THE POLITICS AND
Testimonials today occupy an intermediate position between literature, the "new" ethnography in anthropology and sociology, personal narrative, and political biography. Because testimonials give voice to people whose experiences have been misrepresented or neglected they promise to convey a unique authenticity, authority, and truth. Yet testimonial creation, production, and consumption is also an inherently political process connecting a wide range of people across national, racial, ethnic, and class boundaries. What is this process actually like? What light can testimonials shed on social science, feminist theory, and political practice? What does it mean that testimonials of Latin American activists have been marketed largely to a middle-class western audience in the U.S. and Europe?
In the United States, testimonials have a history within Native American culture, African-American slave narratives, and family oral histories. Testimonials from Latin America have their origins in revolutionary movements. The notion of" testimony" expresses urgency, a story