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Mexico: Past and Present

Filmmaker Natalia Almada spoke with three of Mexico's leading intellectuals about the landscape of Mexican history and how it has shaped the present.

The Experts

Carmen Boullosa
El General: Carmen BoullosaCarmen Boullosa has published novels, including They’re Cows, We’re Pigs; Leaving Tabasco; and Cleopatra Dismounts, as well as poetry collections (La salvaja, La delirios, La bebida and Salto de mantarraya y otros dos; some of her poems are available in English translation in anthologies such as Reversible Monuments). Her novels have been translated into seven languages. She has received the Xavier Villaurrutia Award and the Anna Seghers and Liberatur prizes. She has been both a Guggenheim, and a Cullman Fellow. She’s now distinguished lecturer at the City College of New York and divides her time between Brooklyn and Mexico. She hosts the television show Nueva York, which has won three New York Emmy® Awards. More information is available on her website,

Cuauhtémoc Medina
El General: Cuauhtémoc Medina Cuauhtémoc Medina is an art critic, curator and historian. He holds a Ph.D. in history and theory of art from the University of Essex in Britain and a bachelor’s degree in history from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. Since 1992, he has been a full time researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico; he has also taught at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. From 2002 to 2008 he was the first associate curator of Latin American art collections at the Tate Modern in London. His recent publications include “Hacia una nueva anarquitectura” in Tercerunquinto. Investiduras institucionales; “La oscilación entre el mito y la crítica. Octavio Paz entre Duchamp y Tamayo” in Materia y sentido. El arte mexicano en la Mirada de Octavio Paz; and “Entries” (with Francis Alÿs) in Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception. He also directed the Seventh International Symposium on Contemporary Art Theory and writes the fortnightly art criticism column “Ojo Breve” for Reforma newspaper in Mexico City.

Jean Meyer
El General: Jean Meyer Jean Meyer is a professor of History at the CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas) in Mexico City. His publications include: The Cristero Rebellion: The Mexican People between Church and State 1926-1929, La Cristiada, and numerous articles about the Mexican Revolution. Meyer obtained his bachelors and masters degrees at the Sorbonne University in Paris. He founded the Institute of Mexican Studies at Perpignan University, France.

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For seven years General Plutarco Elías Calles has loomed indestructible in the Mexican picture, like a Toltec pyramid — huge, harsh, mysterious. His name adds naturally to the list of dictatorial gladiators that the world watches with mixed feelings. . . . He has been called a Mexican Mussolini, an Indian von Hindenburg, a Latin American Lenin.”

— Anita Brenner,
The New York Times, 1937

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