Lopez-Cabrales, Maria del Mar. la Pluma Y la Represion: Escritoras Contemporaneas Argentinas
Irwin, Amanda L., Chasqui
New York: Lang, 2000. 189 pp. ISBN 0-8204-4286-0
María del Mar López-Cabrales brings together the fundamental issues concerning Latin American feminism and writing within the context of the "Proceso de Reorganización Nacional" (as the 1976-83 military dictatorship was officially named). The text focuses on three main issues: an assessment of feminist theory and its significance for contemporary Latin American literature by women; a theoretical depiction of women's writing in Argentina that deals with life under an oppressive regime and its lasting effects; and finally, the convergence of the two in the analysis of specific works by Romanian-born novelist and short story writer Alina Diaconú.
López-Cabrales takes nothing for granted in her readers, and this is a valuable trait. She is careful to define her terminology and explain theoretical details from their origins, beginning in the first chapter with her excellent review of the foundations of Western feminist thought. This thorough approach to setting up the critical component of the text is crucial to the understanding of the important differences between the contexts of Western and Latin American feminisms, and it gives the reader clear and direct insight into López-Cabrales's ideological perspectives.
The second chapter begins with a concise analysis of the social mechanisms of power and the ways in which they function within the specific contexts of oppressive government and patriarchal society. The author goes on to illustrate the politics of the body in women's activism in Latin America, thus forging the connection between feminine political experience and texts written by women in Argentina under dictatorships. López-Cabrales points out that attention to discourse centered on the body and power in women's narrative in Argentina, both during and after the Proceso, is crucial to the understanding of the history of a country in crisis (57).
In the third chapter, López-Cabrales connects the body/power dynamic from the previous chapter to the theme of desire, which in turn is analyzed in relation to the concept of space in the fourth and final chapter. Some of the most significant contributions of the book can be found in the interviews with the writers María Esther Vázquez, Leonor Calvera, Laura Nicastro, Mabel Pagano, Hebe Uharte, Liliana Heer, Liliana Díaz Mindurry, María Rosa Lojo, Belén Gache, and Esther Cross. These interviews focus on the female subject and the representation of desire within the context of the Proceso. Desire is understood here as originating from fantasy and dreaming and is viewed as sexual desire as well as the desire to understand history, to change reality, to undo painful experiences (i.e. disappearance, torture, death of loved ones), to escape, and to subvert the patriarchal order. Ultimately, in its literary representation, López-Cabrales considers desire as a response to power that leads to an understanding and analysis of social reality. …