Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2010

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Angelo Restivo

Second Advisor

Hector L'Hoeste Fernandez

Third Advisor

Ted Friedman

Fourth Advisor

Alisa Perren

Fifth Advisor

Alessandra Raengo


This study investigates the participation of cinema in the continuing debates over Mexican national identity. Part one lays out the problem of defining “Mexicanness” in contemporary society, and demonstrates that during the 1990s a new attitude emerged amongst a younger generation that sought to redefine the image of the cosmopolitan Mexican urbanite. This section is devoted to the problematics of traditional discourses on Mexican identity, as well as to a theoretical shift away from a nationalist paradigm of identity formation towards a more flexible model that takes into consideration the global processes shaping contemporary Mexico. Part 2 analyzes three early Mexican films made by Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González Iñárritu, respectively Cronos (1993), Y tu mamá también (2001), and Amores perros (2000). I demonstrate through a heuristic model of the Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic how these films allegorize Mexico’s “coming to age tale” under the weight of political and economic changes. Part 3 shifts to the Hollywood films by these directors. Using a scalar concept, I illustrate how these directors’ works yield a new model for understanding the interconnectedness between the national and the transnational in a way that neither term is necessarily privileged, but rather coextensive.