The Granddaughters of Ixmucané: Guatemalan Women Speak


255 pages
ISBN 0-88961-169-6
DDC 305.42'097281





Reviewed by Ronald N. Harpelle

Ronald N. Harpelle is an assistant professor of history at the
University of Manitoba.


Emilie Smith-Ayala is a Canadian who has adopted the Guatemalan exile
community as her own. This collection comprises stories and articles by
women involved in the struggle for dignity and social justice in
Guatemala. These women represent a variety of working-class, peasant,
and revolutionary groups. They offer passionate appeals for justice
mixed with a clear analysis of Guatemala’s troubled past and present.

If the book has a weakness it is in the limited historical introduction
and the failure of the author to distinguish adequately between the
various groups and women who contributed. In the Guatemalan context, it
is significant to know the extent to which these women are divided along
ethnic, social, and political lines. The author does not explain who is
writing or what the organization she represents does at the community
level. Some organizations are more important than others, but
nonspecialists will not be able to identify them. Some operate openly in
Guatemala and others are in exile.

Nevertheless, this is an important contribution to a growing body of
literature on women, their organizations, and their participation in
Latin America. The book could be used for university-level instruction,
but not without a companion history of contemporary Guatemala.


Smith-Ayala, Emilie., “The Granddaughters of Ixmucané: Guatemalan Women Speak,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 13, 2024,