Mexican American Literature: The Politics of Identity

Mexican American Literature: The Politics of Identity

Mexican American Literature: The Politics of Identity

Mexican American Literature: The Politics of Identity

Synopsis

Providing an up-to-date critical perspective as well as a cultural, political and historical context, this book provides an excellent introduction to Mexican American literature, delivering readers the major novels, drama and poetry.

Excerpt

This study of Mexican American writing was first of all motivated by a more general interest in minority literatures of the USA. Like other minority groups, Mexican Americans have a rich and lengthy cultural and literary heritage from which to draw on in order to express their sense of self in the midst of what often appears to be an alienating American society. In order to explore the fullest range of Mexican American literary and political expression possible within the framework of a single study, I have chosen to focus on certain historical moments when issues of identity became central facets of Mexican American writing. During the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, writing by Mexican American women displayed such a concern with self-identity, a concern that was deeply rooted equally in their self-awareness as marginalised women of colour in the USA and in their awareness as women within their own profoundly masculinist Mexican American community. Additionally, writing from this period seemed to be inevitably related to that other period in contemporary history when the Mexican American community strongly articulated their sense of self and identity largely for political ends. The 1960s and early 1970s were the decades of Mexican American civil-rights protests, and a period in Mexican American history that saw a resurgence in cultural and political activity.

As such it was part of the wider radical climate of national political protests that took place in the USA during the 1960s and 1970s and should be viewed alongside the political activity of other ethnic groups such as the Native American movement and the Black Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. In a similar way to these groups Chicanos attempted to forge a unique collective identity and a socio-political programme based around that identity. Like their movements, el movimiento served a dual purpose, balancing support for the expansion of the democratic process through direct political action on the one hand, with a more separatist cultural nationalism on the other. In many respects it was a like-minded attempt to counter discrimination through a celebration of indigenous roots and organised political protests. Grouping themselves into organisations such as the UFW (United Farm Workers) in California and Texas, the Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Alliance of Free City States) in New Mexico, the Mexican . . .

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