Timo Schaefer

History scholar specialized in Latin American history at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He conducts research on politics, legal culture and social movements in the 19th and 20th centuries in Mexico. His research project on CALAS is entitled “Violent Democracy: Raúl Gatica and Mexican Politics. 1963-2006”.

Timo Schaefer (Ph.D. Indiana University Bloomington 2015) is a historian and author of the book Liberalism as Utopia: The Rise and Fall of Legal Rule in Post-Colonial Mexico, 1820-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2017), award-winning as the best book in social sciences by the Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

Current work

Schaefer's current work is on social movements in Oaxaca during the transition from the PRI dictatorship to democracy. As part of this project, Schaefer investigates the biography of the indigenous activist Raúl Gatica, who currently resides in Canada as a political refugee.



Monographs (selection)

2017. Liberalism as Utopia: The Rise and Fall of Legal Rule in Post-Colonial Mexico, 1820-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Articles / Chapters (selection)

2014. “Law of the Land? Hacienda Power and the Challenge of Republicanism in Post-Independence Mexico”. En: Hispanic American Historical Review 94 (2). 207-236

2013. “Citizen-Breadwinners and Vagabond-Soldiers: Military Recruitment in Early Republican Southern Mexico”. Journal of Social History 46 (4). 953-970.

2013. “Soldiers and Civilians: The War of Independence in Oaxaca, 1814-1815”. Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 29 (1). 149-174.

2009. “Engaging Modernity: The Political Making of Indigenous Movements in Bolivia and Ecuador, 1900-2008”. Third World Quarterly 30 (2). 397-413.


Research Project as a fellow of CALAS

Title: "Violent Democracy: Raúl Gatica and Mexican Politics, 1963-2006"

Abstract: This project is an oral history of the life of the Oaxacan indigenous activist Raúl Gatica and of the role that this character played in the social movements that for several decades challenged the power of the PRI in Oaxaca. The experience of a protagonist of the civil society allows us to explore various aspects of the democratization process in Mexico, among them the follow-up of informal and patrimonial practices in the relationship between the state and social movements; the struggle between different ideologies and conceptions of "democracy" at a time when the meaning of that word would determine the future of the country's political institutions; and the use of state and paramilitary violence to defend powerful social interests. At the same time, this work tries to take an intimate look at the political sociability that nurtured the performance of a strong indigenous movement in Mexico as of the 1970s.