Exploring the Protest Language of Prose: Condemnations of the Totonicapán Massacre and The Diary of Bobby Sands

  • Mary Lynne Gasaway Hill


In this chapter, several pieces of protest prose, condemnations of the Totonicapán Massacre in Guatemala and the Diary of Bobby Sands from Northern Ireland, are examined within the deep stories of their particular production contexts of the electricity protests and “The Troubles”, respectively. Each piece of prose is then analyzed as a performative within the framework of the renovated felicity conditions, introduced in Chapter 2 based on Austin’s Speech Act Theory, for the speech act of protest. Each analysis focuses on the presuppositional conditions regarding convention, circumstance, words, persons, effects, and positionings, followed by the aspirational conditions with a focus on thoughts, intention, risk, commitment, and subsequent actions. These analyses include discussions of identity in terms of convocativity as well as how these speech acts attain pragmatic legitimacy through the fulfillment of the felicity conditions.

Works Cited

  1. ALMG. (2014). Molaj tzijob’al - Linguistic Communities. K’ulb’il Yol Twitz Paxil: Academia de Leguas Mayas de Guatemala. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  2. Althusser, L. (2001). Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (B. Brewster, Trans.). New York: Monthly Review.Google Scholar
  3. Alvarado, B. E. (2012). Nab’e wuj rech K’iche’ Cha’ab’al (Vol. 1). Guatemala City: ALMG.Google Scholar
  4. BBC. (2013, September 7). History/The Troubles. BBC. Retrieved September 7, 2013, from
  5. Beresford, D. (1994). Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike. London: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  6. Bressler, C. (2007). Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Bucholtz, M., & Hall, K. (2005). Identity and Interaction: A Sociolinguistic Approach. Discourse Studies, 7(4–5), 585–614. Google Scholar
  8. CAIN. (2013, September 9). CAIN Background Information on Northern Irish Society. Population and Vital Statistics. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from
  9. Camp, M. (2008, Winter). Guatemala: Whose Woods These Are. Cultural Survival. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  10. Casey, J. K. (2013, September 11). Poems Inspired by War and Conflict. War Poetry. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from
  11. Clarke, L. (2013, November 7). Tina Mckenzie’s Openness About Her Dad’s IRA Past Shows She Is a Classy Act. The Belfast Telegraph.Google Scholar
  12. Clary-Lemon, J. (2010). ‘We’re Not Ethnic, We’re Irish!’: Oral Histories and the Discursive Construction of Identity. Discourse & Society, 21(1), 5–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Comunidades Lingüística Maya K’iche’. (2012, October 6). Communidad Linguistica Maya K’iche’. Facebook. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  14. Coogan, T. P. (1997). On the Blanket: The Inside Story of the IRA Prisoners’ ‘Dirty Protest’ (1st ed. 1980 & 2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Roberts Rinehart Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Cooperative for Education. (2014). Guatemala Poverty. Cooperative for Education. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from www.coeduc/org/guatemala/poverty.html.
  16. Crisis Group. (2013, February 6). Totonicapán: Tensions in Guatemala’s Indigenous Hinterland. Crisis Group. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  17. De Cillia, R., Reisigl, M., & Wodak, R. (1999). The Discursive Construction of National Identities. Discourse & Society, 10(2), 149–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Donnelly, J. (2011, February 17). The Irish Famine. BBC History. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from
  19. Foucault, M. (1984). The Foucault Reader (P. Rabinow, Ed.). New York: Pantheon for Random House.Google Scholar
  20. Government of Totonicapán. (2012, October 5). Pronunciamiento Publico Urgente. Associacio d’ Amistat amb el Poble de Guatemala. Retrieved March 31, 2015, from
  21. Guatemala Human Rights Commission. (2011). Resources Fast Facts. Guatemala Human Rights Commission. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  22. Guatemalan Human Rights Commission. (2012, October 18). GHRC Condemns Massacre in Totonicapán, Guatemala. Guatemalan Human Rights Commission. Retrieved January 8, 2018, from
  23. Hall, S. (1977). Culture, Media, and the “Ideological Effect”. In J. G. Curran (Ed.), Mass Communication and Society. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  24. International Crisis Group. (2012, July 20). Police Reform in Guatemala: Obstacles and Opportunities. International Crisis Group.Google Scholar
  25. International Justice Monitor. (2014, February 6). Guatemala’s Constitutional Court Calls for Pioneering Attorney General to Step Down Early. International Justice Monitor. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  26. Mannheim, B., & Tedlock, D. (1995). Introduction. In B. Mannheim & D. Tedlock (Eds.), The Dialogic Emergence of Culture (pp. 1–32). Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Google Scholar
  27. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1976). Collected Works (Vol. 5). New York: Lawrence and Wishart. Google Scholar
  28. Metress, S. (1995). Outlines in Irish History: Eight Hundred Years of Struggle. Detroit: Connolly Books.Google Scholar
  29. Miller, J. H. (2002). Promises, Promises: Speech Act Theory, Literary Theory, and Politico-Economic Theory in Marx and De Man. New Literary History, 33(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Minority Rights. (2008, July). World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. Minority Rights. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  31. Mulholland, M. (2003). Northern Ireland: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O’Brien, W. (1881, October 21). No Rent Manifesto. The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from
  33. Paley, D., & Watts, J. (2012, October 12). UK Owner of Guatemalan Energy Firm Urged to Act After Protest Deaths. The Guardian. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  34. Plaza Publica. (2012, February 17). Geografia de la violencia homicida. Universidad Rafael Landivar. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  35. PRESANCA II. (2011, May 26). Noticias Medios: Desnutricion en Totonicapán: 82%. PRESANCA II. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  36. Reyes, A. (2011). Strategies of Legitimization in Political Discourse: From Words to Actions. Discourse & Society, 22(6), 781–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ruiz-Goiriena, R. (2012, October 21). Soldiers’ Arrest Marks Shift in Guatemala. The Guardian. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from
  38. Sands, B. (2001). One Day in My Life. Blackrock, County Dublin: Mercier Press.Google Scholar
  39. Sands, B. (2013, September 9). Prison Diary. Bobby Sands Trust. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from
  40. Tacam, M. (2012, October 4). Represion estatal en Totonicapán. YouTube. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from
  41. Yeats, W. B. (1904). The King’s Threshold and on Baile’s Strand: Being Volume Three of Plays for and Irish Theatre. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved March 31, 2015, from
  42. Yeats, W. B. (n.d.). The Second Coming. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2015, from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English and Communication StudiesSt. Mary’s University, TexasSan AntonioUSA

Personalised recommendations