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Constructing America

Constructing America

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 Constructing America
Source:
Walter Benjamin's Grave
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226790008.003.0002

This chapter presents an essay on a peasant poet in Colombia who, in reciting his epic verses, shatters all accepted frames of historical and social analysis that one can think of. The essay was delivered in the 1992 quincentenary of the European invasion of America, organized by the Colombian Anthropology Association. The poet was a very old, blind man, Tomás Zapata, who appears in the diaries, papers, photographs, and tape recordings discovered in the belongings of an unidentified young white man traveling from England and Australia. This man's name in the recordings appears simply as Miguel, and it seems that he went to live in the small town of Puerto Tejada, Cauca, in the southwest of Colombia in late 1969, two years before Zapata died. From these papers it appears that although Miguel's initial impulse was to write a history of the Violencia, the reason this traveler stayed almost two years was that he became interested in the local history of manumission and its aftermath.

Keywords:   invasion of America, Colombian Anthropology Association, Tomás Zapata, Violencia, Colombia

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