History and Latin America

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Creating Mexican Consumer Culture in the Age of Porfirio Díaz

Steven B. Bunker

Winner of the 2013 Thomas McGann Award from the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies

Winner of the LASA Mexico 2013 Humanities Book Award

In Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, a character articulates the fascination goods, technology, and modernity held for many Latin Americans in the early twentieth century when he declares that “incredible things are happening in this world.” The modernity he marvels over is the new availability of cheap and useful goods. Steven Bunker’s study shows how goods and consumption embodied modernity in the time of Porfirio Díaz, how they provided proof to Mexicans that “incredible things are happening in this world.”

In urban areas, and especially Mexico City, being a consumer increasingly defined what it meant to be Mexican. In an effort to reconstruct everyday life in Porfirian Mexico, Bunker surveys the institutions and discourses of consumption and explores how individuals and groups used the goods, practices, and spaces of urban consumer culture to construct meaning and identities in the rapidly evolving social and physical landscape of the capital city and beyond. Through case studies of tobacco marketing, department stores, advertising, shoplifting, and a famous jewelry robbery and homicide, he provides a colorful walking tour of daily life in Porfirian Mexico City. Emphasizing the widespread participation in this consumer culture, Bunker’s work overturns conventional wisdom that only the middle and upper classes participated in this culture.


Steven B. Bunker is an associate professor of history at the University of Alabama.


“An important first study of modern consumer society in Porfirian Mexico.”


The Americas

“Lively and informative. . . . The book effectively shows that advertisements and novel goods were central to notions of progress and, accordingly, to the transformation of Mexico.”


The American Historical Review

“Steven B. Bunker’s fascinating study of Mexico City at the turn of the twentieth century brings a fresh perspective to the notion that the capital served as a prime showcase for new goods, services, and ideas.”


Western Historical Quarterly

“Mexican cultural history and our comprehension of Mexico during the regime of Porfirio Díaz deepens with this . . . analysis of the relationship between consumer culture and the making of Mexican modernity.”


The Historian

6 x 9 in. 348 pages 20 halftones, 2 tables