This article is a case study of the vision of Mexican history, identity, and culture that won the 1968 Summer Olympic Games for Mexico City. The Mexican elites’ portrayal of Mexico as a modern, cosmopolitan nation contributing to emerging global institutions and ideals in the postcolonial era ensured the bid's success. The article's core is a close reading of the official bid and bidding process. This analysis is supplemented and sharpened by contrasting it with alternative visions of Mexican nationalism and the competing Buenos Aires bid. Guided by symbolic interactionism and theories of cultural politics, the study highlights the unique status of Mexico and Latin America in the Olympic Movement, reminds us of the role of the International Olympic Committee in constructing global order in the Cold War era, and shows the value of studying alternative and unsuccessful visions of nationalism, modernity, and global cosmopolitanism.

On October 18, 1963, in Baden-Baden, Germany, Mexico City won the right to host the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, becoming the first-ever non-Western, “developing” nation to secure an Olympic bid.1 The winning bid positioned Mexico as a modern, cosmopolitan nation and champion of Latin America and the developing world more generally.2 Hosting the world's preeminent athletic spectacle promised to leave an indelible mark on the landscape of mega international sporting events as well as on emerging global (and regional) moral norms, social relations, and political institutions. In the article that follows, we offer a close reading and analysis—based upon original archival data, bolstered by comparisons to other competing narratives of Mexican nationalism and the Olympic bid of its chief competitor Buenos Aires—of the official Mexican bid and Olympic bidding process to better frame and assess the social, cultural, and political significance of the Mexico City Olympic Games.

We focus on the bid—and more specifically on the cultural politics embedded in and around the bid—because the bidding process offers a unique, idealized vision of Mexican history and culture prepared for an explicitly modern and cosmopolitan audience. Analyzing the official presentation, and setting it in an international and historical context, allows for a better understanding of what was unique about the Mexican bid. It also highlights the struggles of Mexican national culture, identity, and history playing out in the country itself during this era. Indeed, Mexican elites strategically used what sociologists refer to as “the presentation of self” or “impression management” to present Mexico to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the world with a distinct and compelling narrative of identity, culture, and political stability.3

Once establishing the presentation of national identity and culture via the bid, we then strengthen and support our analysis by examining alternative visions of Mexican nationalism and the competing bid from Bueno Aires.4 Our overarching argument, then, is that the bid was successful because Mexican leaders were able to successfully portray Mexico to the leaders of the IOC as a rising modern, cosmopolitan nation that would contribute to emerging global institutions and ideals in the postcolonial era. It was also a presentation that allowed Mexico to distinguish itself from other Latin American nations in the Olympic Movement.

This case study builds from theories of the cultural politics of sport, specifically those in dialogue with Gramscian-inflected theories of sport as “contested terrain.”5 This article offers several distinct contributions: (1) an understanding of the IOC as an institution promoting and legitimating modern capitalistic cosmopolitan views of the world in the middle of the Cold War; (2) a focus on the role of Mexico and Latin America in the Olympic Movement; and (3) lessons derived from focusing on alternative, potentially competing visions of nationalism, modernity, and global cosmopolitanism.

Methods, Data, and Design

While much research focuses on the various material reasons for hosting “mega” sporting events such as the Summer Olympic Games, the importance of the political, cultural, and symbolic benefits of hosting are substantial and remain crucial for revealing other, more cultural interests and processes.6 In the case of Mexico, leaders and elites believed that hosting the Games would be a platform for promoting nationalism and culture while simultaneously reaping the benefits of global exposure and potential newfound international relations. They had similar grand conceptions of the value of participating in a leading role in the Olympic Movement writ large, the network of Olympic members such as the IOC and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the cosmopolitan ideals codified in the Olympic Charter, and the values of Olympism. In the volume Olimpismo, for example, Sotomayor and Torres discuss how the Olympic Movement in all its different manifestations contributed to the making of Latin America as it helped foster national identity, promote nationalism, and create a framework in which these developing nations dialogued with the rest of the world. The Olympic bid and bidding process provide a great empirical point of entry to better understand and theorize the cultural-political aspects of hosting the Olympic Games because it crystallizes and reveals all of the cultural interests, ideas, and motivations of Mexican elite presentations of the nation.7

It is important to note that the Olympic bidding process has changed several times throughout modern Olympics history. When Mexico won the right to host the 1968 Games, it completed the early version of the official and now institutionalized Olympic questionnaire and bidding process. The formal questionnaire asks prospective hosts questions about why they should host, the cost of hosting, the number of projected venues, participating sports, sites, questions on infrastructure (i.e., highways, airports, public transportation, lodging), entertainment, marketing, tourist attractions, security capabilities, and projected workforce; a miscellaneous section then allows potential hosts to address any concerns that the IOC may have and to make further a case for the right to host.8 If a bid advances to the final round, then the NOC for that respective nation is given a brief period to present a formal presentation to address any lingering problems or highlight a specific aspect of their bid.

Data Collection and Outline of Analysis

Multiple sources of data were collected, interpreted, and engaged with to understand the global historical significance and the unique geopolitical positioning of Mexico. These sources include: (1) the Mexico City 1968 candidature file, which includes the official winning bid itself; (2) the archival sources of other candidature files—both from earlier games and those that Mexico City was competing with throughout the period (most notably the Buenos Aires bid); (3) the Avery Brundage Collection, which contains IOC documents collected by Brundage who was the IOC president during Mexico's successful bid; (4) scholarship of Mexican history and nationalism across the early to mid-twentieth century; and (5) secondary literature on the Cold War context, the situation with developing nations worldwide and postcolonial movements, and visions of and struggles over Mexican nationalism across the twentieth century.

The analysis begins by situating and establishing the historical contexts of the 1968 Mexico City bid—this includes Mexican history, the dynamics of the Cold War and global modernism, and the unique status of the Olympic Movement and the IOC.9 Secondary literature on Mexico and the IOC's social and historical context were key sources. These include (1) organizational research into how the bid process worked and what Olympic authorities were looking for; (2) understanding the place of Latin America in the Olympic Movement and contrasting it with its chief competitor from Latin America; and (3) situating the bid in the context of mid-twentieth-century, postwar global and national history.

