Montaño’s "Electrifying Mexico" named best book by Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies

Diana Montaño

Diana Montaño, assistant professor of history, has won the Alfred B. Thomas Award for her book Electrifying Mexico: Technology and the Transformation of a Modern City (University of Texas Press). Awarded annually by the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies (SECOLAS), the honor recognizes the best book on a Latin American subject in the past year.

“Montaño’s case-study of the electrification of Mexico makes contributions not only to the history of Mexico, but also, it provides a model of stellar scholarship,” the committee said of her work at the annual conference. “Her writing style is simply beautiful, her book, a delight to read.”

In Electrifying Mexico, Montaño explores the making of electrified spaces and how people led that electrification and then navigated those emerging spaces. She writes about the experience of electricity through lighting, public celebrations, streetcar accidents, power theft, electrical appliances, and the nationalization of the electrical industry.

“The Alfred B. Thomas Award is personally a special one to me because of the Council's interdisciplinary nature,” Montaño said. “It was incredibly enriching to have the selection committee recognize Electrifying Mexico for its wide diversity of sources and disciplinary approaches and its contribution to and beyond the discipline of history.”

Montaño has received other accolades for her research into electrification as well. Her paper, “Ladrones de Luz: Policing Electricity in Mexico City, 1901 – 1918” received honorable mention in the Sturgis Leavitt Award for best article, also from SECOLAS. In April, she will give a talk at Harvard University as part of a roundtable on placing histories of energy.