|Notes and excerpts - Delattre:||
The on-going question of national identity is common to all nations with a colonial history - including, of course, the United States. Perez-Brignoli repeatedly brings up the Central American dream of unity (or at least solidarity between the countries). What stands in the way?
Here is an interesting bit from Perez-Brignoli:
"Race and ethnicity added a multicolor tint to the harshly exploitative relations. This racial variety is undeniable. since the seventeenth century the African settlements on the Atlantic Coast had blended into the Pre-Columbian cultures. All were oppressed and alienated cultures whose roots to the past had been cut. The impossibility of achieving a complete cultural identity reveals one of the most subtle aspects of domination." (P-B p.9)
I love this quote out of Dubois. The speaker is abolitionist Mirabeau during debate over the number of colonial delegates from Saint Domingue should be allowed go sit in the National Assembly. The the planter-merchant alliance argued that their numbers should be based on the total population of the colony. Mirabeau's response:
"The free blacks are proprietors and taxpayers, and yet they have not been allowed to vote. And as for the slaves, either they are men of they are not; if the colonists consider them men, let them free them and make them eligible for seats; if the contrary is the case, have we, in apportioning deputies accordingto the population of France, taken into consideration the number of our horses and mules?" (Dubois, p. 75)
A vivid anecdote:
When they searched his [an insurgent in the 1791 uprising] body, they found "in one of his pockets pamphlets printed in France, filled with commonplaces about the Rights of Man and the Sacred Revolution; in his vest pocket was a large packet of tinder and phosphate and lime. On his chest he had a little sack full of hair, herbs, and bits of bone, which they call a fetish." The law of liberty, ingredients for firing a gun, and a powerful amulet to call on the help of the gods: clearly, a potent combination. (Dubois, p. 102)
My clueless greed award goes to Thomas Jefferson speaking on the slave revolt to a French ambassador in Washington in 1801:
. . . Jefferson wondered whether it would be possible to declare the island independent but keep it "under the protection" of France, the United States, and Britain. The three powers, he noted, could work together to "confine this disease to its island." "As long as we don't allow the blacks to possess a ship we can allow them to exist and even maintain very lucrative commercial contacts with them." (Dubois, p. 225)
For Bananas: An interesting current events connection is the recent (unsuccessful) effort to use the Alien Tort Act to reign in multi-national corporation human rights abuses abroad -- see the Chevron trial in San Francisco over human rights abuses during a protest on a company oil platform in Nigeria. The Alien Tort Claims Act was adopted in 1789 during the creation of the original federal judicial system for the United States. A lawsuit invoking the Alien Tort Claim has never won at trial, but has resulted in public relations nightmares for companies by bringing foreign practices to light -- for example, the lawsuit brought against Yahoo accusing it of illegally helping the Chinese government jail and torture two journalists (Yahoo settled out of court).
For Confronting the American Dream: Nicaragua Under U.S. Imperial Rule:
From Amy Benedicty:
Timeline for the French Revolution ( A clear timeline I found helpful for reading Dubois. From the Marxists Internet Archive - the bits of Marxist language would make an interesting class discussion in itself.)
State department background notes on Nicaragua.
Co-sponsored by the Bay Area Global Education Program (BAGEP), World Affairs Council of Northern California, and University of California at Berkeley Office of Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS).
Contact: Michele Delattre at the Office of Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS) at email@example.com or by calling 510/643-0868.