To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932
To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932

To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-1932

by Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago, Jeffrey L. Gould

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To Rise in Darkness offers a new perspective on a defining moment in modern Central American history. In January 1932 thousands of indigenous and ladino (non-Indian) rural laborers, provoked by electoral fraud and the repression of strikes, rose up and took control of several municipalities in central and western El Salvador. Within days the military and civilian militias retook the towns and executed thousands of people, most of whom were indigenous. This event, known as la Matanza (the massacre), has received relatively little scholarly attention. In To Rise in Darkness, Jeffrey L. Gould and Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago investigate memories of the massacre and its long-term cultural and political consequences.

Gould conducted more than two hundred interviews with survivors of la Matanza and their descendants. He and Lauria-Santiago combine individual accounts with documentary sources from archives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Washington, London, and Moscow. They describe the political, economic, and cultural landscape of El Salvador during the 1920s and early 1930s, and offer a detailed narrative of the uprising and massacre. The authors challenge the prevailing idea that the Communist organizers of the uprising and the rural Indians who participated in it were two distinct groups. Gould and Lauria-Santiago demonstrate that many Communist militants were themselves rural Indians, some of whom had been union activists on the coffee plantations for several years prior to the rebellion. Moreover, by meticulously documenting local variations in class relations, ethnic identity, and political commitment, the authors show that those groups considered “Indian” in western El Salvador were far from homogeneous. The united revolutionary movement of January 1932 emerged out of significant cultural difference and conflict.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822381242
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 07/09/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Jeffrey L. Gould is James H. Rudy Professor of History and Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Indiana. His books include To Die in This Way: Nicaraguan Indians and the Myth of Mestizaje, 1880–1965, also published by Duke University Press. He is a co-producer and co-director of the documentary film Scars of Memory: El Salvador, 1932.

Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University. He is the author of An Agrarian Republic: Commercial Agriculture and the Politics of Peasant Communities in El Salvador, 1823–1914 and a coeditor of Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1. Garden of Despair: the Political Economy of Class, Land, and Labor, 1920-1929 1

2. A Bittersweet Transition: Politics and Labor in the 1920s 32

3. Fiestas of the Oppressed: The Social Geography and Culture of Mobilization 63

4. "Ese Trabajo Era Enteramente de los Naturales": Ethnic Conflict and Mestizaje in Western Salvador, 1914-1931 99

5. "To the Face of the Entire World": Repression and Radicalization, September 1931-January 1932 132

6. Red Ribbons and Machetes: The Insurrection of January 1932 170

7. "They Killed the Just for the Sinners": The Counterrevolutionary Massacres 209

8. Memories of La Matanza: The Political and Cultural Consequences of 1932 240

Epilogue 275

Afterword 281

Notes 291

Bibliography 343

Index 355

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