The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Graber relates an eventful story about the war, Reconstruction, and
business conditions in the late nineteenth-century South, but the book
suffers from the effects of the author's failing memory. Fortunately,
Thomas W. Cutrer elucidates an often disjointed and inconsistent nar-
rative with his fine summary introduction.
Texas Christian University ROBERT MABERRY, JR.
Judas at the Jockey Club and Other Epzsodes of Porfirian Mexico. By Wil-
liam H. Beezley. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.
Pp. x+ x81. Preface, introduction, illustrations, afterword, notes,
bibliography, index. $19.95.)
Judas at the Jockey Club offers three related essays dealing with aspects
of elite and popular culture in Mexico during the Porfirian era (1876-
1910). The basic idea is excellent and original: by focusing on some ne-
glected historical themes-the burning of "Judases" on Easter Satur-
day, the introduction of modern sports into Mexico, daily cooking and
farming practices-the author tries to illustrate what he sees as a fun-
damental division between traditional, popular, Mexican culture and
elite, modern, xenophile culture. Where the "traditional" plebeians
burn and batter Judas effigies, the "modern" middle and upper classes
are pedaling their new bicycles-or, in the shape of the authorities, try-
ing to eliminate the backward, rowdy, Judas burnings. What we have,
William H. Beezley persuasively argues, is another hitherto neglected
but important theme within the old story of Porfirian modernization
and popular recalcitrance. We also have, of course, many parallels with
other societies, in which popular rituals and festivals-such as Euro-
pean charivari-involved social symbolism, satire, and protest (as Beez-
ley shows). In making the argument, the author serves up a smorgas-
bord of valuable original data, sharp insights, grand generalizations,
and comparative references that range from the perceptive to the
pretentious.
The weaknesses derive from the novelty and ambition of the task.
Interpreting popular symbols is no easy thing, especially for historians,
who-unlike anthropologists-lack firsthand experience of the subject
and cover a sweep of time and place. Beezley's symbolic decipherings
(of bicycles, butter, sausages) are rarely boring and often ingenious, but
they sometimes amuse and intrigue more than they convince. The
comparative anthropological/historical references-sometimes of a
throwaway kind-do not always strengthen the argument (though they
make for a good read); some (e.g., the application of Emmanuel Le Roy

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed September 15, 2014.