Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature

Synopsis

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literatureexamines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of an indigenous strand of Chicano cultural politics. In particular, this book exposes the ethnographic and poetic discourses that shaped the aesthetics and stylistics of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism. Contreras offers original perspectives on writers ranging from Alurista and Gloria Anzaldúa to Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alma Luz Villanueva, effectively marking the invocation of a Chicano indigeneity whose foundations and formulations can be linked to U. S. and British modernist writing.

By highlighting intertextualities such as those between Anzaldúa and D. H. Lawrence, Contreras critiques the resilience of primitivism in the Mexican borderlands. She questions established cultural perspectives on "the native," which paradoxically challenge and reaffirm racialized representations of Indians in the Americas. In doing so, Blood Linesbrings a new understanding to the contradictory and richly textured literary relationship that links the projects of European modernism and Anglo-American authors, on the one hand, and the imaginary of the post-revolutionary Mexican state and Chicano/a writers, on the other hand.

Excerpt

Chicana/o indigenism draws from a wealth of source material, directly and indirectly, acknowledged and unacknowledged, creating cultural narratives that rely prominently on mythic accounts drawn from anthropology and archaeology. This study is about the complications and paradoxes of Chicana/o literary indigenism, most especially this reliance on the mythic. Focusing on Chicana/o critical discourse as it is articulated in the academy, fction, poetry, and essay, Blood Lines examines a uniquely Chicana/o practice of valorizing the Indian. At the same time that I set out the distinct character of Chicana/o literary indigenism, I also place these writings within the context of dominant narratives of the Indian in the Americas, including Anglo-American and European modernist primitivism and the indigenismo of the post-revolutionary Mexican state. Made possible by the “techniques of knowledge” and “strategies of power” (Spivak, “Subaltern” 274) that previously assured subaltern silence, Chicana/o indigenism must be understood as yet another stage in the history of the representation of Indians.

Even as Chicana/o indigenist discourse puts forth its critiques of racial domination, colonial violence, and land removal, it remains embedded within the very “circuits” of knowledge and power that have advanced imperialist agendas. Gayatri Spivak calls it the “imbrication of techniques of knowledge with strategies of power” (“Marginality” 59), suggesting that modes of learning and claims of knowledge are informed by discourses of control and domination. Stuart Hall provides additional useful instruction on this topic as he addresses the question of cultural identity and representation. Challenging the simple binary of the Présence Aficaine and the Présence Européenne in the Afro-Caribbean, he argues that the two are never exclusive, instead existing as mutually informing and transforming.

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