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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Peripheral and the Ephemeral: Power Struggle, Violence and Fear in the Depiction of Chinos in Mexican Literature and Visual Arts

  • Author(s): Tyutina, Svetlana V.
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

This article analyzes how visual colonial representations of chinos (“Chinese”) resonate in contemporary Mexican literature. It examines power relationships, the fear of the Oriental Other and the violence associated with it in the eighteenth-century castas paintings and explores repercussions of this image in the broader context of the tumultuous modern Mexican history represented in the contemporary novel by Juan José Rodríguez Asesinato en una lavandería china (Murder in a Chinese Laundry, 1996). This text offers a controversial image of the Oriental Other, submerged in the world of violence, fear and power struggle where, as in castas paintings, characters live in a space that combines the historical and the imaginary. The article looks into these parallel images to uncover avenues of Orientalization of the chino and compares them to other images of the Orient that appear alongside it, exploring how these images relate to Mexican national identity.

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