Gendered Geographies in Puerto Rican Culture: Spaces, Sexualities, Solidarities

Gendered Geographies in Puerto Rican Culture: Spaces, Sexualities, Solidarities

Gendered Geographies in Puerto Rican Culture: Spaces, Sexualities, Solidarities

Gendered Geographies in Puerto Rican Culture: Spaces, Sexualities, Solidarities


This is a critical study of the construction of gendered spaces through feminine labor and capital in Puerto Rican literature and film (1950-2010). It analyzes gendered geographies and forms of emotional labor, and the possibility that they generate within the material and the symbolic spaces of the family house, the factory, the beauty salon and the brothel. It argues that by challenging traditional images of femininity texts by authors and film directors like Rosario Ferre, Carmen Lugo Filippi, Magali Garcia Ramis, Mayra Santos-Febres, Sonia Fritz and Ana Maria Garcia, among others, contest the official Puerto Rican cultural nationalist discourse on gender and nation, and propose alternatives to its spatial tropes through feminine labor and solidarities.

The book's theoretical framework encompasses recent feminist geographers' conceptualizations of the relationship between space and gender, patriarchy, knowledge, labor and the everyday. It engages with the work of Gillian Rose, Rosemary Hennessy, Doreen Massey, Patricia Hill Collins, and Katherine McKittrick, to argue that spaces are instrumental in resisting intersecting oppressions, in subverting traditional national models and in constructing alternative imaginaries. By introducing Caribbean cultural production and Latin American thought to the concerns of feminist and cultural geographers, it recasts their understanding of Puerto Rico as a neo-colonial space that urges a rethinking of gender in relation to the nation.


Marina Esbozó una sonrisa victoriosa. a paso fir
me, entró en el aposento de doña Georgina. Fu
migó el cuarto con una aroma a melancolía deses
perada (lo había recogido del cuerpo de su padre)
que revolcó por sábanas y armarios. […] El apo
sento de la patrona olía a recuerdo de sueños
muertos que aceleraban las palpitaciones del cora
zón. La casa entera despedía aromas inconexos,
desligados, lo que obligó a que nadie en el pueblo
quisiera visitar a los Velázquez nunca más.

“Marina y su olor,” Mayra Santos-Febres

At first sight, Mayra Santos-Febres’s story “Marina y su olor” is a fantastic narrative about a young woman who transforms emotions into scents, and emits them as a physical response to situations in her everyday life. On a metaphorical level, Marina’s talent gives her the ability to alter spaces (shops, family houses, city streets), to mark them, and to claim them as her own. It is through this fantastic gift that she attains the power to resist, subvert, and ultimately avenge racial, class and gender hierarchies that devalue her self and that deny her social agency. the image of a nation composed of the spaces appropriated and transformed by Marina’s body–the body of a working-class, Afro-Puerto Rican, independent woman in control of her own sexuality–no longer responds to the “modernist representations of the nation as a territorially grounded, linguistically uniform, racially exclusive, androcentric, and . . .

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