About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Not-so-fresh Prince Continues UC Tour

The University of California system is a great thing - particularly for the ruling families of Mexico. Like UC San Diego that played host to "visiting scholar" for the UC-MEX/US program (drumroll) Raul Salinas, another dinosaur is making his way through the UC system - Cuauhtemoc Cardenas (though I don't think this one is getting 20K from Telmex). In 2007 Cardenas was a visiting scholar in the history department at UC Santa Barbara (swanky) where he angered to no end Mexican leftists and nationalist chicanos who gathered to hear a stirring endorsement of AMLO and instead heard el caudillo brushed aside.

Now El Principe is a visiting scholar in Geography (???) at UC Berkeley teaching a course on "The Promise and Legacy of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-2010." He's scheduled to be in UC San Diego in May.

I like exposing students to people that we learn about in history. In a case like CC there is a lot of romance associated with him which tends to melt away ten or fifteen minutes into his presentations - a thing which I think is healthy intellectually. On the other hand, there isn't a whole lot "new" that Cardenas can present to a class that a far more exciting reading of 20 or 30 pages couldn't accomplish, and I wonder if this isn't more of the persistence of romance on the part of academics in the UC system that keep bringing him back instead of his real educational value. I was teaching modern Mexico at UC Santa Barbara the quarter he was there - and the students really didn't respond to him at all. Is there a value to these "high profile" (and high cost) targets beyond puffing up a University CV?

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