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Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalansby David Stoll
Synopses & Reviews
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.
An orphaned Guatemalan schoolgirl became the spokeswoman for a defeated guerrilla movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize. But the validity of her account of the violence that destroyed her family and village was later questioned, and this work compares her account with those of other survivors.
"Rigoberta Menchú is a living legend, a young woman who said that her odyssey from a Mayan Indian village to revolutionary exile was the story of all poor Guatemalans.” By turning herself into an ever"
"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 und"
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 Menchu, aroused so much sympathy that she won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. Like the Che Guevara legend, the imagery surrounding Rigoberta Menchu 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 Rigoberta's 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.
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.
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