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Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans

Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This book is about a living legend, a young Guatemalan orphaned by government death squads who said that her odyssey from a Mayan Indian village to revolutionary exile was “the story of all poor Guatemalans.” Published in the autobiographical I, Rigoberta Menchú, her words brought the Guatemalan armys atrocities to world attention and propelled her to the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. Five years later, as her countrys civil war ended and truth commissions prepared their reports, the Nobel laureate seemed to repudiate the life story that made her famous. “That is not my book,” she said, accusing its editor, Elisabeth Burgos, of distorting her testimony.Why the disclaimer? One reason was the anthropologist interviewing other violence survivors in her home town. In Rigoberta Menchú and The Story of All Poor Guatemalans, David Stoll uses their recollections and archival sources to establish a different portrait of the laureates village and the violence that destroyed it. Like the imagery surrounding Ché Guevara, Rigobertas 1982 story served the ideological needs of the urban left and kept alive the grand old vision of Latin American revolution. It shaped the assumptions of foreign human rights activists and the new multicultural orthodoxy in North American universities. But it was not the eyewitness account it purported to be, and enshrining it as the voice of the voiceless caricatured the complex feelings of Guatemalan Indians toward the guerrillas who claimed to represent them. At a time when Rigobertas people were desperate to stop the fighting, her story became a way to mobilize foreign support for a defeated insurgency.By comparing a cult text with local testimony, Stoll raises troubling questions about the rebirth of the sacred in postmodern academe. Far from being innocent or moral, he argues, organizing scholarship around simplistic images of victimhood can be used to rationalize the creation of more victims. In challenging the accuracy of a widely-hailed account of Third World oppression, this book goes to the heart of contemporary debates over political correctness and identity politics.

Book News Annotation:

Mench<'u>'s tale of her odyssey from being orphaned by death squads to political exile propelled her to the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. Since the end of the civil war, her story has been questioned. Stoll (anthropology, Middlebury College) assembles the evidence and finds the story important in the fight for human rights and multiculturalism, but not the eyewitness account she claimed. He warns that focusing on images of victims can lead to more victims.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

This book is about a living legend, an orphaned Guatemalan schoolgirl thrust into the role of spokeswoman for a defeated guerrilla movement. Her story about her life, family and village, published under the title I, Rigoberta Menchú, aroused so much sympathy that she won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. Like the Ché Guevara legend, the imagery surrounding Rigoberta Menchú served the ideological needs of the urban left. Her story also helped shape the assumptions of an era of human rights activism in Guatemala. But what old neighbors say about the violence that destroyed Rigobertas family and village is different from what appeared in her 1982 autobiography. By comparing her account with those of other violence survivors, this is a book that goes to the heart of contemporary debates over political violence/revolutionary movements, postmodernism and the ethics of scholarship.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 311-321) and index.

About the Author

David Stoll teaches anthropology at Middlebury College. His other books include Is Latin America Turning Protestant? and Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780813335742
Author:
Stoll, David
Publisher:
Westview Press
Location:
Boulder, Colo. :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Ethnic Studies
Subject:
Economic Conditions
Subject:
Mayas
Subject:
Guatemala
Subject:
Guatemala Ethnic relations.
Subject:
Women human rights workers.
Subject:
Quichâe women
Subject:
Anthropology - General
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
19981208
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Latin America » Guatemala

Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans
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Product details 368 pages Westview Press - English 9780813335742 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
This book is about a living legend, an orphaned Guatemalan schoolgirl thrust into the role of spokeswoman for a defeated guerrilla movement. Her story about her life, family and village, published under the title I, Rigoberta Menchú, aroused so much sympathy that she won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. Like the Ché Guevara legend, the imagery surrounding Rigoberta Menchú served the ideological needs of the urban left. Her story also helped shape the assumptions of an era of human rights activism in Guatemala. But what old neighbors say about the violence that destroyed Rigobertas family and village is different from what appeared in her 1982 autobiography. By comparing her account with those of other violence survivors, this is a book that goes to the heart of contemporary debates over political violence/revolutionary movements, postmodernism and the ethics of scholarship.

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