Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory: Nationalist Performance of Nicaragua and Guatemala adds to a growing and timely body of work on nationalist drama. Examining important twentieth-century plays that few people have written about in English, E. J. Westlake analyzes the phenomenon of nation as performance by focusing on the definition of a people, national metaphors, and the uses of national history.
Westlake discerns the common characteristics that constitute nationalist plays, a genre that seeks to legitimate the nature of a nation by defining its boundaries, race, language, citizens, and history. Particularly relevant in an era influenced by imperialism, migration, and globalization, the volume probes the concepts of nation and nationalism in the context of postcolonial literary and performance theory.
Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory covers the political and theatrical history of Nicaragua and Guatemala. Westlake examines how the blending of races factors into nationalism with a look at the play El tren amarillo by Manuel Galich and uses Nobel laureate Miguel Ángel Asturias’s Soluna to show how nationalists appropriate Mayan culture to create a sense of the Guatemalan people and culture. She discusses the mapping of history as a linear progression in Alan Bolt’s Banana republic and as a cycle of patricide in Por los caminos van los campesinos by Pablo Cuadra. Westlake also suggests that Rolando Steiner’s La noche de Wiwilí, a play taken from an eyewitness account, acts as a site of official national memory, and she examines as well the canonizing of the folk ballet El Güegüence to further explore the notion of sites of memory versus lived memory.
Raising essential questions about the future of nationalism and nationalist performance, Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory will be of interest to scholars and students in drama, Latin American theatre studies, political science, and history.