The Human Cost of Geopolitics: An Examination of Guatemalan Testimonial Literature

Ryan Denholm, Dr. José Bañuelos-Montes, Modern Languages Department, Roanoke College 221 College Ln. Salem, VA 24153

A coup in 1954 removed the president of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz, from the presidency. With support from the United States, Guatemala entered a dark period in its history where the military killed and raped civilians with impunity as part of a larger effort to destroy suspected communists. In reality, this crusade resulted in serious crimes that violated the human rights of indigenous people in the country. This paper asks: how can testimonial literature contribute to a greater understanding of these human rights atrocities? Using two novels of testimonial literature as case studies, Death of a Guatemalan Village (1999) and After the Bombs (1979), a clearer image of the events is sought. Death of a Guatemalan Village is the non-fiction story of Víctor Montejo, who was a teacher in an indigenous town during the genocide under President Efraín Ríos Montt in 1982. On the other hand, After the Bombs is a fictional novel that tells the story of the history of Guatemala from the perspective of a child, Máximo. With these two books, the human cost of geopolitics becomes clear.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Ryan Denholm

Institution: Roanoke College

Type: Poster

Subject: Linguistics & World Languages

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5554