Redemption's Archive: Remembering the Future in a Revolutionary Past
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

While Alice brushed the White Queen’s tousled hair, the monarch offered her employ as a lady’s maid for a salary of two pence a week, along with a regular ration of jam. As Lewis Carroll relates in Through the Looking Glass, Alice was disinclined to accept in any case. Nonetheless, she grew disturbed when the White Queen informed her that the offered jam was only to be given “every other day”—that is, only “yesterday” and “tomorrow” but never “today.” Alice immediately realized that she would never receive jam on the series of “todays ” that she worked but rather could only enjoy the expectation of receiving it in the future or perhaps the memory of having received it previously. In response to Alice’s questions about the proposed arrangement, the White Queen attributed her confusion to the “effect of living backwards,” a prospect that “always makes one a little giddy at arst.” The White Queen explained that Alice lived “forwards” and was thus condemned to remember only “backwards.” The White Queen, on the other hand, lived “backwards” and could remember “both ways,” informed by a previous experience both of the future and of the past. The monarch was so conadent of her faculties that she had the King’s Messenger sent to prison for punishment in advance of his trial and sentencing . “Of course,” the White Queen explained, “the crime comes last of all.”1 Despite the strangeness of Carroll’s tale, the White Queen’s prophetic memory ands many parallels outside Wonderland. In modernizing regimes, notably in times of revolutionary political and social change, the invocation of the future becomes a preeminent theme of political discourse. The claims of governing parties and agures to the power to remember both ways transform the politics of collective memory, redeaning the recollection of the past and its events and traditions in relation to an imagined future. Even the present may be understood as a moment of rupture, an intelligible transition between a superseded past and an emergent future, guided by political leaders who claim the privilege of knowing the shape that future will take. Whether under socialist or capitalist auspices, the historical experiences of schemes of authoritarian modernization evoke other elements of Carroll ’s tale as well. Claims to privileged knowledge of the future and, effectively, to the ability to remember both ways provide alibis for the failure to realize utopian ideals in the present and justiacations for the deferral of their fulallment to an indeanite future.2 Such claims and alibis were common currency among revolutionary leaders in Yucatán in the early years of the Mexican Revolution (1910–17). In the mid-nineteenth century a massive indigenous rebellion led to the destruction of most commercial agriculture in Yucatán, particularly the sugar plantation economy of the southeast. Decades of conbict and population loss throughout the state left regional elites in a fragile position, unable to consolidate political control over the peninsula or to 301 ⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮⟮ Redemption’s Archive Remembering the Future in a Revolutionary Past Paul K. Eiss ⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯⟯ It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards. —the White Queen, Through the Looking Glass reestablish a stable source of income and state revenues.3 From the 1870s, however, Yucatecan elites seemed to have found their salvation in henequen, a spiny plant whose aber was used in the production of rope and cordage. With westward expansion in the United States, the demand for aber increased along with its price, and the invention of decorticating machinery facilitated largescale production. The future of the peninsula, and the conclusive victory of Hispanic “civilization” over indigenous “barbarism,” seemed to depend on the fortunes of the emerging henequen hacienda economy.4 During the reign of Mexican president Porario Díaz (1876–1911), henequen monoculture expanded throughout northwestern Yucatán, producing a bonanza of proats for planters and the state. Confronted by the difaculties of satisfying the labor demands of the burgeoning regional henequen economy, local elites and the state government set in place a legally sanctioned system of debt servitude to force Maya-speaking populations to work on the haciendas. Though a thoroughly contemporary institution, the system of indigenous debt servitude was infamous in Mexico and abroad as an antiquated form of “Indian slavery” that marked Yucatán as a “feudal ” backwater of the nation.5 Even after the fall of Díaz in 1911, and amid the onset of civil war throughout Mexico and several insurgencies in the Yucatán peninsula , Yucatecan...


pdf