I will illustrate the kind of work that was accomplished by this intelligentsia by referring to a book that was published in the English and French by Justo Sierra and a team of illustrious científicos in 1900, Mexico: Its Social Evolution. This work is of special interest not only because Sierra was such a prominent and influential figure in Mexican culture and education, but also because it was printed specially in foreign languages, and its lavishly produced illustrations seem to answer point by point the negative comments and images of Mexico offered by Tylor [“Anáhuac”, 1861] and other travelers.
Tylor complained of the state of abandon of Mexican education and its subordination to a retrograde church; Justo Sierra provided discussions of the development of Mexican positive science. Tylor smiled ironically at the lack of attention that was given to Mexico’s history and patrimony; Sierra shows the National Museum of Anthropology and the ways in which Mexico’s once conflict-torn races have been neatly studied and organized in it. Finally, Tylor noted the arbitrariness of Mexico’s government and lack of justice and institutions of social reform. Sierra shows the rapid and impressive development of courts of law, of councils, hospitals, schools, museums and prisons. In short, while Tylor spoke of country that had been ravaged by revolution, Sierra’s book spoke of evolution.
— Claudio Lomnitz. Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico. An Anthropology of Nationalism. 2001.