Money Talks | Making Mexico

Making Mexico:The Imagery of Nation-Building on Mexican Currency
with Peter S. Dunham, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Cleveland State University

Saturday, June 1 | 1:00 – 4:00 pm
$30 for members, $50 for non-members

Mexico, with its tumultuous history of political upheaval, offers an ideal laboratory in which to consider how the imagery on currency is used to help forge national identity.  Pr. Dunham will examine several important chapters in the Mexican saga, beginning with a look at how native Mexican images were employed on coins to help create Mexico’s initial separatist vision of itself in the decades surrounding the War of Independence around 1820.  Then he will reflect on how such indigenous Mexican images were systematically avoided on paper money during the French occupation of the 1860s in order not to fan further nationalist resistance.  Finally, he will survey how native Mexican images were revived on paper money under the restored Mexican government of the late 1800s to reassert Mexican autonomy and identity.  Mexico’s wars of sovereignty were fought physically on bloody battlefields and symbolically on its currency.

Pr. Peter Dunham received his BA from Colgate University in prehistory and his MA and PhD from the State University of New York at Albany in anthropology, with a specialization in archaeology. An archaeologist at Cleveland State University in Ohio since 1990, he has focused his work on Native American civilizations, in particular the ancient Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula. For a number of years, he directed a major project funded by the National Geographic Society on Maya resource exploitation and exchange in the Maya Mountains of Belize, where he discovered over a dozen previously unreported sites. In recent years, he has turned his attention toward the use of archaeological and indigenous imagery on coins and currency for the purpose of building national identity, especially in Mexico.

Space is limited. RSVP to Emma Pratte at

Money Talks: Numismatic Conversations is supported by an ANS endowment fund generously given in honor of Mr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli and Mrs. Elvira Clain-Stefanelli.