“Dar Testimonio” as a Form of Solidarity and a Lens for Rethinking the Mexican Literary Canon

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This chapter reconsiders mid-century Mexican literary history through the lens of the concept of bearing witness (“dar testimonio”). Taking speeches by Rosario Castellanos and Miguel Angel Asturias as its starting point, the chapter argues that the idea of bearing witness and expressing solidarity with marginalised groups shaped Latin American and specifically Mexican literature in the period 1930-1980. Looking again at the Mexican canon in this period from this fresh perspective an overlooked tradition of women authors emerges. These women write out of solidarity with and to bear witness to the experiences and sufferings of less privileged others. Women authors are often grouped together on the basis of their gender. Yet, this chapter identifies alternative connections between better known Mexican women authors such as Elena Poniatowska, Nellie Campobello and Rosario Castellanos and others who are less often the focus of critical attention including Benita Galeana, Carlota O’Neill, Ascensión Hernández de León-Portilla, Elvira Vargas. Focusing on the act of bearing witness brings to the fore the contributions of women authors and the connections between them as well as encouraging us to consider alternative ways of writing literary history based on new categories and periodizations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLatin American Literature in Transition 1930-1980
EditorsAmanda Holmes, Par Kumaraswami
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781009188777
Publication statusPublished - 07 Dec 2022

Publication series

NameLatin American Literature in Transition
PublisherCambridge University Press


  • testimonio
  • women's writing
  • Mexico
  • Rosario Castellanos
  • Benita Galeana
  • Elena Poniatowska
  • Nellie Campobello
  • Carlota O'Neill
  • Ascensión Hernández de León-Portilla
  • Elvira Vargas
  • Canon Formation
  • Literature


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