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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mexican Lawlessness: Genocide and Massacre in Julián Herbert’s La casa del dolor ajeno

  • Author(s): Janzen, Rebecca
  • et al.

This article examines Julián Herbert’s La casa del dolor ajeno: crónica de un pequeño genocidio en La Laguna (2015), which deals with a massacre of 300 Chinese people in Torreón, Mexico, in 1911. This crónica in novelized form weaves together the history of Chinese immigration to Mexico with contemporary violence and the author’s own experiences of research and writing. I bring Herbert’s imaginative interpretation of the past into conversation with the Mexican Constitution and penal codes that were in force during the massacre, and at the time Herbert was writing. I compare his treatment of the initial reports to late 19th and early 20th-century ideas of a right to life, work and citizenship and relate his 21st-century reflections to 20th century concepts of genocide. The article concludes that this weaving together of past and present exposes the violence of capitalism that preys on vulnerable people.

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