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The 1928 Massacre of Banana Workers

On a now defunct website, Paul Wolf, a lawyer based in Washington, DC, posted a variety of declassified U.S. State Department cables on the 1928 massacre of banana workers in Ciénaga, Colombia. Although his website is now offline, all of the original documents that he collected can still be accessed here through web.archive.org.

I’ve written a chapter analyzing a photograph that United Fruit Company managers and the Colombian military used to identify the workers. That chapter, “The Photos We Don’t Get to See: Sovereignties, Archives, and the 1928 Massacre of Banana Workers in Colombia,” appears in Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialismedited by Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman (New York: New York University Press, 2015), pp. 104-136. Below, I post the memos that I found to be especially illuminating.

Teaching Students to Write Essays Using Primary Source Material

I’ve designed an exercise that asks students to use these documents to write their own critical interpretation of the past. You can download the assignment here. Feel free to use in your classes!

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