If the Olympic Movement provided the platform for Mexican elites to present Mexico to the world and engage in dialogue with Western developed nations, then the official Olympic bid provided the means by which Mexican authorities were able to “present” or “perform” its identity specifically for the leaders of the IOC, which valued specific visions of modernism and cosmopolitanism. The core of the article, then, is a close reading of the Mexico City bid itself, with a focus on Mexico's presentation of self, especially concerning culture and history, and an eye toward how modernity, global cosmopolitanism, and Mexican nationalism were all portrayed.

This section revolves around documents from the official bid file, such as letters from important Mexican public officials, Mexico's six-step model for Olympic success, official Olympic questionnaire, and Mexico City's official list of venues, and a supplementary section titled “Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit.”10 Specific indicators that guided the direct reading of the bid include explicit discussions of values, beliefs, history, identity, and culture. For modernity, indicators focus on Mexican elites’ interest in wanting the Olympics to demonstrate Mexico's modernity to the West. Of course, modernity for the West is almost exclusively tied to industrialization, infrastructure, architecture, and pacification of everyday life. Indicators for industrialization include mentions of business, economics, and technology, while infrastructure indicators include airports, highways, bridges, public transportation, and quality of public restrooms and parks. Indicators for architecture include aesthetics and quality of buildings, public buildings, and monuments. Indicators for the pacification of everyday life include political stability and low levels of crime.

In conjunction with the bid, the Avery Brundage Collection helped illustrate the cultural work done outside the official candidature file, such as helping identify what IOC authorities wanted and expected from an Olympic host and presenting the bias of Western members toward Mexico. IOC members’ attitudes, understanding of the geopolitics at play by Mexican elites, and the Cold War 1960s history contributed to understanding the social and historical context.

The third and final substantive section of the article examines visions of Mexican nationalism that were not included in the official bid and compares the Mexican bid against that of its chief Latin American competitor, Buenos Aires. In line with Gramscian theories of struggles over and around culture,11 we critically and empirically assess what symbols and visions of nation, culture, and identity are presented and who controls those stories as well as which visions, symbols, and narrative are missing or marginalized. Morgan emphasized that “the only things that get talked about, compared, and criticized in such cultural contexts are what we (meaning “we” Eurocentric observers of the cultural scene) think should get talked about, compared, and repeatedly analyzed.”12 This analysis is based upon secondary literature on Mexico's political-cultural history of the period as well as other research and writing on the Buenos Aires bid.

Social and Historical Contexts

It is necessary to understand the social precursors and historical conditions that fell into place for Mexico City to win the right to host the 1968 Games. Three such contextual factors can be highlighted: (1) early twentieth-century Mexican history; (2) Mexico's early involvement with the Olympic Movement and the IOC (including several unsuccessful initial bids); and (3) the “Cold War” character of mid-twentieth-century global politics.

Mexican National Context

The Mexican Miracle, a significant economic boom in the early to mid-twentieth century, helped reshape the country and allowed Mexican elites to engage in many national projects, such as a national park system, infrastructure projects, and national industry growth.13 These initiatives formed part of a cultural project aimed at instilling national pride and appreciation of Mexican culture within its borders to promote Mexico's international profile.14

Around the same period, general discussion within Mexico took place around nationalism concerning but not exclusive to broader global sentiments of Mexican identity and culture as they pertained to negative stigma and stereotypes stemming from the violent Mexican Revolution of 1910. Issues on Mexican nationalism played out in the public sphere with the Mexican government sending representatives to many World Fairs to learn how to present itself while learning how to modernize.15 Involvement in the Olympic Movement formed part and parcel of this ongoing objective and challenge.

Octavio Paz, Mexico's most celebrated literary mind of the time, wrote extensively on Mexican culture, history, and identity. Specifically, Paz focused on the enigma of being a hybrid culture consisting of Spanish and pre-Columbian civilizations. These mixed identities have created confusion about what Mexico is and have constructed how the West views Mexico as backward.16 As Paz noted: “The European considers Mexico to be a country on the margin of universal history, and everything that is distant from the center of his society strikes him as strange and impenetrable. The peasant-remote, conservative, somewhat archaic in his ways of dressing and speaking, fond of expressing himself in traditional modes and formulas-has always had a certain fascination for the urban man. In every country he represents the most ancient and secret element of society.”17 This passage illustrates how the West viewed Mexico. Addressing and overcoming such sentiments was key to all Mexican encounters with the Olympic Movement and their early and ongoing efforts to win the right to host an Olympic Games in Mexico.

Early Mexican Olympic Bids

The Mexican elites’ initial ambitions to host the Olympic Games dates back to the 1940s and a failed attempt by the Mexican Olympic Committee (MOC) to stage the 1956 Games.18 While the MOC did not win the right to host, their initial bid provided the context and template for future Mexico City bids.

The MOC's failed bid to host the 1956 Games and MOC members’ persistence helped in persuading then IOC president Avery Brundage to host the IOC's 48th annual session in Mexico City in 1953.19 The notion of an IOC meeting in Mexico (and outside of Europe) prompted Brundage to send a letter to the two highest-ranking officials in Mexico, IOC members Marte Gomez and Clark Flores, and advise that European members were skeptical about a meeting outside of Europe. Brundage urged Gomez and Flores to avoid any mishaps as Mexico's honor was at stake.20 In response, Mexico's Olympic officials sent a letter to Brundage and all IOC members about the numerous cultural sites and attractions offered in Mexico City and Mexico, such as the pyramids, Acapulco, and Yucatan, to name a few.21 The strategic use of cultural sites was to help European members better understand Mexican culture in hopes of pushing back against preconceived, stereotypical understandings. Mexico later hosted the II Pan American Games in Mexico City in 1955 and won widespread appreciation for a flawless event. Brundage himself called it “the finest, international sport event ever held in Latin America.”22

Although the 48th IOC session in Mexico City and the Pan American Games were successful, Brundage warned the MOC in a private letter that the 1960 Games would be going to a European city but suggested that Mexico still submit a bid to show continuity.23 The success of the II Pan American Games, coupled with the prior cultural work, the hosting of an IOC session, and two failed bids in 1956 and 1960 helped Mexican officials learn how to present the nation and its bid to host the Games to the IOC.

