I, Rigoberta Menchú: When Literature and Politics Collide
Rigoberta Menchú has been called everything from saint to fraud, opportunist to savior of the poor and downtrodden. One thing is certain. She is an accomplished political activist, whose often maligned autobiograpahy, I, Rigoberta Menchú, may well have saved countless Guatemalans and others from unspeakable abuse at the hands of a system that, for half a millennium, victimized indigenous and marginalized peoples. For those efforts she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Little controversy revolves around Rigoberta’s prowess as a political activist; and most would agree that she was a suitable recipient of the Quincentennial Peace Prize. It is the inclusion of her purported autobiography in high school and college curricula that continues to motivate controversy among educators, social scientists and others. This paper will examine I, Rigoberta Menchú from various disciplinary perspectives, principally history and literature, to determine where, if at all, it belongs in the Liberal Arts corpus.
Keywords: History, Literature, Latin American Studies, Native American Culture, Feminism/Women's Literature, Guatemala
Prof. Barbara Brodman
Professor, Humanities, Nova Southeastern University