Academic journal article Chasqui

Richard, Nelly. Masculine/Feminine: Practices of Difference(s)

Academic journal article Chasqui

Richard, Nelly. Masculine/Feminine: Practices of Difference(s)

Article excerpt

Richard, Nelly. Masculine/Feminine: Practices of Difference(s). Trans. Silvia R. Tandeciarz and Alice A. Nelson. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. 83 pp. ISBN 0-8223-3302-3; 0-8223-3314-7 (paper)

Richard, Nelly. The Insubordination of Signs; Political Change, Cultural Transformation, and Poetics of the Crisis. Trans. Alice A. Nelson and Silvia R. Tandeciarz. Durham: Duke UPO, 2004. 129 pp. ISBN 0-8223-3327-9; 0-8223-3339-2 (paper)

Sarto, Ana Del, Alicia Rios, and Abril Trigo. The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. 818 pp. ISBN 0-8223-3340-6; 0-8223-3328-7 (paper)

Girman, Chris. Mucho Macho; Seduction, Desire, and the Homoerotic Lives of Latin Men. New York: Harrington Park Press, an imprint of The Haworth Press, 2004. 415 pp. ISBN: 1-560-23502-0; 1-560-23503-9 (paper)

Brewster, Claire. Responding to Crisis in Contemporary Mexico; The Political Writers of Paz, Fuentes, Monsivais, and Poniatowska. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2005. 265 pp. ISBN 0-8165-2491-2.

Civantos, Christina. Between Argentines and Arabs; Argentine Orientalism, Arab Immigrants, and the Writing of Identity. Albany: State U of New York P, 2005. xiii, 269 pp. ISBN 0-7914-6601-9.

I have frequently complained in the review essays I have written on Latin American cultural studies/theory that gender is consistently absent as a category to be questioned, theorized, and deconstructed. Not only is the bibliography written mostly by men, but these scholars routinely fail to find it complelling to bring gender into the discussion. Surely, this is not because women are not welcome in the field: one assumes that most women scholars are still confining their focus of attention to various forms of, if not independent, at least separate feminist studies; and they are likely working off of the proposition that many of the issues of cultural studies investigated by their male counterparts are subsumed under feminism. While I am concerned that there are not more women scholars in the now multiple venues of cultural studies, I am more concerned at a masculinist voice that systematically elides gender.

The Chilean Nelly Richard is a significant exception, as essays signed by her to appear regularly in the venues of cultural studies, and her work is often (although perhaps not yet in the sort of de rigeur manner accorded to, say, Walter Mignolo). However, it is interesting to meditate on the statement she makes in Masculine/Feminine, in the sense that it is simply not enough to add women's names to an already discursive constituted history (29-30), but yet I would propose that is what happens when Richard is "added" to the prevailing, nongendered discourse of cultural studies. And in a sense that is what has happened with the two books published by Duke: if Duke's list of Latin American cultural studies is the most distinguished--certainly, the most respected--on the market, the publication of Richard's two books is a supplement to a fundamentally masculinist bibliography.

One can profitably read Richard in this context. Her brief monograph is a lucid exposition, point by point, as to how a proper investigation of gender construction must begin with an understanding of the principles of cultural criticism, how one must understand that writing does have gender and to pretend that it does not simply confirms the ideological sleight of hand of masculinism, that there is a difference between (essentializing, universalizing) feminine writing and (critical, deconstructive) feminist writing. She then proceeds to exemplify her position--which is nothing more nor less than the prevailing proposition of critical or radical feminism, although it is precisely the value of her writing that has served to naturalize it within whatever conversation is taking place in Spanish on the subject of cultural studies--by referring to a host of Chilean women artists who can most productively examined in terms of a feminist aesthetic. …

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