Global Cold War Context

Amid the Cold War, the understanding of the global and historical context is crucial for understanding Mexico's use of culture, the IOC's motives, tensions between the West and the East that manifested itself repeatedly in Latin American politics, and Latin America's place in the Olympic Movement. Despite presenting an “apolitical” image, the IOC has a long history of making decisions that acknowledge and prioritize global political considerations.24 During the Cold War, global sport was highly politicized as it represented ideological warfare for the Americans and Soviets, with success in the Olympics translated into success for their respective ways of life.25 The political turmoil brewing across the globe in the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Wall, and the Vietnam War made picking a destination for the 1968 Games a complicated issue for the IOC.26

The IOC bought itself time with the 1964 Tokyo Games, as a non-Western, non-communist host eased political tensions. However, growing alternatives to the Olympic Games, such as the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), continued to gain momentum. GANEFO started after Indonesia's suspension by the IOC for refusing, as the host nation, to grant Taiwan and Israel access to the Asian Games of 1962. The GANEFO of 1963 saw fifty-one nations participate, including nearly all nations from the Soviet Bloc and the developing world, a fact that troubled the IOC. The global context of the Cold War allowed Mexican elites and the MOC to position themselves as leaders of the developing world in the Olympic Movement.27

The 1968 Bid: Official Presentation of History, Culture, and Identity

Frequently, social elites and NOCs write Olympic bids in conjunction,28 which was the case with Mexico's 1968 bid.29 Then president López Mateos and Mexican IOC members Clark Flores and Marte Gómez, both of whom had political offices in the Mexican government, led Mexico's bid.30 All three were members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controlled the national government for decades and allied themselves with other social elites to control every fabric of Mexican society.31 These three leaders mirrored the broader sentiments of Mexican elites during the period who were, as Brewster and Brewster put it, “frustrated by the fact that despite the country's economic and social advances, negative stereotypes still dominated foreign perceptions of Mexico and its people.”32

It is also important to note that postrevolutionary Mexican politics operated under presidencialismo, which means that the president and only the president can fix issues and govern the nation.33Presidencialismo gave virtually unlimited power to the president from the masses, and because of this, each president governed with specific guile. For the period of the bidding process for the 1968 games, President López Mateos was at the helm and is best known for his strong cultural policy, which is why the Olympic Games were so important for his presidency.34

General Bid Overview

Traditionally, Olympic bids consisted of letters from the nation's leader, the NOC president, and other important figures. Accompanying these letters is a completed formal IOC questionnaire. Pictures are included in every bid and play an essential role in the bidding process as the IOC can visualize the games in that potential host city.

In section IV of the declaration letter stating Mexico will formally bid for the 1968 Games, López Mateos proclaimed, “That a fortunate concurrence exists between the athletic standards upheld by the IOC and Mexican laws and historic traditions, such as the Mexican people's simple spirit of hospitality.”35 López Mateos's letter marked the first indication that Mexican culture would be touted an excellent reason for hosting the Olympic Games. As with other Latin American nations, Mexicans were often stereotyped for their family-oriented behavior, and the nation was thus seen as perfect for welcoming the world to participate in this global event.

An included document titled “Remarks by the Mexican Olympic Committee” highlighted the MOC's five “all-important” reasons why Mexico City should host the Olympic Games. The opening paragraph highlighted the importance sport plays in Mexico's daily life and how both Mexico and the Olympic Movement would benefit from having Mexico City host:

The great and growing inclination of Mexican youth toward sports, practiced by it in the truest Olympic spirit; the interest in sports programs in private and public circles, thus emphasizing the importance they give to Physical Education in the cultural integration of the people; Mexico City's position, with its ranking abroad as one of the ten most important capitals in the world, due to its modern municipal services, its growing cultural activity and its spirit of a city open to the highest and noblest ideas, would furnish abundant material from which to select many arguments in favor of Mexico City as aspirant to the site of the Games.36

The mention of cultural integration of the people illustrates a larger narrative of using sports to illustrate modernization and to educate the masses on Mexican culture and identity. From the beginning, Mexico used the word “modern” to illustrate its readiness to compete with the global elite and highlight Mexico City's ranking among global capitals. The MOC also illustrated that the capital city is very open in showing its cultural activities while simultaneously willing to adopt alternative cultural activities of global appeal.

Within this document, Mexican officials provided what they suggested were the five all-important reasons to host. Of the five reasons, three match the entirety of the bid's message of connecting culture, economic prosperity, and modernity. The first reason connected Mexico City with modernity through its facilities and architecture. The third reason was that Mexico City would be the first Latin American city to host, with its social and political stability and progressiveness being a successful regional model. While the fourth self-proclaimed reason highlighted the vital role the Olympic Games play in international recognition for a young country, and it would help promote Mexico's legitimacy and recognition as a nation.37 These three reasons, focused on why Mexico City should host the Olympic Games, reflected a desire among Mexican elites to present Mexico as a modern nation, and also allowed the IOC to help postcolonial and developing nations present themselves as modern.

Culture stood at the center of all this. In the Olympic questionnaire, question B asked, what fine arts program do you propose?38 Mexico responded with an extensive fine arts program directly related to Mexico's past and unique culture, such as the Pre-Columbian Indian Art and Popular Handcrafts. The MOC also proposed staging a contest in plastic arts titled “Mexico in Sports.” (Music and dance venues were also mentioned, but all prospective Olympic hosts list such venues.) What is significant about the answer for question B is the way it highlighted special events such as dances by Indigenous groups and Mexican folklore displays in order to provide a sense of Mexican-ness to the fine arts program rather than only providing the traditional high cultural goods that tend to be the norm in Olympic bids.

In a traditional bid, after the official letters and Olympic questionnaire, the remaining pages typically include photos of the city, cultural centers, and sporting venues such as arenas and the proposed Olympic Villages. The Mexico City bid preceded differently, stating, “The final pages include a brief study of Mexico City (from its beginnings to the present day) which deals with the cultural, historical, and social aspects of a modern metropolis, faithful to its ancient spirit” before beginning the photo portion of the bid.39 This paragraph cements the connection between Mexico City and modernism, which means that Mexico is modern; it also highlights the central point that Mexico wants to be a more prominent player in global politics, economics, and culture while keeping true and “faithful” to its identity and way of life. The concluding portion, titled “Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” described Mexico City's history and culture in great depth while also providing the nation's origin story, describing the history of Mexico's Indigenous past, colonial period, and the era from independence to the present.

