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The Concept of Sentimental Boyhood

The Emotional Education of Boys in Mexico during the Early Porfiriato, 1876–1884

Carlos Zúñiga Nieto

Keywords: anger; boys; emotions; Mexico; Porfiriato; positivism

This article explores the popularization of the concept of sentimental boyhood during the anticolonial insurrections in the Ten Years’ War (1868– 1878) and the Caste War (1847–1901) in Cuba and the Yucatán Peninsula in the early 1870s. The concept was popularized as childhood advocates articulated a uniquely Mexican emotional standard in the process of child-rearing, promoting the individual cultivation of honor, the management of anger, and the use of fear as discipline. Beginning in the 1870s, Mexican educators popularized theories of boyhood drawing on European notions of boyhood, including work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. While educators promoted Rousseau’s and Pestalozzi’s “sentimental notions of boyhood” in rural Yucatán, pedagogues in Mexico City advocated the use of fear to instill obedience among boys.

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