Imagined Communities: Historical Sites and Nation-building in High Schools

Last registered on June 24, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Imagined Communities: Historical Sites and Nation-building in High Schools
Initial registration date
June 14, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 24, 2024, 2:02 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Nation-states rely on a sense of shared identity constructed through narrative. Anderson (1983) argued that nations are “Imagined Communities” constructed by narrative, schools, museums, monuments and maps. We study the impact of a high-school program in Mexico that takes low-income students to visit sites that are an integral part of the Mexican nation’s history. We examine whether this generates a heightened sense of national identity and reduces feelings of exclusion, and the extent to which this generates public good provision, political participation, and government legitimacy. We do this as part of a new program created by the government of Puebla (“Journeys of National Heritage”) that is currently being scaled up.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Krause, Benjamin et al. 2024. " Imagined Communities: Historical Sites and Nation-building in High Schools." AEA RCT Registry. June 24.
Experimental Details


We work with “Journeys of National Heritage”, a program run by the city of Puebla, Mexico, in which high school students from low-income schools with a high proportion of Indigenous students are taken on a 5-hour tour of the most important historical cultural sites of Puebla, spanning indigenous settlement, the war for Independence, the subsequent revolution against the dictatorship, and UNESCO cultural heritage sites. The tour culminates by exploring the underground tunnels and emerging onto the battlefield of the famous Cinco de Mayo victory over the French. The Tour script was developed in collaboration with local experts from textbooks, national curricula, and sites of Puebla to generate a vivid and lyrical narrative of the mestizo national identity of Mexico, emphasizing national pride and ethnic inclusion. History is described as a continuing line from the original indigenous Mexicans to today, with Mexicans of all classes and skin colors present in art, traditions, and battles. The script emphasizes the critical role that women have played in Mexico’s history. Each tour consisted of 20-25 students with professional tour guides trained in the script and an enumerator for observation throughout. The intervention started Sept 2023, and we uploaded it on that date but submitted it in June 2024, before the medium-run follow-up survey but after the short-run survey.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1a) Increase in self-reported nationalism and national identity. Survey measures include the following: War = 1 if answered affirmatively to the question “If Mexico were in a war and needed volunteers, and they asked you to enlist, Would you do it?” None like Mex =1 if answered "None" to the following question: “Thinking about the countries on this list, which country would you like Mexico to resemble more?”. Mex Identity=1 if they answer "traditions and culture", or "nationality", in the following question: “Which of the following defines your identity more”, Religion, friends, sports/music, economic class, politics, traditions and culture, nationality." Plans to stay in Mex =1 answered "Not abroad" to the question "Where would you like to carry out your plans after High School?", and other measures of nationalism (including applying for Mexican military ID). We would also create a standardized index of these measures.

1b) Increased revealed measures of nationalism and national identity: Higher number of times they choose Mexican art (incentivized questions measuring if they want to have Mexican vs. European art in posters). Higher enrollment to the parade where Parade=1 if they enrolled in marching or helping in Mexican national holiday parades. Higher rate for starting the application to get the military ID card, among others. Higher pride in Mexico using IAT. We will also create a standardized index for these.

2a) Self-perception: more willing to say they have Indigenous origins (Indigenous =1 if answered yes to "Do you consider yourself to be of Indigenous ancestry?" Higher self-reporting they have darker skin color. Higher willingness to devote their incentive money to buy a DNA test to inquire about the ancestry. We will also use a standardized index for these. Moreover, we expect lower measured negative self-feelings in an essay analyzed with the NRC Emotion Lexicon (anger, sadness, fear, and negative emotions).

2b) Perceptions of other Mexicans and inclusion. Higher likelihood to be willing to interact with darker-skinned people (if they are themselves dark). More willing to describe dark-skinned people with positive characteristics. Second-order beliefs: reporting it is more likely that others see them as Mexican, Indigenous, or darker skinned.

3) No backlash towards foreigners: we expect no negative effect measured by incentivized dictator games, no differential affect measured with affective thermometer questions ("We would like to know your stance towards some groups. For the following groups, rate them from 0 to 10 (0 means that you completely reject”. Americans; Europeans). No self-reported difference in trust. Foreigners =1 if the student trusts foreigners (3 or 4, in a 1-4 Likert). No difference in whether Mexicans should have priority in jobs (dummy =1 of Strongly Agree, Agree; =0 if Disagree, Strongly Disagree to the question "when jobs are scarce in Mexico, employers should give priority to Mexicans over foreigners"). Not rating pictures of lighter skinned people with negative attributes. We will also create a standardized index of these.

4a) Self-reporting higher involvement in community and community self-efficacy. Higher rates of affirmative answers in Can make a difference =1 if the answer agrees or strongly agrees with the question "Young people in Mexico can improve the country by voting and participating in political life", and also in Responsible for my community =1 if answers Yes to "I feel responsible for my community." We will also create a standardized index of these.

4b) Revealed more actual participation in the community. More willing to enroll in blood donations database. More willing to enroll to clean public spaces, as in Volunteering club =1 if the student enrolled in club to clean streets and parks and school. We will also create a standardized index of these.

5a) Increased government legitimacy and civic participation (self-reported): Higher voting intentions, "Plan to vote" =1 if student plans to vote when she turns 18. Higher satisfaction with democracy=1 if student is satisfied with democracy in Mexico. Higher interest in politics asked directly. More informed about factual current events. Job in Gov =1 if answered Look for a job in government to the question "What are your plans after finishing high school?". We will also create a standardized index of these.

5b) Increased government legitimacy and civic participation (revealed). More willingness to be a poll worker, Poll Worker =1 if the student is willing to register as poll worker for the next election. Higher willingness to devote incentive money for a subscription to newspaper. We will also create a standardized index of these.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design

Randomization will be done at the student level (stratified within classroom and student characteristics) within about 25 public high schools with low-income second-year students (16-17 years of age). We will randomize close to 2600 students within-school and within-classroom students to the following arms:

●Treatment (1300 students): tour of historical places. This will consist of a 5-hour tour of the major historical sites in Puebla that connect through time and have nationwide significance.
●Control (1300 students): will not go on the tour but will have a normal school day instead.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is done in the office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The individual students
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No cluster. Individual student randomziation
Sample size: planned number of observations
2600 approximately
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1300 students on each of the two arms.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Help Mexico in war Mean=.73; TE=0.04; power=42% None like Mex Mean=.44; TE=0.06; power=85% Mex. Identity Mean=.23; TE=0.04; power=63% Stays in Mexico Mean=.81; TE=0.03; power=50% Mexican art Mean=3.39; TE=0.24; sd=1.39, power=98% Indigenous Mean=.55; TE=0.08; power=98% DNA Mean=.51; TE=0.04; power=71% Sadness and other feelings TE=1sd; power=72% Make a difference Mean=.88; TE=0.03; power=68% Responsible for Comm Mean=.69; TE=0.05; power=79% Job in Gov Mean=.28; TE=0.04; power=58% Volunteer time Mean=.18; TE=0.05; power=87% Voting Mean=.70; TE=0.06; power=92% Poll worker Mean=.55; TE=0.04; power=52% Interested in politics Mean=.55; TE=0.06; power=86% Support for Democracy Mean=.70; TE=0.04; power=60% These calculations are not exhaustive and are simple in that they do not include regressors or blocking. They also do not include corrections for multiple testing and do not take into account that because most of our hypotheses are one-sided, we can use one-sided tests and achieve more power.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Chicago IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number