Presentation of Mexican History and Culture: “Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit”

Pre-Columbian Period

The early portion of this particular section focused on the Indigenous, specifically Aztec, history of Mexico. This first portion operates as much more than mere history; it is a metaphor for present-day Mexico. The land in which Aztec mythology prophesied an Eagle with a snake in its mouth sitting on a cactus in the middle of a lakebed represented Mexico's origin story. The MOC included theories of how Mexico got its name—believed to be known by one of two names, Land of the Maguey or Land of the Flowering Heart—and descriptions of Mexico as harsh and rugged yet still beautiful. Pages filled with the Aztec Empire's history were a metaphor for present-day Mexico making the best of a difficult situation. The history of Aztec suffering leading to a plea toward Cocoxtli, the King of Culhuacan, to allow them to stay in their domain near the lakebed for protection foreshadowed what's to come. Cocoxtli agreed out of pity and gave the Aztecs the most dangerous part of the land, filled with poisonous snakes. The Aztecs, instead of crumbling, persevered by eating the poisonous snakes and cultivating the land.

When Aztec emperor Itzcoatle assumed power in 1426, the Aztecs grew in power as they became the dominant group in the region. As the bid document explained: “During this time the Aztecs had absorbed the knowledge of their predecessors. They assimilated Nahuatl philosophy that had evolved during almost one thousand years in Teotihuacan; they received from the Toltecs the influence of their great art, creating a poetry of surprising beauty, enriching astronomical knowledge with new findings and founding a complicated and powerful religion that reaches into every corner of life.”40 These passages not only described the Aztec journey but also operated as a metaphor for the path of contemporary Mexico. In other words, Mexican elites looked toward the IOC for help and guidance just as the Aztecs once did with Cocoxtli. In contemporary Mexico, Mexican elites were learning lessons from the IOC on education and culture through the teaching of sports and the incorporation of Western sporting ideals in their society.

Toward the end of the first section, the MOC included the role of ancient sports in Aztec culture and all pre-Columbian Mexico societies in which participation in sports formed part of physical exercise, penances, and prayers.41 This passage signaled the cultural role sports have played in Mexico, which meshed well with the IOC's belief that education through physical exercise is beneficial for the advancement of human life.42

Colonial Period

In the next section, a shift from pre-Columbian times to Spain's colonialism illustrated the beginning of present-day Mexico's culture and identity. The fall of Tenotlichan (modern-day Mexico City) was heavily emphasized as a shift in culture and identity but made clear that the spirit of the city and the ancient past lay deep despite Spanish rule, “but a metropolis, representative of a millennial civilization, is not so easily done away with.”43 Once again, specific passages operated as metaphors for present-day Mexican circumstances: victim of colonialism and the global structure of nation-states, Mexico has fallen, but its strong foundation provided stability to rise once again.

Numerous examples of art and architecture illustrated how mixing European styles with ancient architecture acted as a tool for advancing a single identity. This mixing, known as mestizaje in Mexico, played a prominent role during Spanish rule. As an ideology, mestizaje encompasses embracing a hybrid identity composed of Spanish and Indigenous identities to form Mexican identity and culture. The most comprehensive example that the MOC presented was the introduction of Baroque-style architecture to illustrate the harmony between the two cultures to elevate Mexico City to newer heights: “Mexico regains the ancient splendor of the city during the baroque period to become one of the most magnificent cities on earth and the most monumental in the Americas.”44

Mixing referred to much more than cultural goods; it also referred to the mixing of people. “Though the sons of Spaniards, the Creoles felt profound ties with the land in which they were born. Those of mixed blood found it difficult to deny either of the two roots to which they owed their existence.”45 This passage depicted mestizaje and early signs of nationalism, which helped further solidify Mexican identity and culture.

These references to early notions of nationalism were a way to solidify using the Olympic Games to present Mexican identity and culture as modern and progressive. The MOC asserted that the introduction of the encyclopedia helped spread the notions and ideals of the French Revolution or, as the MOC called it, “the light of reason,” and helped create man's desire to “participate in the formation of its own world.”46 By referencing how the neoclassical period influenced colonial thinking, the MOC demonstrated the modern forms of thought and polity since the nation's birth. European political thought influenced the thinkers who would spearhead the independence movement known as the Libertadores, the liberators.

Mexican Independence

The final part of “Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit” described the period of independence and the present day. This section focused heavily on the independence movement in forming the nation of Mexico, which included attributes from the nation's Indigenous past and Western influence. This portion started with the famous “Grito” of 1810, the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence, which culminated with independence from Spain. “Mexico ceases to be New Spain and reverts to its original name, Mexico. A Mexico quite different from what it had been before the Conquest—with a new language, religion, and customs—but faithful to its old spirit.”47 This passage demonstrated the evolution of Mexico City and signaled that, regardless of the severity of the change, Mexico's Indigenous past is forever present.

After independence, change was rapid and dramatic in the young nation, and the MOC was not shy in highlighting the change. The annexing of Northern Mexico by the United States and the inclusion of French, Italian, and Spanish cultural customs transplanted in Mexico City and the rest of the nation through a Mexican elite primarily educated in Paris, played a substantial role. Despite these early changes and the introduction of foreign cultural customs by Mexico's elite, the MOC included early Mexican thinker Jose Guadalupe Posada, who criticized European customs entering Mexico and, with his artwork, carried the voice of the masses. Posada's inclusion by the MOC is fascinating because it demonstrated both Mexico's acceptance of foreign influence and its ability to create its own path; this was the PRI's vision of sanitized and subdued expressions of resistance to the establishment.48 After all, the PRI presented Mexico as modern in the Western sense yet praised Posada and his art for pushing back against foreign culture to promote national forms of affirmation.

One of the unique aspects of the final section was the discussion of how Mexican culture contributes to global culture. A prime example is a MOC discussion of mural painting: “From a cultural standpoint, mural painting is a vigorous product of the Revolution and, as such, the most definite and concrete contribution of our age to a Mexican art that enjoys a tradition of over two thousand years.”49 Murals stemming from the Mexican Revolution in the early twentieth century, and wall art of the Aztecs that dates to two thousand years in the past can be found on public buildings, government buildings, schools, and other public places. Mural painting thus represented how Mexican culture was unique while also global.

