinese Race, and the 1930 Population Census


“Take the census; make the country. Let's do both together!” “Hacer censos, es hacer Patria. Ayúdenos a hacerlos” cajoled one bold, bright poster in the days before May 15, 1930 when census takers dispersed across Mexico to count its inhabitants. Other placards similarly played on multiple meanings for the verb “hacer”—to make or to do: “Taking a census will make the country …” “Hagamos censos y haremos patria…” At the same time, within that collective nation-building, a census jingle affirmed individual importance: “A census is a count. He who is numbered, counts. And he who counts, succeeds.” “Un censo es una cuenta. El que censa, cuenta. Y el que cuenta, acierta.” In government propaganda, the 1930 census made Mexico and drew its inhabitants into the national fold, an ongoing, delicate project after the fratricide of the 1910 Revolution.

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Ariela Gross , “Beyond Black and White: Cultural Approaches to Race and Slavery,” Columbia Law Review 101 (2001): 640–90

Kitty Calavita , “The Paradoxes of Race, Class, Identity, and ‘Passing’: Enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Acts, 1882–1910,” Law and Social Inquiry 25 (2000): 136

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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