The Mexican Revolution: Literature as a Medium of Protest?!

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Rebecca Kaewert


Social tensions as a result of unequal distribution of resources and land, political instability following the Mexican Revolution and agrarian reforms to alleviate the massive impoverishment of the rural population. These aspects are appropriated in El Llano en llamas (Juan Rulfo, 1953). More shocking is that the abuses described in Rulfo’s work continue into the 21st century, as the report Mexico rural en el siglo XXI (2018) clearly shows that the causal link between poverty, inequality of opportunity, structural discrimination, and spatial marginalization in rural Mexico remains virulent.
In my article, I would like to take the example of the 17 short stories in El Llano en llamas (Juan Rulfo, 1953) to examine the literary appropriation of the precarious situation of the Mexican rural population and the forms of protest during the Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1920).
In order to relate El Llano en llamas (1953) to current extra – literary discourses on the situation of the Mexican rural population and a culture of protest, I proceed from an implicit moral function of Rulfo’s short stories. Accusation, criticism and protest are therefore not only to be understood as social phenomena, but also come into play in literary practice. To this end, I place Rulfo’s literary work in a tension between ethics – aesthetics – documentation. In order to make the literary – scientific per¬spective on these protests also relevant for interdisciplinary discourses, I will investigate the following questions:
What is the relationship between the narrative mediation and modelling of a space hostile to man and life and the selection of representative figures (land workers, landowners and revolutionaries) whose existence depends without exception on this country? How does the spatial rooting of the figures affect their possibilities for action and development? What social agenda does Rulfo pursue as an author when he gives a voice to figures who have hardly such an ability to articulate outside the literature? How are power and socio – economic hierarchies appropriated, reshaped and reflected in literary terms?

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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The Political Aesthetics of Agricultural Protest in the 21st Century