Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas: Repression and Resistance in Chicana and Mexicana Literature

Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas: Repression and Resistance in Chicana and Mexicana Literature

Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas: Repression and Resistance in Chicana and Mexicana Literature

Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americas: Repression and Resistance in Chicana and Mexicana Literature

Synopsis

Weaving strands of Chicana and Mexicana subjectivities,Toward a Latina Feminism of the Americasexplores political and theoretical agendas, particularly those that undermine the patriarchy, across a diverse range of Latina authors. Within this range, calls for a coalition are clear, but questions surrounding the process of these revolutionary dialogues provide important lines of inquiry. Examining the works of authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Laura Esquivel, Carmen Boullosa, and Helena María Viramontes, Anna Sandoval considers resistance to traditional cultural symbols and contemporary efforts to counteract negative representations of womanhood in literature and society. Offering a new perspective on the oppositional nature of Latina writers, Sandoval emphasizes the ways in which national literatures have privileged male authors, whose viewpoint is generally distinct from that of women-a point of departure rarely acknowledged in postcolonial theory. Applying her observations to the disciplinary, historical, and spatial facets of literary production, Sandoval interrogates the boundaries of the Latina experience. Building on the dialogues begun with such works as Sonia Saldivar-Hull'sFeminism on the Borderand Ellen McCracken'sNew Latina Narrative, this is a concise yet ambitious comparative approach to the historical and cultural connections (as well as disparities) found in Chicana and Mexicana literature.

Excerpt

I myself invent time by first conjuring up the
voices and spirits of the women living under
brutal repressive regimes … [b]ecause I want to
do justice to their voices. To tell these women,
in my own gentle way, that I will fight for them,
that they provide me with my own source of
humanity
.

HELENA MARÍA VIRAMONTES

I, like Helena María Viramontes, wish to give voice to the women who, for whatever reasons, cannot tell their stories. I realize that it is a privilege (although it should be a right) in what I define as my communities to have access to language and the written word. This realization carries with it many responsibilities and many gifts. So it is not only for myself that I have committed to do cultural work as a scholar and educator.

While working on this project, I have often thought of my sister Rebecca as my audience. She is not formally trained in literature nor is she an academic. She is, however, a woman who shares many similarities with the important women I write about.

I also wish to make historically marginalized theory accessible to undergraduates, including my own students. I see this work as belonging to those whom I define as my community and as a welcome to those who have a desire to engage in a dialogue about Chicana and Mexicana literature.

The challenge of connecting the community and the acad-

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