Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Earth & Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Juliana Maantay

Committee Members

Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Monica Varsanyi

Don Mitchell

Subject Categories

Human Geography

Keywords

Mexican Revolution, Railroads, Labor, Francisco I. Madero, Northern Division

Abstract

This dissertation is a historical geography of the role of railroads and railroad workers in the Mexican Revolution. It shows that despite the presence of railroads in the popular imagination of the Mexican Revolution, the role of railroads and railroad workers themselves remains largely missing from scholarly accounts of the conflict. I argue that railroad workers were central to the revolutionary process from its beginning, and I demonstrate that their close relationship to a critically important transportation network allowed them to intervene at crucial moments of the revolutionary process. Undoubtedly, this relationship to transportation networks also had a formative impact on their political involvement and their relationship to the revolution. I contend that during the revolutionary process, revolutionaries and railroad workers took advantage of the capacity for time-space compression and time-space expansion in order to achieve their aims. Workers and revolutionaries also mobilized these capacities to engage in multi-scalar struggles against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz to contend for power in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In the process, the railroad is transformed from a means of accumulation to a means of liberation by becoming a vehicle for revolutionary social change.

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