Gamio Martínez, Manuel (1883–1960)

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Gamio Martínez, Manuel (1883–1960)

Manuel Gamio Martínez (b. 2 March 1883; d. 16 July 1960), a Mexican anthropologist considered the initiator of modern indigenismo studies in Mexico and an activist in Latin American and European societies promoting the examination and preservation of indigenous cultures.

The son of Gabriel Gamio and Marina Martínez, wealthy landowners in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, Gamio was educated in private schools and the National Preparatory School before studying archaeology under Nicolás León and Jesús Galindo y Villa in the National Museum in Mexico City. A student of Franz Boas at Columbia University, he obtained his M.A. in 1911 and returned for a Ph.D. in anthropology in 1921.

Returning to Mexico, Gamio undertook the organization of and became director for the department of anthropology in the secretariat of agriculture (1917–1920). From 1917 to 1920 he also led the first comprehensive exploration of the Teotihuacán ruins in the center of Mexico City's commercial district, where he discovered the templo mayor. Before 1925 he led other explorations and restorations of archaeological sites, including ones in Yucatán and Guatemala. He was a leader of educational and government institutions devoted to archaeological research and served briefly as undersecretary of public education in 1925. Thereafter he gave up archaeology to devote himself to protecting contemporary Indian cultures.

While concentrating on his research and academic pursuits, Gamio also held positions in the secretariat of agriculture and at the Institute for Social Research of the National University during the 1930s. In 1942 he became director of the Inter-American Indigenous Institute, a position he held until his death. Francisco Goitia, a noted Mexican painter, was a close collaborator. Gamio left a prolific body of published works.

See alsoAnthropology; Indigenous Peoples.


Manuel Gamio, Forjando patria (1916).

Manuel Gamio and José Vasconcelos, Aspects of Mexican Civilization (1926).

Universidad Nacional Autónomo De México, Estudios antropológicos publicados en homenaje al Dr. Manuel Gamio (1956).

Angeles González Gamio, Manuel Gamio, una lucha sin final (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Alanís Enciso, Fernando Saúl. "Manuel Gamino: El inicio de las investigaciones sobre la inmigración mexicana a Estados Unidos." Historia Mexicana 52:4 (April-June 2003): 979-1020.

Tenorio Trillo, Mauricio. "Stereophonic Scientific Modernisms: Social Sciences between Mexico and the United States, 1880s–1930s." The Journal of American History 86:3 (December 1999): 1156-1187.

Walsh, Casey. "Región, raza y riego: El desarrollo del norte mexicano, 1910–1940." Nueva Antropología 19:64 (January-April 2005): 53-73.

                                         Roderic Ai Camp