Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dario Euraque: Required Reading

In cities across Honduras, the release of historian Darío Euraque's book, El golpe de Estado, el patrimonio cultural y la identidad nacional [The coup d'etat, cultural patrimony, and national identity] is being marked, starting this coming week.

The event marking the release of the book in San Pedro Sula will be December 11.

We won't be there in person; but as we have since June 28, we will be there in spirit for our colleague and for others who, like him, struggled and continue to struggle to bring Hondurans into a conversation of what it means to be a people without giving into the logics of the modern nation-state.

Euraque has a record of publication which is, quite simply, indispensable to anyone wanting to understand cultural identity in modern Honduras. A previous book, Conversaciones históricas con el mestizaje y su identidad nacional en Honduras [Historical conversations about mestizaje and national identity in Honduras], published in 2004, reframes the conversation about Honduras' roots in indigenous, African, and European populations and how that diversity has come to be misrecognized.

Even earlier, in the 1996 Reinterpreting the Banana Republic, Euraque established a unique focus that refused to homogenize the Honduran past, and that resisted easy simplification. For anyone studying the north coast, it was an unparalleled examination of the local social networks and their influence in the 20th century history of the Honduran state.

And of course, Euraque coined the term "mayanization" to label the process through which deliberate promotion of an image of the Honduran precolumbian past as entirely Maya-- thus making the histories of other Honduran indigenous groups valueless and invisible.

I have had the privilege of reading a draft of Euraque's latest book. It offers a unique, and to me still painful, record of how the practice of liberatory historical research became one of the targets of a reactionary right-wing coup in Honduras. Like all Euraque's works, it is meticulously supported by a rich documentary record. It is a kind of study that really is without equal, despite two decades (or more) of examinations of the pernicious tangle of nationalism and "cultural heritage" (the conceptualize of the physical remains of past people in an area as a property owned by the modern nation, often bolstering that nation's claim to coherent historical reality).

We do not know yet how the book will be distributed in the US. But we will relay that information as soon as we have it, and will hope readers of this blog who have sufficient Spanish will read it. And we look forward to a long future with Dr. Euraque's voice speaking clearly about issues of culture and politics in Honduras.

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