Rejection in Elena Poniatowska's
Hasta no verte, Jesœs m'o
ANA GARCÍA CHICHESTER
Testimonial literature is under fire. And not exclusively from the non-elite and indigenous subjects of ethnographic research but also from a number of ethnographers who have begun to question the ethics of their work, in particular the widely used method of collecting oral testimonios. Indeed, misgivings regarding the role that the intellectual/elite writer performs vis- à-vis his/her informant have persisted since testimonial literature first reappeared in the twentieth century. Although the genre of testimonial literature dates back to the chronicles of the colonial period that sought the representation of indigenous Americans, its reappearance in the latter part of the 1960s and 70s signaled a departure from the self-referentiality of art produced by many Latin American writers throughout those decades. Aside from the critique of boom literature as overly concerned with self- referentiality, Donald L. Shaw mentions “a conscious return to referentiality, to optimism, [ . . . ] to social commitment, ideology and protest [ ...] and the experience of exile” along with “some form of ethical collective project” and a commitment to “an ideal of social justice” among the features of many literary works produced after the mid-70s (19, 21). Indeed, the critique of postmodernism sets up a dichotomy between, on the one hand, “complex, anti-representational, value-leveling, high-culture forms of literature” and on the other, “simple, lineal, representational, value- affirming, 'popular' narrative forms like the testimonio,” defined as the non- fictional account of a non-elite subject transcribed by an intellectual/elite writer or ethnographer (Beverley in Tierney-Tello 79).
Many critics, however, have taken issue with the notion that literature can be either “simple” or “representational.” In his appraisal of Cuban