Lynn StephenDec 29, 2021
Stories That Make History
Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas
Duke University Press 2021
Elena Poniatowska is a legendary Mexican journalist who has chronicled popular celebrities, politicians as well as important social movements in Mexico since the 1968 Tlatelolco students massacre.
Today I talked to Lynn Stephen, a professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon who has described in her book Stories That Make History: Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas (Duke UP, 2021) how Poniatowska’s personal and political trajectory intertwined with Mexico’s growing critical public after 1968. The earthquake of 1985, the Chiapas uprising and Subcomandante Marcos as well as the recent occupation of the Zócalo in Mexico City are in Stephen’s words “historical moments when the status quo is cracked open, when people take to the streets and demand change, when another future seems possible”. These are the moments when gifted writers and artists step up and document movements and create new historical actors.
We might have read Elena Poniatowska but we didn't know her. Lynn Stephen has reflected on the beautiful and strong parts of this woman who beat the odds in her own life to rewrite Mexican history.
Minni Sawhney is a professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Delhi.