Testimonio as counter-propaganda: a comparative analysis of Latin-American women's testimonial literature

Mason, Sofia Sandina Maniscalco (2014) Testimonio as counter-propaganda: a comparative analysis of Latin-American women's testimonial literature. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis creates a gendered typology of women’s testimonio that foregrounds the Cold War context of the genre. This new perspective reveals that contrary to the assertions of some critics, the texts struggle to convey a unitary propagandic message. Rather, their prime purpose is to counter hegemonic discourse. Yet, far from being unliterary or impersonal, they impart much personal information using a diversity of stylistic devices.

The testimonios challenge the profoundly gendered national security discourse of their own governments and the US. The argument that brutal counter-insurgency tactics, widespread incarceration and torture, were necessary to combat “communist-inspired” insurgency is invalidated by these testimonios which replace dichotomising and reductionist Cold War propaganda with accounts of the local, subjective and personal reasons for political involvement. The texts disclose the potentially traumatising lived consequences of US foreign policy and national security strategies to reveal their disproportionate and excessive nature. However, the testimonialistas’ sense of a greater purpose, collective identity and belonging to a wider community enables them to remain resilient in spite of adverse experiences.

Despite their loyalty to utopian and egalitarian ideals, sexism from within leftist movements and governments is exposed and denounced by the female protagonists as patriarchal institutions, traditions and gendered identities are consistently undermined. Latin American women, as guerrilleras, organisers and members of peasant and indigenous communities, present themselves as defiant protagonists who, aside from the male-dominated master narratives of the superpowers, demonstrate the strength of their political agency, psychological resilience and ideological convictions.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Davies, C.
Kapcia, A.M.
Subjects: P Language and literature > PQ Romance literatures > PQ6001 Spanish literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Item ID: 14199
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2015 13:55
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 03:32
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/14199

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