Conflicts of Interest: The Letters of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton

Conflicts of Interest: The Letters of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton

Conflicts of Interest: The Letters of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton

Conflicts of Interest: The Letters of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton

Synopsis

Letters. Latino/Latina Studies. Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, the recently discovered nineteenth-century novelist, broke many of the boundaries that circumscribed the life of both women and Hispanics in the southwestern territories of the United States. Not only was she the first Hispanic novelist to write in English, but her courage and resolve took her into the circles of governmental and financial power where very few women had tread before. This volume is as complete a collection of the Ruiz de Burton letters as is possible, given the imperfect historical record. Included are various personal and business documents and a collection of articles about her and her family.

Excerpt

By all rights María Amparo Ruiz de Burton was an extraordinarily talented woman. a writer with a critical voice addressing crucial issues of race and ethnicity, political power, gender, and class, at a binational level, she led a problematic life full of conflicts and contradictions. Her life interests us to the degree that it maps the obstacles in the playing field, never level for women and minorities, whether in the nineteenth century or now. It is her differential circumstances—those circumstances of ethnicity, class, gender, and culture that constrained her agency—and her particular efforts and failures to militate against them, that particularly intrigue us in looking at her correspondence and reading it against her fiction and other writings. Her negotiations and maneuverings within the economic and cultural sphere were limited not only by these differential circumstances but by the specific historical moment itself, that is, the socioeconomic and political boundaries within which she lived. Breaking boundaries between public and private spheres, or squeezing the maximum leverage possible within political and economic structures was a lifetime battle for Ruiz de Burton (MARB). Finding that the various sites entailed varying power relationships and constraints, which both enabled and circumscribed her field of action, marb showed herself to be especially adept at exposing, prying open, and using rivaling regimes of power. Turning even mechanisms of subjection to one’s relative advantage constitutes the “tretas del débil” (the wiles of the weak) played out in MARB’s engagement with legal tenets and dominant discourses. of course, “working the system” against itself is a dangerous gambit; it carries the risk (as our work on marb here . . .

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