Showing posts from November, 2013

"A Historian's Manifesto" Draft 1

This summer I read through a collection of historians' essays on historical counterfactuals entitled The Collected What If?

I was particularly struck by how very little the "little" people of history appeared in the pages—the colonized, the lower classes, the disempowered. To be sure, counterfactuals are very easy to write if one seizes upon a "great man" of history and imagines that he died early, didn't attend a pivotal event, or merely made a different decision. Many—if not most—of the essays in the collection followed this pattern, and those that didn't focused on "great events" to much the same effect.

This observation prompted me to make a statement on thoughts I've had many times before—a manifesto, as it were:

Ciudad de México: Metro y Zócalo

Back on Saturday, October 27th, I left on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico for a history conference. I was terribly harebrained in the lead-up to leaving Ketchikan—and after I left. To wit, I forgot my passport when packing and my savior girlfriend had to bring it to the airplane. Then, after staying with cousins in Seattle, I forgot my phone with them.

The next day, however, I had quite the success in comparison to the previous screw-ups. I made a plan for what I'd see in la Ciudad de México (Mexico City) and I accomplished it entirely.

Pressure to Celebrate

Last week was the perfect week to visit Oaxaca: Everything was green after the rainy season, and I got to end of the week by watching Día de Muertos celebrations.

One realization I had, however, was that Oaxaca gets a lot of visitors for Día de Muertos—foreigners and other Mexicans. When I was out and about on the night of October 31, (a day before la Día really begins), there were multiple parades, musical performances, and a ton of tourists—again, both foreigners and other Mexicans. I realized that in order to keep those valuable visitors coming, Oaxaca has to keep doing Día de Muertos in a big way. It's an annual pressure to celebrate.