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A Central American Genocide: Rubber, Slavery, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Guatusos-Malekus

  • MARC EDELMAN (a1)
Extract

In 1919, when Carlos Gagini penned this two-sentence definition of hulero for a dictionary of “Costa Rican-isms,” he matter of factly specified murderousness, slaving, terrorism, and Nicaraguan nationality as intrinsic characteristics of rubber tappers. Few other entries in Gagini's compilation reveal so tellingly a key implicit objective of the country lexicons that Central American intellectuals (for example, Membreño 1982 [1895]) began to publish in the late nineteenth century: the specification, through Spanish dialectology, of a still emergent national identity vis-è-vis neighbors who—until recently—had not been clearly distinct Others but simply fellow subjects first of one or another province of the Spanish Captaincy General of Guatemala and later, briefly, of the Mexican Empire (1821–23) and the independent Central American Federation (1823–38). And none of the other generally concise entries in Gagini's dictionary hints so directly at the links between processes of commodity creation, physical and cultural death, and the construction of nations.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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