José Vasconcelos, Mexico’s revolutionary minister of public education, was determined to create a new national identity in which the hybrid Spanish and indigenous biology and culture that had created what he called “the Cosmic Race” was valued. His educational missions, especially in the countryside, taught Spanish, literacy and music to the largely indigenous peoples. Many anthropologists opposed the policy, believing it destroyed indigenous cultures. In the end, his educational policies created a popular folklore that is still captured on widely-distributed calendars.
William Beezley is a professor of History at the University of Arizona with a focus on the revolutionary period and popular culture.