With the 2023 Turriano ICOHTEC Prize, Montaño’s book has won its fifth award.
Diana Montaño, associate professor of history, has won the 2023 Turriano ICOHTEC Prize for her book, “Electrifying Mexico: Technology and the Transformation of a Modern City” (University of Texas Press). Sponsored by the Juanelo Turriano Foundation of Madrid, Spain, the prize is awarded annually to the best books on the history of technology.
The Turriano ICOHTEC jury applauded Montaño's approach, which is a shift from the elite and systems perspective to a view from the ground up. “Montaño takes a postcolonial approach on modernity and modernizing nation-states and the western/non-western dichotomy,” they wrote. “Her work is a valuable, well-researched and well-argued contribution to the effort of many among us to finally bury the diffusionist vision of technology as spreading from the developed West to the backward rest of the world.”
“Electrifying Mexico” has received numerous honors since its publication in 2021, including the 2022 Alfred B. Thomas Book Award, the 2022 Urban History Association’s Best Book in Non-North American Urban History (co-winner), and the Bolton-Johnson Prize, the top award in the field of Latin American history. It was also a finalist for the 2023 IEEE William and Joyce Middleton Electrical Engineering History Award.
The book examines the role electricity played in Mexico’s political and economic evolution. Montaño’s analysis centers on the everyday lives of citizens and how their ambitions shaped the emerging technology. She also explores how electricity colored issues of gender, race, and class in ways specific to Mexico.