Toward the end of the bid, there is a strong emphasis on how architecture was a tool for modernization in Mexico's unique cultural mode. The MOC argued that modernization through architecture reflected Mexico's global understanding of modern architecture and reflected its Indigenous past. “And curiously enough, the more the city is modernized, the more it approaches in essence that which it had been before, in its age of splendor, when the two names—Mexico-Tenochtitlan—went hand in hand.”50 The following quote illustrated the goal succinctly, exemplifying Mexico's claim to be modern but in their way: “Mexico's architecture is as modern as any in the world, but now it is no longer a copy, as before, of French architecture: it is an architecture that corresponds to our age in any advanced country in the world. It is universal, without being cosmopolitan.”51 The inclusion of modern architecture with connections to the nation's past is an attempt to rid Mexico of colonization's lasting legacy.

Other examples further illustrate how modern feats of architecture, specifically in sporting facilities, kept the traditions of Mexico alive while reinforcing modern Mexican culture and identity. “Mexico City today can be proud of the many buildings and sports facilities of its command, that continue to maintain past traditions that gave such an importance to sports that they actually formed a part of Mexico's culture, as well as religion. . . . The University City Stadium is an architectural masterpiece with its crater-like form that resembles the surrounding volcanoes. . . . The Aztec Stadium, soon to be terminated, is fulfilling the needs of the traditionally sports minded Mexican people.”52 These passages used the word “modern” to connect sports to Mexico's long-standing tradition of culture, identity, and religion. Connecting sport and modernity helped illustrate how sport played a role in that process, especially with its struggles of colonization.

The final page and closing remarks of the document once again emphasized and connected the long journey of struggles that Mexico has endured over its history, the countless changes, the rediscovery of its ancient glory, and anecdotes of global advancement and modernity in the present day,

Although it is a modern city, Mexico witnesses daily the discovery of testimonials to its past glory. Frequently, on excavating locations for new buildings, clay figurines, statues, or urns—modeled or sculptured many centuries or millenniums ago—are uncovered. . . . A city born into the heart of drama, Mexico has remained faithful to is spirit, in the past, living between fire and water: the water of the lagoon and the fire of its internal passion. . . . Now, in the struggle of a people that advances toward progress without denying its ancient heritage, it adds a new measure to the yardstick of time, with each passing day.53

“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit” discusses the modernization of Mexico throughout its history, stressing that although the process has not been without struggle, Mexico has always been faithful to its spirit and thus a beacon for Latin American, the Olympic Movement, and the global world.

Alternative or Missing Narratives

The official MOC narrative, described above, framed the bid that won Mexico the right to host the 1968 Olympic Games. However, it represented a very particular vision of Mexican history, culture, and identity, explicitly tailored to the IOC and its vision of nations, modernity, Latin America, and globalism. In this context, it is interesting to note the stories and dimensions of Mexican national culture, politics, and history that were minimized or left out—notably, cultures and histories of Mexico's rural mixed-race peoples and sporting traditions; its working-class movements; and the massive student demonstrations and protests that preceded the Games. A closer, critical analysis of these missing narratives helps us better understand the image of a modern, cosmopolitan Mexico that elites were attempting to implement via the Games, signaling the power of presentation and the politics of culture.

Co-opting Mestizaje

As mentioned earlier, the idea of mestizaje formed part of the strategic process of representation. In Mexico, mestizaje is extremely important to Mexican identity as it was the nation that spearheaded this racial formation in early Latin American nation-building to promote racial democracy and racial fraternity.54 The reason for the inclusion of mestizaje is that the PRI was always a proponent of Mexico's Indigenous past.55 However, this support did not translate to the admiration of day-to-day cultural practices and customs but rather the image of a strong warrior race with an illustrious civilization that matched Europe's great empires and city-states.

In the bid, in other words, this concept was co-opted to highlight more of the Spanish culture and Indigenous past.

Hiding Rural Identity

Rural mythologies embedded in Mexico's social psyche were also missing from the official Mexican Olympic narrative. This absence of rural narratives is striking because rural life in Mexico contributed significantly to its history, identity, and culture. In Mexico, peasants and Indigenous workers “helped fuel the discussion of nationalist identity around core issues of organizing society such as land distribution and social justice.”56 Also crucial—and lost—here is that these rural nationalist movements were largely composed of people from the lower classes whose own visions of and experiences in Mexico contrasted sharply with the Mexican elites’ vision of the nation as presented in the bid.

Rural Mexico has provided many cultural goods that operate as vessels for Mexican nationalism and identity. For example, the image of the ranchero, a Mexican cowboy, pays homage to Mexico's agrarian heritage; mariachi and rancheras, which are popular folk music developed in rural Mexico; and the agave plant of rural Mexico, which produces tequila and mezcal, two of Mexico's national liquors.57 These examples of cultural artifacts hold considerable weight in Mexico's national identity and culture. Rural Mexico was also connected to the mass participation in such sports as riding, bullfighting, shooting, or cockfighting in which the ranchero is heavily present.58 Nevertheless, Mexican elites tried to silence rural narratives and refused to include them in their broader portrayal of Mexico to the rest of the world.59 Before hosting the Olympic Games, Mexican elites even launched a massive media campaign to teach the masses of Mexico “‘how to establish a sense of national responsibility’” because many Mexicans enjoy heavy drinking while participating in rural sports.60 But if we think critically, it is necessary to discuss these rural narratives. After all, they have contributed significantly to the image of Mexico not just culturally but also economically. A major portion of Mexico's economic growth was in its rural and agricultural sector, growth that directly contributed to Mexico's financial stability and allowed the nation to modernize industrially.

Shadowed Leftist Image

Leftist groups portrayed Mexico not as modern in the European sense, as the MOC made an effort to do, but rather as a nation of hard-working people who share a collective bond. Leftist groups expressed notions of Mexico not as a capitalist machine but rather as a nation that operated on its sense of community and heritage by highlighting one of many nationalized industries, national parks, and large agricultural industries. Most importantly, Mexico's leftist groups aligned themselves much more with Mexico's lower and working classes than the social elite, who often did not participate in Mexican cultural customs.61

Although Latin American nations historically welcomed US involvement, these geopolitical interactions were also complicated by the fact that the US always insisted that leftist ideologies and interventions would not be tolerated. Of course, there were exceptions, such as Cuba, who later suffered the consequences of an embargo.62 Highlighting missing leftist narratives is important to understand the known aftermath of troubled preparation leading up to the games, documented by state violence and oppression of leftist voices. With leftist groups silenced for speaking out against the PRI, these notions of Mexican national identity, culture, and history rarely manifested throughout the Olympic bid.63

Comparison of Other and Competing Bids

Comparing Olympics bids before 1968 and competing bids from 1968 helps us more fully understand the uniqueness of the Mexico City bid and the presentation of self. Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960, and Tokyo 1964 were the official host bids the MOC used as a template for their bid; while Detroit (USA), Lyon (France), and Buenos Aires (Argentina), were the competing 1968 bids.

