In this remarkable book historian Daniel James presents the gripping, poignant life-story of Dona Maria Roldan, 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 Peron, Dona Maria 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.
Dona Maria 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 Dona Maria 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 Dona Maria with both theoretical sophistication and recognition of their mutual affection.
While written by a historian, "Dona Maria 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."
Do+¦a Mar+¡a's Story
Duke University Press
Life History, Memory, and Political Identity
Latin America Otherwise