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Conspiradoras in the contact zone: escritoras chicanas y su obra en español hacia una literatura menor.

  • Author(s): Ramos-Jordan, Alicia
  • Advisor(s): Martín-Rodríguez, Manuel M.
  • et al.

This thesis deals with narrative and discursive resources found in the works of five Chicana writers who write in Spanish in the eighties: Lucha Corpi, Gina Valdes, Miriam Bornstein, Erlinda Gonzales-Berry and Margarita Cota-Cárdenas. This study analyzes some literary devices that link the production of these five Chicana writers with minor literature and the concept of contact zone; furthermore this project studies how these writers create a transcultural and transnational literature.

This study will argue that these five Chicana writers are "conspirators in contact zones" and their literary works have been regarded as minor literature. Deleuze and Guattari define a minor literature through three main characteristics; firstly the deterritorialization of language, secondly the political element, and finally, the collective value.

The writers discussed in this thesis are configured as conspirators because they fight against the dominant discourses creating other possible narratives that demonstrate the process of exclusion and discrimination that they have endored as Chicana women writing in Spanish in the US.

My work also shows how by writing in Spanish, this group of Chicana writers open spaces from where is it possible to resist to a dominant discourse and deconstruct hegemonic form. In addition, this study shows how these writers act as conspirators in an area that Mary Louise Pratt calls "contact zone," a space "where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination: such as colonialism, or are their aftermaths as they lived out across the globe today" (Imperial Eyes 7).

Following the idea of "contact zone," it's clear that the Chicana writers I analyzed have lived in these spaces, for different reasons, and have experienced culture shock and relations of domination and subordination. As a result of these experiences, their works can be defined as transcultural.

In these works we find to a greater or lesser extent, what according to Pratt contain cultural productions that occur in the contact zones: "Autoethnography, transculturation, critique, collaboration, bilingualism, mediation, parody, denunciation, imaginary dialogue, vernacular expression miscomprehension, incomprehension, dead letters, unread masterpieces, absolute heterogeneity of meaning and related hazards will also present" (Arts of the Contact 37).

My dissertation chapters discuss how using Spanish, these Chicana writers construct poetic spaces and intertextuality from domestic situations, and create a minor literature that questions the concepts considered stable and homogeneous like the idea of nation, language and identity. Furthermore these women also propose their own feminism ranging from the personal to the collective, acting like true conspirators in contact zones. My study is necessary for several reasons. The first reason is because the literary critics overlooked the works of Chicana writers written in Spanish. Although these authors have not been totally ignored by critics, especially Chicano critics, the fact is that these studies have focused on the ones written in English translated into English.

A second reason is that there is no study that has grouped these five writers (Lucha Corpi, Gina Valdes, Miriam Bornstein, Margarita Cota-Cárdenas and Erlinda Gonzales-Berry) as representatives of a Chicano literature written in Spanish in the eighties. The presence and contribution of Chicano literary woman remained in the dark for a long time. In the eighties there was an awakening of Chicano literature produced by the female community, as the Chicano woman found its place in American editorials, This was due to the socio-political claims of Chicano movement and also the rise of the feminist movement and civil rights in full fervor during those decades. However, as discussed at various points in this dissertation writing in Spanish did not offer the same publishing conditions experienced by other contemporary Chicano writers writing in English.

This thesis covers this lack of attention toward cultural production in Spanish written by women, and shows the need to assert the Spanish language as a vehicle of expression of Chicano literature in the United States. Another reason for the need for this study its multidisciplinary theoretical approach. We understand that the works of these authors should not be regarded just as a purely literary product; in fact they also are tools to understand the variety of Chicano contexts, by revealing that confinement in a single battle or a single community is not possible. These writers show a creative desire that goes beyond spatial barriers that reinforce social differences and power relations based on race, class, sex, gender and national status.

Supporting this perspective, a cultural and textual analysis of his works should incorporate transcultural argument that reveals two impossibilities: the existence of a single cultural heritage, as expressed by the Moroccan philosopher Abdelkebir Khatibi in his article "plural Maghreb", and the inability to oppose the cultural hegemony from positions based on absolute truths of race and ethnicity.

In conclusion with this study I aim to contribute and join the effort of a literary criticism that tries to overcome reductionist, unambiguous and stereotyped criteria, showing the reality of a Chicano space with a large internal diversity both for the various themes used, the diverse language skills, and for different regions of origin.

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