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Chapter 4 begins by reading the textual traces of the relationship between José Sabino Uc (a Lacandón Indian boy) and his adopted father Karl Hermann Berendt (an influential linguist and archaeologist of Yucatán and Central America). This relationship raises the question of how indians from this period and region actively responded to the colonial tactic of reducción in the context of the Caste War. It then turns to letters from Maya leaders and combatants during the first decades of the war, which themselves respond to that tactic. Writing in Spanish and Yucatec Maya, the letters speculatively appropriate and repurpose the Creoles’ articulation of race, liberalism, and capitalism discussed in the previous chapter, offering an effective and ongoing reflection upon and practice of libertad. This practice offered a political poiesis—an imaginative remaking of living free on both quotidian and global scales, a living free unevenly connected to the very social formations from which it seeks to diverge.

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