Political Bodies: Gender, History, and the Struggle for Narrative Power in Recent Chilean Literature

Political Bodies: Gender, History, and the Struggle for Narrative Power in Recent Chilean Literature

Political Bodies: Gender, History, and the Struggle for Narrative Power in Recent Chilean Literature

Political Bodies: Gender, History, and the Struggle for Narrative Power in Recent Chilean Literature

Synopsis

"Political Bodies is one of the first studies to link recent developments in Latin American literature to the rise of new social movements in the late 1970s and 1980s. Focusing on literary works in the context of the Chilean women's movement and resistance to the Pinochet dictatorship, Alice Nelson contends that the recent struggle for narrative power in Chile has been a contest about gender ideologies. Furthermore, she argues that this contest has been enacted literally and figuratively on the stage of human bodies as sites of domination and resistance. Examining works by Pia Barros, David Benavente and the Taller de Investigacion Teatral, Ariel Dorfman, Diamela Eltit, and Isabel Allende, Political Bodies engages emergent feminist critiques of authoritarianism in terms of gender and class, history and language. Nelson persuasively argues that the cultural forms of resistance produced under Pinochet anticipated both the achievements and the shortcomings of Chile's democratic transition, from the late 1980s through the present Concertacion." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

ON 4 SEPTEMBER 1990, SALVADOR ALLENDE RECEIVED THE FUNERAL HE HAD BEEN denied on the day of the 1973 coup. After his shooting death in La Moneda, caused by military betrayal though he may have pulled the trigger himself, Allende’s corpse was unceremoniously deposited in an unmarked grave in Viña del Mar. The junta had hoped to erase Allende’s memory by leaving no name, no headstone that could become a monument to Unidad Popular [the Popular Unity coalition]. Seventeen years later, less one week, Allende’s remains were exhumed from their anonymous tomb and transported to Santiago for an official burial. The city was cordoned off to contain the crowds, the streets lined with metal barriers and uniformed officers. As I walked early that morning along the funeral route, I gradually became part of a sea of red and white carnations, banners of all sizes, memories voiced quietly or loudly. The flow of the crowd led past Morandé 80, the door through which Allende’s body had been removed, the door no longer in existence because Pinochet had walled it in, erased it from the official story, substituting for it “The Bunker” (a subterranean entrance named after Hitler’s). I was told that the funeral procession would go by that door, extant only in memory, “para cerrar el ciclo,” to complete this historical cycle. Eventually, I joined a group gathered at La pérgola San Pablo, a flower store on the corner of Avenida La Paz, the street leading to Santiago’s General Cemetery. There stood an arch of flowers placed to receive the procession, with the message, “Hasta siempre, compañero presidente” [Farewell, compañero president]. A modest-looking older woman whispered to me, “Me compro unas florcitas, y de aquí no me muevo” [I’ll buy myself a few flowers, then I’m not moving from this spot]. I nodded, clasping a single white carnation to the cold metal railing that separated the mourners from the guards.

As I stood there that day, caught up in the emotion of the event, I began to realize that Salvador Allende’s funeral was emblematic of the larger moment in Chilean history. It played out a widespread necessity to make . . .

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