The 1968 Tlatelolco massacre has long stood as postrevolutionary Mexico’s “watershed” moment that broke the Partido Revolucionario Institucional’s ideological hold and solidified democratic opposition to its rule. This thesis explores a public debate about youth during the period of 1940-1972 that complicates this conclusion. It examines how conservatives used this debate to articulate their politics, often in opposition to the regime’s modernization project. Subsequently, it argues that their language of delinquency unintentionally engendered and politicized youths by the 1960s, while excluding their voices from any meaningful debate. Consequently, rhetorical violence escalated to physical violence in 1968. After Tlatelolco, the thesis argues that conservatives moved towards a depoliticizing narrative of pathology and addiction that recast youth as mentally ill. Finally, it reconsiders the legacy of 1968 by suggesting a link between this pathologizing language and the emergence of a mainstream conservative movement in contemporary Mexican politics.
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Thesis advisor: Dawson, Alexander
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