Doña María's Story: Life History, Memory, and Political Identity

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Duke University Press, 2000 - History - 316 pages
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In this remarkable book historian Daniel James presents the gripping, poignant life-story of Do a Mar a Rold n, a woman who lived and worked for six decades in the meatpacking community of Berisso, Argentina. A union activist and fervent supporter of Juan and Eva Per n, Do a Mar a's evocative testimony prompts James to analyze the promise and problematic nature of using oral sources for historical research. The book thus becomes both fascinating narrative and methodological inquiry.
Do a Mar a's testimony is grounded in both the local context (based on the author's thirteen years of historical and ethnographic research in Berisso) and a broader national narrative. In this way, it differs from the dominant genre of women's testimonial literature, and much recent ethnographic work in Latin America, which have often neglected historical and communal contextualization in order to celebrate individual agency and self-construction. James examines in particular the ways that gender influences Do a Mar a's representation of her story. He is careful to acknowledge that oral history challenges the historian to sort through complicated sets of motivations and desires--the historian's own wish to uncover "the truth" of an informant's life and the interviewee's hope to make sense of her or his past and encode it with myths of the self. This work is thus James's effort to present his research and his relationship with Do a Mar a with both theoretical sophistication and recognition of their mutual affection.
While written by a historian, Do a Mar a's Story also engages with concerns drawn from such disciplines as anthropology, cultural studies, and literary criticism. It will be especially appreciated by those involved in oral, Latin American, and working-class history.
 

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Contents

Memory and Monuments in Berissos Centro Civico
3
Dona Marias Testimony
29
Interpretive Essays
117
Listening in the Cold The Practice of Oral History in an Argentine Meatpacking Community
119
The Case of Maria Roldan and the Senora with Money Is Very Clear Its a Fable Stories Anecdotes and Other Performances in Dona Marias Testimony
157
Tales Told Out on the Borderlands Reading Dona Marias Story for Gender
213
A Poem for Clarita Ninas Burguesitas and WorkingClass Women in Peronist Argentina
244
Epilogue
281
Notes
299
Index
309
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Page 306 - Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981), especially the first and second chapters.

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About the author (2000)

Daniel James is Bernardo Mendel Professor of Latin American History at Indiana University. His previous books include Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class, 1946 1976 and The Gendered Worlds of Latin American Women Workers, also published by Duke University Press.

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