Telltale Stories from Central America: Cultural Heritage, Political Systems, and Resistance in Developing Countries

ISBN 10: 0826322972 / ISBN 13: 9780826322975
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Synopsis: Race relations are key to understanding Central America's political and social development. To gather data on that topic, Stone turned to an unusual source: 118 stories passed from generation to generation. By collecting and studying folktales and legends from the five countries of Central America, he examines the values and beliefs that forge a people's sense of themselves or their consciousness.

Stone also examines how Indians, the mestizos, and ladinos in Central America view themselves and the governments that rule them. By studying stories told throughout the region, he documents the mutual resentment among Indians, mestizos, ladinos, and whites. He assesses how each country in Central America has or has not faced up to its racial problems. He concludes that the existence of both authoritarian and democratic regimes throughout the region is directly related to the ways in which each country has handled these problems.

"Stone argues that in what he calls the mentalité of the peoples of Central America there are marked differences that vary from south to north, and that these can be traced to the differing historical modes of political governance and economic exploitation. So far as I know, Stone's approach is all but unknown in Central Americanist literature. . . . In the best of worlds, his book should start a debate of the kind that followed on the national character propositions of a half-century ago."--Richard N. Adams, Professor Emeritus, University of Texas

About the Author: Samuel Z. Stone received a state doctorate from the Sorbonne. He is director of CIAPA, a social sciences institute for research and publishing on problems affecting development in Central and South America, and he has written extensively on the political history of Central America.

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