Crucifixion stories, the 1869 Caste War of Chiapas, and negative consciousness: a disruptive subaltern study



In this article I apply the methodology of the Subaltern Studies group, especially Ranajit Guha's theory of negative consciousness, to an instance of indigenous insurgency in Mesoamerica. During the Caste War of Chiapas, 1867–69, the Maya apparently crucified a boy and, emboldened by this “Indian Christ,” they swept out of the hills killing non-Indians indiscriminately. I argue not only that Guha's “elementary aspects of peasant insurgency” (1983) aid in understanding the ferocious mimesis of the Mayan crucifixion, but also that the Caste War has a disruptive history that challenges theories of resistance as well as the relation of the historian and the ethnographer to the subaltern and to the “colonizer” subject.