The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, Mexican writer Salvador Novo reflects on traditional Mexican arts and handicrafts. In the early twentieth century, wealthy Mexicans considered Mexican artesanías inferior to fine European furnishings. After the Mexican Revolution, there was a shift in tastes of the bourgeoisie away from neoclassical decoration and toward the Toltec and Mayan artistic traditions. According to Novo, despite the increased valorization of indigenous artisanship, handicrafts no longer presented a viable livelihood for Mexican peasants. The author illustrates this point, recounting a scenario in which a tourist travels throughout Mexico, stopping by the roadside to purchase a straw doll, a mask, or a decorated pitcher from a craftsman in rags. The craftsman gains only a few centavos from the transaction although it may have taken the artesanías several days of labor to craft. The tourist then continues on to a luxury European-style hotel in Mexico City while the craftsman returns to his mud hut. In this vignette, preexisting systems of oppression make it impossible for hardworking peasants to reap any significant profit from their labor. Novo argues that to make good on the promises of the Revolution, Mexican craftspeople must learn efficient and economically viable ways to produce their wares.
Salvador Novo (1904–1974) was a Mexican poet, playwright, writer, and translator. Novo’s published volumes of poetry include XX poemas (1925), Nuevo amor (1933), Espejo (1933), Seamen Rhymes (1934), Décimas en el mar (1934), Romance de Angelillo y Adela (1934), Poemas proletarios (1934), Never ever (1934), Un poema (1937), Poesías escogidas (1938), Dueño mío: Cuatro sonetos inéditos (1944), Decimos: "Nuestra tierra" (1944), Florido laude (1945), Dieciocho sonetos (1955), Poesía (1915–1955), Sátira (1955), and Poesía (l961). Novo was elected to the Mexican Language Academy, and was a member of ‘Los Contemporáneos’ a group of avant-garde Mexican writers. Novo worked as a professor of literature at the National Preparatory School, and professor of history at the National Conservatory of Music. He also participated in the experimental Teatro de Ulises. In 1967, he won the National Prize for Literature. He was one of the first openly homosexual Mexican writers, and in his writings, Novo defied stereotypes of machismo, satirized bourgeoisie society, and critiqued the press. “Nuestras Artes Populares," written for the monthly magazine, Nuestro Mexico, reflects Novo’s defense of the rights of workers and the lower class (he was a member of the Mexican Socialist party), and his promotion of Mexican cultural values.