En busca de la solidaridad: feminismo y nación en el Caribe hispano, 1880-1940
My dissertation delves into the interrelations between feminism and nationalism during periods of political, economic and social crisis associated with the influence of the United States over the Caribbean nations. I especially focus on the writings of Cubans Ofelia Rodríguez Acosta and Ofelia Domínguez, Puerto Ricans Ana Roqué, Carmela Eulate Sanjurjo, Luisa Capetillo, and Ricarda López, and Dominicans Ercilia Pepín, Abigaíl Mejía, Petronila Gómez, and Consuelo Montalvo. Although the metaphor of "motherhood" has been considered the most important concept in the discourses promoted by nationalist feminism, I argue that, in the context of the Caribbean region, the notion of solidarity provides an ideology that fits into the nationalist agenda, allowing feminists to engage in the political dialogue of the time. From the 1880s to the 1940s, feminist writers of the Hispanic Caribbean created literary works and published newspaper articles that proposed an idea of unity among women conceived initially to gain support for their feminist crusade, but that was afterwards broadened to plead for a national solidarity essential to ensure the future of their nations. To explain the development of the discourse of solidarity I first examine how the narrative structure and the relationship between female characters in short stories such as Carmela Eulate Sanjurjo's "Marido y mujer" and "Noche-Buena," and novels such as Ana Roqué's Luz y sombra and Sara la obrera, Ofelia Rodríguez Acosta's El triunfo de la débil presa and La vida manda, and Abigaíl Mejía'sSueña Pilarín underscore the significance of an alliance among women or the disadvantages of its absence. Then, I analyze fiction and newspaper articles that deal with the colonial situation of Puerto Rico, the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic in 1916, and Gerardo Machado's dictatorship in Cuba to explore how feminists endow their plea for female unity with nationalist overtones. I conclude that, using a multi-layered discourse, the nationalist feminists produced a vision of society in which the social and political empowerment of women was necessary to construct and uphold a cohesive nation capable of assuming its future as a modern, civilized and productive country. The image of a coherent nation integrated by its entire social and racial constituents allowed women to create a new rhetoric for political action and to elaborate their own definition of the nation, its members and themselves.