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Landlords and the Devil: Class, Ethnic, and Gender Dimensions of Central American Peasant Narratives

Essay Excerpt

This essay examines oral narratives about devil pacts from northern Costa Rica, with a particular focus on those concerning one large landowner prominent from the early 1900s to the 1940s. The article has several objectives: (1) it evaluates, in terms of both narrative content and historical context, the thesis that such stories are primarily or solely a product of a transition to a wage-labor- based agrarian capitalism; (2) taking the tales themselves as social practices, it poses as problems, not only their analysis as texts or as expressions of a specific mentalite, but why they adhere only to particular individuals, why they persist over time, and why their imagery is frequently so similar in widely separated times and places; and (3) employing both oral and published accounts, it briefly explores other rural Central American beliefs about the diabolic realm in order to develop a broader framework for understanding the devil-contract stories (60).

Edelman, M. "Landlords and the Devil: Class, Ethnic, and Gender Dimensions of Central American Peasant Narratives." Cultural Anthropology 9.1(1994): 58–93.

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