It has been noted that in the eyes of modern Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin, the Games were internationalist but never cosmopolitan focused, yet after the World Wars, cosmopolitanism dominated the IOC.64 Global cosmopolitanism was intrinsically intertwined with Western notions of modernity, and this played out in the Olympic host cities of the post–World War II era. The successful winning bids of Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960, and Tokyo 1964 never discussed national culture outside the Olympic questionnaire and heavily focused on the number of music halls, dance halls, art forums, museums, and restaurants that cities provided, along with a strong focus on infrastructure and sport facilities. This trend did not change for the other potential bids of 1968, with Detroit, Lyon, and Buenos Aires doing the same. In understanding the impact of the GANEFO games and in order to better understand the Mexico City winning bid, Buenos Aires becomes a key point of comparison. Buenos Aires was the true Latin American competitor of or alternative to Mexico City as a host, so therefore a comparison of the two bids helps reveal and specify what was unique about the Mexican bid and thus helps account for its success.

Latin American Friction with Buenos Aires

The IOC began considering developing nations as potential hosts for the Olympic spectacle in response to its fears of the long-term effects of the success of the GANEFO. Thus, the 1968 Games provided a unique opportunity for Buenos Aires and Mexico City.65 The Buenos Aires bid was a worthy and serious competitor to that of Mexico's, highlighted by the Argentinean Olympic Committee's recounting of Argentine Olympic history and its description of the many amenities that Buenos Aires had to offer.66 Their actual bid focused heavily on Buenos Aires itself and, as such, throws into relief what was unique and compelling about the Mexican bid.

In a nutshell, the Buenos Aires bid centered heavily on the city itself and did not connect with Argentinean culture and identity as a whole. The Buenos Aires bid also failed to connect to broader Latin American identity outside the Olympic context, more regional Latin American culture and its role (or potential role) within the Olympic context. In contrast, the Mexican bid made connections to Latin America outside of the Olympic context and provided broader information on Mexican identity and culture. These connections to broader national culture rather than a localized identity allowed the IOC to consider expanding into the developing world.

The focus on Buenos Aires and a failure to connect to the broader sociocultural community of Latin America, such as its Indigenous and rural ancestry of the gaucho and lifestyles of the Pampas or the Andes, made it difficult for the IOC to find a connection to the developing world, with Buenos Aires historically claiming more European identity than Latin identity.67 In other words, Mexico's bid provided a broader vision of the postcolonial context, providing insights into the preservation of folkloric traditions demonstrating how cohabitation with Western ideas and culture could operate.

Buenos Aires also suffered from the same international stereotypes that Mexico City did: political and economic instability. Previous scholarship has revealed that a major reason Buenos Aires's bid was unsuccessful was its perceived political fragility.68 Argentina had two coups d’état since 1955, but they were minimally violent, and both coups came at interesting points in Argentine history. The first coup was after Perón's initial reign (1946–1955); despite his ability to create huge wealth for the nation, his unique style of leftist populism was not viewed too keenly by many political elites and the military. The second coup occurred during the presidency of Arturo Frondizi (1958–1962), a period marked by mixed results but one that had a vast ideological impact in developmentalism that promoted more traditional Western notions of economics and governance. When the bid of 1968 came around, Argentina democratically had a president elected with 85.6 percent voter turnout, which saw Arturo Illia win and could have provided confidence to the IOC.69

This political turmoil stands in contrast to the situation in Mexico. During this period, Mexico enjoyed political stability through what is called a “perfect dictatorship” in which a single party ruled. Perhaps the Mexican form of governance provided more confidence for the European elites on the IOC, but to believe the Mexican political system was more democratic than Argentina's is a bit far-fetched. Nevertheless, the idea that Mexico was more democratic and, more importantly, more capitalist in the West's eyes is likely what tipped the scale in Mexico City's favor.


This case study of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games bidding process suggests the bid was successful because Mexico was able to portray itself in the way that the IOC wanted, expected, and had the right and power to determine as a rising modern, cosmopolitan nation. Gramscian notions of cultural politics as contested terrain have guided our analysis and discussion of these representations, the struggles, and the outcomes in the bidding process.

“Culture” and struggles over culture and the representation of a nation are a central interpretive concept in this analysis and operate at multiple levels. Both Mexican “material” culture (e.g., art, dance, architecture) and “nonmaterial” culture (e.g., the practices and perspectives of the Mexican people) were in constant struggle during the Mexican elites’ pursuit of the Olympic Games. This tension prompted IOC members to question whether Mexican culture in its entirety was legitimate and worthy.70

The study makes three main contributions. First, it provides further documentation of the IOC's powerful role as an institution promoting and legitimating modern capitalistic and cosmopolitan views of the world in the middle of the Cold War. Second, it highlights the unique status of Latin America in the Olympic Movement and the lengths to which the Mexican Olympic and political officials had to go to present their country, its history, and culture in accordance with IOC expectations and requirements. Third, and perhaps most innovatively, it suggests the need to focus attention not only on the winners but the losers—those whose images were lost or overshadowed from official representations as a means for theorizing the processes by which hegemonic formations are produced and legitimated.

The cultural politics surrounding the 1968 Mexico City Olympic bid highlight the power struggles between Western industrialized nations and everyone else during the period, which is why Mexican elites had to go above and beyond what any potential host had ever done before to assuage and correct Western perceptions of their nation. Cultural politics manifested in the cultural affinity for Mexico's sporting tradition and operated in the power differential of global politics and cultural understanding of developed vs. developing nations, Western nations vs. Latin America, and “modern” vs. “nonmodern” nations. The lack of understanding, devaluation, and negative stereotypes of Latin American culture and identity made it difficult for the countries of Latin America to be taken seriously in the IOC and the Olympic Movement. The biased cultural views held by Western IOC members toward Latin America affected the political power that these nations had in the Olympic Movement. With Mexican leaders understanding the bias toward their nation, leaders enacted a long-term bidding plan to win the right to host the 1968 Games.

