Law and History Review


Making Mexico: Legal Nationality, Chinese Race, and the 1930 Population Census

Kif Augustine-Adams

“Take the census; make the country. Let's do both together!” “Hacer censos, es hacer Patria. Ayúdenos a hacerlos” cajoled one bold, bright poster in the days before May 15, 1930 when census takers dispersed across Mexico to count its inhabitants. Other placards similarly played on multiple meanings for the verb “hacer”—to make or to do: “Taking a census will make the country …” “Hagamos censos y haremos patria…” At the same time, within that collective nation-building, a census jingle affirmed individual importance: “A census is a count. He who is numbered, counts. And he who counts, succeeds.” “Un censo es una cuenta. El que censa, cuenta. Y el que cuenta, acierta.” In government propaganda, the 1930 census made Mexico and drew its inhabitants into the national fold, an ongoing, delicate project after the fratricide of the 1910 Revolution.

Kif Augustine-Adams is Charles E. Jones Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University <>. For comments on various drafts, she thanks participants in the USC Law, Culture, and History workshop; Latin American Studies Association Annual Conference; Berkshire Conference on the History of Women; XXX Simposio de Historia y Antropología de Sonora; American Society for Legal History Annual Conference; Pacific Coast Branch/American Historical Association conference; Law & Society Annual Meeting; the BYU faculty workshop series; and to the editor and the anonymous reviewers of Law and History Review.