My first debt is to the many retired women and men who sat with me for
long hours, sharing their memories of working lives spent in Medellín’s tex-
tile mills. Whether they agreed to let another take their turn at the domino
tables of the Asociación de Jubilados to answer questions for twenty or thirty
minutes, or they invited me into their homes for hours of taped conversation,
sometimes over various days, their willingness to talk to me provided me not
only with ‘‘material’’ but also with inspiration. Special thanks are due those
who immediately took an interest in my research, introducing me to friends
and family members who might also agree to record their memories of mill-
work. I am no less indebted to the retirees who simply made me think, even
if by sending me away brusquely, as did a woman who pronounced: ‘‘I worked
for thirty years, working is no fun. There’s nothing else to say.’’ Whether I
have succeeded or failed to understand what retirees tried to communicate in
our cross-generational conversations, I am grateful that I had an opportunity
to listen.
My family in Medellín adopted my research as it adopted me, a long-lost
gringa cousin. María Ester Sanín and Juan Guillermo Múnera contributed in
a thousand ways, providing moral and material support from beginning to
end. Not even they know how much their example has taught me about
giving, about comradeship, and about how to do the seemingly impossible:
be optimistic about Colombia’s future. I owe a special debt to Jaime Sanín
Echeverri and to the late José Sanín Echeverri, who explained Antioqueño
expressions, laughed over my tapes, lent me the car, and vouched for me to
factory archivists; I’m sorry to have known so jovial a grand-uncle for so
short a time. My time in Medellín has also been made special by the kindness
Previous Page Next Page