By analyzing testimonial writing, works of fiction, and critical theory, Joanna R. Bartow examines the self-representation of testimonial subjects. She questions limits on reading testimonio that until recently have delegitimated the testimonial subject's autonomy. In addition, Bartow shows the importance of a feminist perspective on testimonio, a perspective met with some resistance. In specific ways, feminist theory sheds light on the construction of the testimonial subject, and testimonial writing highlights questions of agency across differences in feminist theory. Subject to Change does not approach testimonial writing as raw material for theory, but rather reads Latin American testimonio--and the testimonial speaking subject--as an equally sophisticated interlocutor in debates on difference.
Bartow explores theories of violence, sacrifice, displacement, nomadism, and female identity through works by Rigoberta Menchu, Carolina Maria de Jesus, Elena Poniatowska, Clarice Lispector, and Diamela Eltit.