This struggle in the cultural sphere impacted how Western IOC members challenged the modernity of Mexico. In the 1960s, modernity was understood as the advancements in life by citizens within nations that adopted Western democracy, capitalism, and technological innovation. In turn, this interpretation prompted critiques by several scholars on the basis that reaching modernity meant becoming more Western.71 Regardless of modernity's meaning, the IOC associated modernity with high culture, infrastructure, and technology. The nations of Latin America bought into this understanding of modernity, which made involvement in the Olympic Movement so compelling as a platform to demonstrate their modernity: “An elite narrative linking modernity with national development meant that Latin American contributions were often framed within parameters set by the developed world.”72 This view of modernity, and its contribution to the cultural politics of the 1968 bid, is crucial to understanding how preconceived notions of Mexico and the nature and location of power within Olympic circles made it difficult for the MOC to win until associating their bid within a more traditional Western-capitalistic context.

Finally, the 1968 bid formed part of a larger grand historical narrative of the era of Cold War politics and the struggles of emerging postcolonial nations therein. Understanding the sociocultural context and the MOC's journey to win the bid is important to contextualizing the political decisions that Mexican elites made in presenting the nation to the Western gatekeeper that was the IOC. If we take Olympic scholar John J. MacAloon's call to not produce “bourgeois thought” seriously, then we need to think more about our methods and the social-cultural context of our data to ensure we do not fall to our reduction of Marxist thought.73 The use of deep cultural analysis and the return of neo-Marxist work such as Hall and Gramsci help us understand the symbols and actors at play and how actors deploy these symbols and stories within specific contexts and power imbalances.

Extending from this, we suggest the need to focus attention not only on the visions of culture and history that carried the day but also on those that were lost or overshadowed by official representations as a means for theorizing the processes by which hegemonic formations are produced and legitimated. Some of the missing narratives in the 1968 bid demonstrated the contested terrain of how culture affects political decision-making. It took years of background information and visits for Europeans to understand and alter their assumptions. This was accompanied by how Mexican elites understood the value of Mexican culture and felt the need to hide and co-opt aspects of Mexican identity for the support of Western IOC members. If this article does anything, it demonstrates the political struggles of postcolonial representation and the contested terrain that accompanies it for postcolonial nations within the realm of the Olympics and international sport.



Ariel Rodríguez Kuri, “Ganar la sede. La política internacional de los juegos Olímpicos de 1968,” Historia Mexicana 64, no. 1 (2014): 243–89.


Kevin B. Witherspoon, Before the Eyes of the World: Mexico and the 1968 Olympic Games (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008).


Claire Brewster and Keith Brewster, “Mexico City 1968: Sombreros and Skyscrapers,” in National Identity and Global Sports Events: Culture, Politics, and Spectacle in the Olympics and the Football World Cup, ed. Alan Tomlinson and Christopher Young (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006), 99–116.


Stuart Hall, “Notes of Deconstructing the ‘Popular,’” in People's History and Socialist Theory, ed. Raphael Samuel (London: Routledge, 1981), 227–40.


Stephen D. Allen, A History of Boxing in Mexico: Masculinity, Modernity, and Nationalism (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2017); Susan Birrell and Mary G. McDonald, Reading Sport: Critical Essays on Power and Representation (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000); Alan Tomlinson and Christopher Young, eds., National Identity and Global Sports Events: Culture, Politics, and Spectacle in the Olympics and the Football World Cup (New York: State University of New York Press, 2006); Ben Carrington, “Merely Identity: Cultural Identity and the Politics of Sport,” Sociology of Sport Journal 24, no. 1 (2007): 49–66; Douglas Hartmann, Race, Culture, and the Revolt of the Black Athlete: The 1968 Olympic Protests and Their Aftermath (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Michael A. Messner, Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992); Lisa Lowe and David Lloyd, eds., The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997); John J. MacAloon, “The Ethnographic Imperative in Comparative Olympic Research,” Sociology of Sport Journal 9, no. 2 (1992): 104–30; Michael Silk, The Cultural Politics of Post-9/11 American Sport: Power, Pedagogy and the Popular (New York: Routledge, 2012).


Brewster and Brewster, “Mexico City 1968,” 99–116; Christopher Kennett and Miquel de Moragas, “Barcelona 1992: Evaluating the Olympic Legacy,” in Tomlinson and Young National Identity and Global Sports Events, 177–96; James F. Larson and Heung-Soo Park, Global Television and the Politics of the Seoul Olympics (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993); Monroe E. Price and Daniel Dayan, Owning the Olympics: Narratives of the New China (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008).


Antonio Sotomayor and Cesar R. Torres, eds., Olimpismo: The Olympic Movement in the Making of Latin America and the Caribbean (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2020), 5.


The Candidature Process Evolution, 2018, pdf, Mexican Candidature File, The Olympic Studies Centre, World Olympic Library.


Eric Zolov, “Showcasing the ‘Land of Tomorrow’: Mexico and the 1968 Olympics,” The Americas 61, no. 2 (2004): 159–88; Eric Zolov, The Last Good Neighbor: Mexico in the Global Sixties (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020).


Mexico City 1968 Official Candidature File, International Olympic Committee, The Olympic Studies Centre, World Olympic Library, https://library.olympics.com/Default/doc/SYRACUSE/26177/mexico-demande-xix-jeux-olympiques-mexico-requests-xix-olympic-games-mexico-solicita-juegos-olimpico.


MacAloon, “Ethnographic Imperative”; William J. Morgan, “Hegemony Theory, Social Domination, and Sport: The MacAloon and Hargreaves-Tomlinson Debate Revisited,” Sociology of Sport Journal 11, no. 3 (1994): 309–29.


MacAloon, “Ethnographic Imperative,” 117; Morgan, “Hegemony Theory,” 310


Rodríguez Kuri, “Ganar la sede.”


Keith Brewster and Claire Brewster, “Olympic Diplomacy and National Redemption in Post-Revolutionary Mexico,” in Sotomayor and Torres, Olimpismo, 53–72.


Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, Mexico at the World's Fairs: Crafting a Modern Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).


Eric Zolov, “The Harmonizing Nation: Mexico and the 1968 Olympics,” in In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century, ed. Amy Bass (New York, NY: Palgrave, 2005), 191–220.


Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude, trans. by L. Kemp, Y. Milos, and R. P. Belash (New York: Grove Press, 1985), 65.


Marte Gomez to Avery Brundage, November 18, 1954, box 59, Avery Brundage Collection, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois (hereafter cited as Brundage Collection).


Witherspoon, Before the Eyes of the World.


Avery Brundage to Marte Gomez and Clark Flores, December 23, 1952, box 149, Brundage Collection.


Marte Gomez and Clark Flores to Avery Brundage and IOC members, February 10, 1953, box 149, Brundage Collection.


Avery Brundage to Manuel Guzman, March 28, 1955, box 149, Brundage Collection.


Avery Brundage to Marte Gomez, November 24, 1954, box 59, Brundage Collection.


Philip A. D'Agati, Nationalism on the World Stage: Cultural Performance at the Olympic Games (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2011).


Robert Edelman and Christopher Young, The Whole World was Watching: Sport in the Cold War (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020); Thomas M. Hunt, “American Sport Policy and the Cultural Cold War,” Journal of Sport History 33, no. 3 (2006): 273–97; Erin Redihan, The Olympics and the Cold War, 1948–1968 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017); Toby Rider, Cold War Games Propaganda, the Olympics, and U.S. Foreign Policy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016).


Fernando Herrera Calderón and Adela Cedillo eds., Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico: Revolutionary Struggles and the Dirty War, 1964–1982 (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2012).


Rodríguez Kuri, “Ganar la sede.”


As stated in the official Olympic Charter in chapter 5, section 1, rule 33 and its bylaws. NOCs pick the host city in their nation, but a city has a higher chance of winning if the local elites support the bid. Eventually, the mayor, other important figures like secretaries of foreign affairs, and the principal members of the respective nations NOC write the bid in conjunction.


International Olympic Committee, Olympic Charter in force as from 17 July 2020 (Lausanne: IOC, 2020), https://stillmed.olympic.org/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/General/EN-Olympic-Charter.pdf.


Brewster and Brewster, “Rank Outsider.”


Calderón and Cedillo, Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico.


Brewster and Brewster, “Rank Outsider.”


Arnaldo Córdova, La formación del poder político en México, 2nd ed. (Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 1972); Daniel Villegas Cósio, El Sistema politico Mexicano: Las posibiliades de cambio: Ensayo (Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1972).


It is documented that Clark Flores and López Mateos had a good relationship which contributed to the successful writing and presentation of the bid as Clark Flores understood the vision of López Mateos. See Roberto B. Carmona, “Biography of Jose de Jesus Clark Flores: “Man of Honor”” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1981).


Lopez Mateos's Declaration Letter, 1963, XVII, Mexican Candidature File, Mexico Olympic Committee, World Olympic Library.


“Remarks by the Mexican Olympic Committee,” 21, Mexican Candidature File, Mexico Olympic Committee, World Olympic Library.


D'Agati, Nationalism on the World Stage.


Olympic Questionnaire, 1963, 27, Mexican Candidature File, Mexico Olympic Committee, World Olympic Library.


“Brief Study of Mexico City,” 57, Mexican Candidature File, Mexico Olympic Committee, World Olympic Library.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 1, 132 Mexican Candidature File, Mexico Olympic Committee, World Olympic Library.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 1, 147.


Allen Guttmann, The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002).


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 2, 152.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 2, 158.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 2, 158.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 2, 162.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 3, 166.


It is documented that Posada openly resisted foreign culture and promoted popular Mexican national identity through his art in depictions of fiestas and death. See Patrick Frank, Posada's Broadsheets: Mexican Popular Imagery, 1890–1910 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998).


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 3, 180.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 3, 190.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 3, 194.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 3, 196.


“Mexico: A Modern City Faithful to Its Spirit,” Part 3, 202.


Nancy P. Appelbaum, Anne S. Macpherson, and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, “Racial Nation,” in Race and Nation in Modern Latin America, ed. Nancy P. Appelbaum, Anne S. Macpherson, and Karla Alejandra Rosemblatt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 1–31.


Brian Hamnett, A Concise History of Mexico (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).


Florencia E. Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 5.


Esteban Barragán López, Con un Pie en el Estribo: Formación y Deslizamientos de las Sociedades Rancheras en la Construcción del México Moderno (Zamora, Mexico: Colegio de Michoacán, 1997); Marcia Farr, Rancheros in Chicagoacán: Language and Identity in a Transnational Community (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006).


Witherspoon, Before the Eyes of the World, 18; Barragán López, “Con un Pie en el Estribo.


Brewster and Brewster, “Mexico City 1968.”


Brewster and Brewster, “Mexico City 1968,” 110.


Brewster and Brewster, “Mexico City 1968”; Calderón and Cedillo, Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico; Witherspoon, Before the Eyes of the World; Zolov, “Showcasing the ‘Land of Tomorrow.’”


Calderón and Cedillo, Challenging Authoritarianism in Mexico; Richard L. Harris, “Marxism and the Transition to Socialism in Latin America,” Latin American Perspectives 15, no. 1 (1988): 7–53.


Mexican officials did not tolerate leftist voices, and tensions built for years, culminating in an estimated 500 student murders at Tlatelolco plaza ten days before the start of the Olympic Games during a massive student protest.


Guttmann, Olympics.


Rodríguez Kuri, “Ganar la sede.”


Cesar R. Torres, “Stymied Expectations: Buenos Aires’ Persistent Efforts to Host Olympic Games,” Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies 16 (2007): 43–76.


Pablo Alabarces and Maria Graciela Rodriguez, “Football and Fatherland: The Crisis of National Representation of Argentinian Soccer,” Culture, Sport, Society 2, no. 3 (1999): 118–33; Eduardo P. Archetti, Masculinities: Football, Polo and the Tango in Argentina (Oxford: Berg, 1999).


Brewster and Brewster, “Rank Outsider.”


Robert Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996).


Bennett M. Berger, An Essay on Culture: Symbolic Structure and Social Structure (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).


Mike Featherstone, Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity (London: Sage, 1990); Theda Skocpol, “Wallerstein's World Capitalist System: A Theoretical and Historical Critique,” American Journal of Sociology 82, no. 5 (1977): 1075–90.


Brewster and Brewster, “Olympic Diplomacy,” 54.


MacAloon, “Ethnographic Imperative,” 117.