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Xuxub Must Die: The Lost Histories Of A Murder On The Yucatan (Pitt Latin American Studies)

Sullivan, Paul

Verlag: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004
ISBN 10: 0822942305 / ISBN 13: 9780822942306
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Titel: Xuxub Must Die: The Lost Histories Of A ...

Verlag: University of Pittsburgh Press

Erscheinungsdatum: 2004

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand: New


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Inhaltsangabe: Go looking for the old sugar plantation once famous in the Yucatan as Xuxub, and you will find only the crumbling remains of an old smokestack and a few scattered floor tiles by the river. This once bustling estate is now shrouded in mystery and leafy vegetation, and only a handful of Maya living nearby can still locate it. Little remains in common memory of Xuxub, although what happened there in 1875 made front-page news in New York, vexed Mexican-American relations for over fifty years, and has become a legend among the Maya people.

The American engineer and entrepreneur Robert Stephens went into business as the plantation manager of Xuxub in 1872. He had a prosperous first few years, expanding the business and making a handsome profit. But one hot October morning three years later, he was murdered, along with many of his workers and their wives and children, in a planned attack by rebel Maya. To this day no one knows why. Was it the result of feuding between aristocratic landholders for greater power? Was it the culmination of years of abuse of Maya plantation workers? Was a notorious rebel leader seeking plunder and fame?

Paul Sullivan first heard of Xuxub when he was living with the Maya as an anthropologist. Nearly a decade later, work on another story led him to archival records about the murder. Intrigued, he researched the tale from different points of view, exploring the Mexican political and economic climate, the effects of U.S. expansionism, and the world of an indigenous people struggling to regain control of their lives and land. The characters who emerge in Xuxub Must Die almost seem drawn from fiction: an Irish American couple from Hoboken who once ran a Cuban slave plantation; a brash, young American consul; a power-hungry Maya general who argues with God; a sadistic plantation master who possesses the lowest moral character of Mexico's landed gentry; and the author himself, a man struggling to make sense of these cryptic events and people.

Writing in the tradition of some of today's best journalistic nonfiction, Sullivan unfolds the riddle of Xuxub to reveal much more than the bare bones of what happened on that long-ago October day. He follows the trails of fact, opinion, and myth, examining the motives and perspectives of those whose lives Xuxub most affected. In the end, the story itself becomes a clue to a greater mystery: that of the power of narrative to create and dispel truth, to bind individuals together or drive them apart, and to capture the identity, hopes, and fears of a people.

Inhaltsangabe: Today, foreigners travel to the Yucatan for ruins, temples, and pyramids, white sand beaches and clear blue water. One hundred years ago, they went for cheap labor, an abundance of land, and the opportunity to make a fortune exporting cattle, henequen fiber, sugarcane, or rum. Sometimes they found death. In 1875 an American plantation manager named Robert Stephens and a number of his workers were murdered by a band of Maya rebels. To this day, no one knows why. Was it the result of feuding between aristocratic families for greater power and wealth? Was it the foreseeable consequence of years of oppression and abuse of Maya plantation workers? Was a rebel leader seeking money and fame - or perhaps retribution for the loss of the woman he loved? For whites, the events that took place at Xuxub, Stephens's plantation, are virtually unknown, even though they engendered a diplomatic and legal dispute that vexed Mexican-U.S. relations for over six decades. The construction of "official" histories allowed the very name of Xuxub to die, much as the plantation itself was subsumed by the jungle. For the Maya, however, what happened at Xuxub is more than a story they pass down through generations.

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