Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Dr. Zachary Brittsan specializes in the history of modern Mexico, particularly political culture in rural Jalisco between 1855 and 1876. His book, Popular Politics and Rebellion in Mexico (Vanderbilt University Press, 2015),focuses on the career of a mestizo bandit, Manuel Lozada, who defied state and federal authorities for more than fifteen years. Dr. Brittsan’s research pursues an understanding of peasant cultures by exploring regional conceptualizations of community and questioning the liberal values with which such communities are sometimes associated. He further analyzes agrarian disputes, religious negotiation, regional mafias, and Mexico’s public sphere as they relate to the Lozada rebellion.
Dr. Brittsan completed a B.A. at Willamette University (1999), an M.A. at the University of California, San Diego (2006), and a Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego (2010). As an undergraduate and graduate student, he has lived and studied extensively in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile. He continues to encourage students to pursue educational opportunities abroad.
Dr. Brittsan teaches courses on Mexican, Latin American, and World history.
The political conflict during Mexico's Reform era in the mid-nineteenth century was a visceral battle between ideologies and people from every economic and social class. As Popular Politics and Rebellion in Mexico develops the story of this struggle, the role of one key rebel, Manuel Lozada, comes into focus. The willingness of rural peasants to take up arms to defend the Catholic Church and a conservative political agenda explains the bitterness of the War of Reform and the resulting financial and political toll that led to the French Intervention. Exploring the activities of rural Jalisco's residents in this turbulent era and Lozada's unique position in the drama, Brittsan reveals the deep roots of colonial religious and landholding practices, exemplified by Lozada, that stood against the dominant political current represented by Benito Juarez and liberalism.