Offers an historical overview of the social dynamics of the 20th century.
Challenging the widely held belief that Nicaragua has been ethnically homogeneous since the nineteenth century, To Die in This Way reveals the continued existence and importance of an officially "forgotten" indigenous culture. Jeffrey L. Gould argues that mestizaje--a cultural homogeneity that has been hailed as a cornerstone of Nicaraguan national identity--involved a decades-long process of myth building.Through interviews with indigenous peoples and records of the elite discourse that suppressed the expression of cultural differences and rationalized the destruction of Indian communities, Gould tells a story of cultural loss. Land expropriation and coerced labor led to cultural alienation that shamed the indigenous population into shedding their language, religion, and dress. Beginning with the 1870s, Gould historicizes the forces that prompted a collective movement away from a strong identification with indigenous cultural heritage to an "acceptance" of a national mixed-race identity.By recovering a significant part of Nicaraguan history that has been excised from the national memory, To Die in This Way critiques the enterprise of third world nation-building and thus marks an important step in the study of Latin American culture and history that will also interest anthropologists and students of social and cultural historians.
This book is a carefully argued study of peasants and labor during the Somoza regime, focusing on popular movements in the economically strategic department of Chinandega in western Nicaragua. Jeffrey Gould traces the evolution of group consciousness among peasants and workers as they moved away from extreme dependency on the patron to achieve an autonomous social and political ideology. In doing so, he makes important contributions to peasant studies and theories of revolution, as well as our understanding of Nicaraguan history.According to Gould, when Anastasio Somoza first came to power in 1936, workers and peasants took the Somocista reform program seriously. Their initial acceptance of Somocismo and its early promises of labor rights and later ones of land redistribution accounts for one of the most peculiar features of the pre-Sandinista political landscape: the wide gulf separating popular movements and middle-class opposition to the government. Only the alliance of the Frente Sandinista (FSLN) and the peasant movement would knock down the wall of silence between the two forces.
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