Battlegrounds and Crossroads: Social and Imaginary Space in Writings by Chicanas

Battlegrounds and Crossroads: Social and Imaginary Space in Writings by Chicanas

Battlegrounds and Crossroads: Social and Imaginary Space in Writings by Chicanas

Battlegrounds and Crossroads: Social and Imaginary Space in Writings by Chicanas

Excerpt

The task of coming to grips with the relationship between spatial representations and the social world they refer to can best be performed by embracing the concept of the borderlands as the metaphor for an interdisciplinary methodology. This approach will attempt to capture the variety of discourses to be found in this literature. We cannot understand the imaginary place of Anzaldúa's persona, la mestiza, if we do not frame it in the “real” borderland conflicts and discourses she has to face. Likewise, we will not grasp the significance of the spatial images in Chicana literature if it is not in relation to the competing gender, race, and class codes, the historical tensions between countries, social classes, and communities they allude to and/or seek to transform. An interdisciplinary approach like the one followed by cultural studies will make this critical task possible, as it is concerned with the relationship between cultural representations of any kind and the socio-political reality that they appropriate, change, and/ or continue to reproduce.

A short passage by the reputed Chicano critic Luis Leal indirectly alludes to the dilemmas and difficulties we may face when wanting to inscribe our work within a field that is still controversial in both sides of the Atlantic. The excerpt is taken from his work Aztlán y México (1985), where he traces the historical and social conditions that have made the images and symbols of Aztlán and México recurrent in what he calls the Chicano “literatura de frontera” (63):

La mente humana, cuando tiene el presagio de la existencia de una cosa,
antes de conocerla, la inventa; esto es, crea una imagen con la cual le dé
cierta realidad. La imagen creada y la realidad casi nunca coinciden . . .

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