Routes of compromise: Road building and motor transportation in modern Mexico, 1920-1950

Michael Kirkland Bess, University of Texas at El Paso


“Routes of Compromise" studies the creation and function of the government bureaucracy that built motor roads and highways, and the everyday impact of those roadways on public life in Mexico. It covers roughly thirty years of construction efforts from 1920 to the early 1950s as foreign and domestic actors, working at the transnational, national, state, and local levels, established a series of policy and investment programs that became the primary model for infrastructure development in Mexico during the mid-twentieth century. Road building offers a unique perspective to the study of Mexican state formation, underscoring how the national government sought to forge public consensus around economic modernization through political compromises that ceded power to state governors and also responded to the particular demands of local communities interested in access to regional motor travel. The field engineers and construction brigades tasked with the technical aspects of this work represented one part of a larger collection of agencies, specialists, politicians, laborers, contractors, and everyday citizens who collaborated on, contested, and ultimately built Mexico's motor road network. This work is a social history of this bureaucracy in Mexico with special attention paid to the evolution of its organizational structure at the state and local levels.

Subject Area

Latin American history|Economic history|History

Recommended Citation

Bess, Michael Kirkland, "Routes of compromise: Road building and motor transportation in modern Mexico, 1920-1950" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3609475.