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Spreading the nation: nationalist symbolism on the Mexican Bicentennial postage stamps

Henio Hoyo
Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM)
Henio Hoyo
Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM)
Open Panel

Abstract

In 2010 Mexico celebrated its Bicentennial. An enormous official promotion lead to large festivals and multimedia performances, itinerant expositions, artworks, a myriad of smaller activities and the first public display in decades of the bodily remains of the Mexican independence heroes. Public attention was further heightened because coincidentally 2010 marked 100 years of the Mexican revolution as well, and 10 years of the 2000 transition to democracy. Therefore, Mexico 2010 will be remembered through the plethora of officially planned & designed symbols, also including items such as commemorative banknotes and stamps. Precisely, my paper will analyze the 2007-2010 postage stamps issued to commemorate the Mexican Bicentennial. They are ideal means to study the influence of politics and ideology on art: not only because some are real artworks, but they are almost the only symbol meant to travel beyond the borders of the state. Therefore, it can be presumed that stamps, as “Portraits of the nation” (Schwarzenbach) are (even more) subjected to political considerations in their design, that those made for “internal” consumption only. Mi paper will focus not just on the product (stamp themselves) but also on its design process, searching for the political/institutional actors involved. My sources are stamps, internal documents, archival materials and a series of interviews with public servants performed in the Main Post Office of Mexico City in November-December 2010. This is part of my ongoing PhD research, which focus on stamps as carriers of national imaginaries.