Office: 55 Holden Hall
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Dr. Zachary Brittsan specializes in the history of modern Mexico, particularly culture and society in nineteenth-century Jalisco. His first book, Popular Politics and Rebellion in Mexico (Vanderbilt University Press, 2015) focused on the career of a mestizo bandit, Manuel Lozada, who defied state and federal authorities for more than fifteen years. Dr. Brittsan's research pursued an understanding of peasant cultures by exploring rural conceptualizations of community and questioning the liberal values with which such communities are sometimes associated. He further analyzed agrarian disputes, religious negotiation, regional mafias, and Mexico's public sphere as they related to the Lozada rebellion.
Dr. Brittsan's current book project, Trying Modernity: Murder and Justice in Mexico's Age of Conflict, 1847-1871, examines wrongful death trials in Jalisco to reveal the ways in which judges, public defenders, and everyday citizens navigated the criminal justice system. Plotting the trajectory of individual voices across gender, ethnic, and social lines during murder trials will yield a collective portrait of everyday life at one of the extremes of the human condition. His research has garnered the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Texas Tech Humanities Center.
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). He has lived and studied extensively in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile. He encourages undergraduates to pursue educational opportunities abroad and looks forward to teaching Tech students in Seville, Spain in 2019.
Dr. Brittsan teaches courses on Mexican, Latin American, and World history.
Popular Politics and Rebellion in Mexico
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.