Fresh Views on the Old Past: The Postage Stamps of the Mexican Bicentennial


  • Henio Hoyo

    1. European University Institute
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    • Henio Hoyo is a Ph.D. candidate in Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute of Florence, Italy. He holds an M.A. in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University of Budapest, Hungary. His research focuses on the diffusion of national imaginaries, the use of nationalist arguments in political competition, nationalist propaganda, and Latin American nationalisms. The author would like to thank Rainer Bauböck, Jon Fox, Umut Özkirimli, Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper, as well as to my brother, José Luis Hoyo, for giving me access to his private stamp collection and to the personnel at Correos de México for their kind support, advice, and permission for the reproduction of the stamps shown.


The year 2010 in Mexico marked both the 200th anniversary of the start of its independence movement and the 100th anniversary of its revolution. Besides several public events, a number of items including commemorative coins, banknotes, and stamps were produced to mark the occasion. This article analyses the postage stamps issued to commemorate the Mexican bicentennial. It does so by comparing these stamps with the ones issued for previous independence anniversaries, and then tracking changes and continuities in their messages. It is found that, on the one hand, the bicentennial postage stamps of Mexico promoted a particular narrative regarding the historical, territorial, and ethnic features of the Mexican independence process, which in many ways departs from previous, long-established nationalist narratives. But on the other hand, bicentennial stamps also demonstrate the influence of traditional interpretations of the national past – particularly those related to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional's (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI) revolutionary nationalism doctrine – which are still being reproduced even after the 2000 democratic transition.