— M.A., Latin American History, University of New Mexico
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My dissertation, "Victory on Earth or in Heaven: Religion, Reform, and Rebellion in Michoacán, Mexico, 1869-1877," examines the origins, development, and trajectory of the "Religionero" rebellion, an important but poorly understood Catholic revolt that engulfed Mexico's center-west between 1873 and 1877. Focusing on the state of Michoacán, which endured the most intense fighting of the conflict, the project demonstrates how mobilized rural Catholics helped to derail the liberal state's ambitious secularization project, paving the way for a more conciliatory form of politics.
Beyond reconstructing the events of the revolt, however, the project also breaks new ground in the study of Mexican Catholicism, since it asks how changes in religious culture and devotional practice shaped the revolt at the local level. Employing newly-accessible diocesan records and parish correspondence, the dissertation reveals the contours of the Mexican hierarchy’s broad reform program of the 1860s and 1870s, and it traces the often-conflictual “uptake” of this internal reformism among ordinary Catholics in the rural parishes of Michoacán. Such an approach illuminates the spiritual stakes of the conflict and the role of religious change in the development of the revolt. Three local case studies, based on unique district- and parish-level documentation, demonstrate how various religious and extra-religious factors came together to produce different styles of local mobilization.