Latin American Studies
A balanced appraisal of the bitter debate surrounding the autobiography of Guatemala's 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
Guatemalan indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchú first came to international prominence following the 1983 publication of her memoir, I, Rigoberta Menchú, which chronicled in compelling detail the violence and misery that she and her people suffered during her country's brutal civil war. The book focused world attention on Guatemala and led to her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. In 1999, a new book by David Stoll challenged the veracity of key details in Menchú's account, generating a storm of controversy. Journalists and scholars squared off regarding whether Menchú had lied about her past and, if so, what that would mean about the larger truths revealed in the book.
In The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy, Arturo Arias has assembled a casebook that offers a balanced perspective on the debate. The first section of this volume collects the primary documents-newspaper articles, interviews, and official statements-in which the debate raged, many translated into English for the first time. In the second section, a distinguished group of international scholars assess the political, historical, and cultural contexts of the debate, and consider its implications for such issues as the "culture wars," historical truth, and the politics of memory. Also included is a new essay by David Stoll in which he responds to his critics.
Contributors: Luis Aceituno; Juan Jesús Aznárez; John Beverley, U of Pittsburgh; Allen Carey-Webb, Western Michigan U; Margarita Carrera; Duncan Earle, U of Texas, El Paso; Claudia Escobar Sarti; Claudia Ferman, U of Richmond; Dina Fernández García; Eduardo Galeano; Dante Liano, U of Milan; W. George Lovell, Queen's U, Canada; Christopher H. Lutz; Octavio Martí; Victor D. Montejo, UC Davis; Rosa Montero; Mario Roberto Morales, U of Northern Iowa; Jorge Palmieri; Daphne Patai, U of Massachusetts, Amherst; Mary Louise Pratt, Stanford U; Danilo Rodríguez; Ileana Rodríguez, Ohio State U; Larry Rohter; Carolina Escobar Sarti; Jorge Skinner-Kleé; Elzbieta Sklodowska, Washington U; Carol A. Smith, UC, Davis; Doris Sommer, Harvard U; David Stoll, Middlebury College; Manuel Vásquez Montalbán; and Kay B. Warren, Harvard U.
Arturo Arias is director of Latin American Studies at the University of Redlands.