Folkloristics & Guatemala

Mon, 20 Jun 1994 12:16:15 -0800

Re Stephanie Wilson's posting on rumors in Guatemala about Americans
stealing children (to sell their body parts, I believe the rumor
goes), I would like to mention a point I recall from a class taught
by Alan Dundes at UC Berkeley (sorry, don't know any other
reference). Dundes was telling us about rumors in the Middle Ages
(?) in Europ;e, that Jews were stealing Christian babiees and
using them in blood sacrifices. Dundes' analysis, as a folklorist,
(and as best as I recall it seven or eight years later) was that
since the Christians were suffering stres (I can't recall the whole
argument, perhaps the plague?) [and, of course, so were the Jews},
they projected their feelings onto a scapegoat group. My aplogies
to Dundes, and to Freud, as I have surely butchered the wording
of the interpretation, but I do see a parallel with the Guatemalan
case. It is not *impossible* that someone would steal a baby to
sell its body parts, however revolting the idea is. The interesting
thing about it, I think, is that it is an expression of real
feelings of stress and strain felt by some of the Guatemalans, and
which occur in a social setting in which it *makes sense* to them
that this could be something that Norte Americanos would do.

Mea culpa all around. All errors are my own. This is my first posting
to anthro-l. --roy--
Roy Iutzi-Mitchell
Bethel, Alaska