introduction
Who Controls the Past Controls the Future
Whocontrolsthepast...controlsthefuture;whocontrolsthepresent,controlsthe
—George Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty Four
This book is a metahistory of a small place. It analyzes class, gender,
ethnic upheavals in rural Nicaragua from the colonial period to the tw
tieth century. Mycentral premise is that class, gender, and ethnicitycan
separatedtheoreticallybutnotexperientially.1
Thisisahistoryof Dirio
aNicaraguanmunicipalityadjacenttothecityofGranadaontheplatea
villages known as the Meseta de los Pueblos.The storyof Diriomo thr
into sharp relief the everyday struggles of ordinary women and men, an
illustrates the Marxist maxim that people’s efforts to make historyare c
ditioned bycircumstances inherited from the
past.2
Peasantcommunitiesfrequentlyexudeanauraoftimelessness.3
Initia
whenIproposedtolocalleadersthatIwriteahistoryof Diriomo,theyt
me that nothing had ever happened there. Diriomo was, in their word
pueblo without history.They suggested that I write about Niquinoho
Sandino’s birthplace, or Masaya, the cradle of the Sandinista Revoluti
But, as I suspected, politics and society in the township had changed f
damentallyinthepreviousonehundredyears.Beforethetwentiethcent
thevastmajorityofDiriomeños(residentsofthetownship)wereIndian,
virtuallyalllandinthepueblobelongedcollectivelytothemenofDiriom
Indian community (comunidad indígena). At that time, class and ethnic
ferences in Diriomo were modest, but gender differentiation considera
as Indian women were excluded from the common property regime.
Between 1870 and 1930 Diriomeños’ everyday life turned upside do
The state abolished the Indian community. Private property replaced co
mon property. Planters developed large coffee fincas (estates) in the to
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