Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Palikari: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre



THE DIASPORA AS A USABLE PAST FOR A NATION-IN-CRISIS: Media Readings of Palikari: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre (review essay)



The documentary Palikari: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre (2014, Nickos Ventouras) narrates one of the “bleakest and blackest” chapters in American labor history, the Ludlow Massacre.1 A hundred years earlier, on April 20, 1914, in Ludlow, Colorado, a strike for basic labor rights by exploited miners and their families, mostly immigrants, was violently ended by state militia. In the fight, the strikers’ tent colony was machine-gunned and burned to the ground, leaving over twenty people dead, including women and children. Louis Tikas (1886-1914), a Cretan immigrant and union organizer born Ilias Anastasios Spantidakis, was shot in the back in cold blood, as were two other strikers. Still considered a politically volatile event, in fact a dangerous past for the nation laying open the synergy of state and capital to brutally put down labor, Ludlow does not commonly find a place in celebratory official memory. Historians take note of its absence in public history textbooks. However, when Colorado inaugurated the Ludlow Centennial Commemoration in September 2013, a yearlong, statewide remembering of Ludlow, it marked a significant departure, adding an official seal so to speak to remembering what functions as an enduring symbol of working class struggle in the United States.2


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