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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Women rewriting the nation : gendered violence in Colombian narratives (1950-2004)

  • Author(s): Mendoza, Annie
  • et al.

This dissertation is an analysis of Colombian feminist novels inspired by three interrelated historical periods: the 1928 massacre of striking union workers on the Caribbean coast, the mid-century era known as La Violencia in which Liberals and Conservatives engaged in an unofficial civil-war played out in the nation's Andean region, and finally the Drug Wars of the 1980s which took place in Colombia's urban centers. My examination reveals how, throughout the course of the past six decades, Colombian female writers disengaged slowly from predominant literary productions by bringing attention to the types of violence that women have endured as a result of state-sponsored hostility. I argue that since the 1960s female novelists have been situated at the forefront of Colombia's literary production as they portray the specific challenges of women in a nation plagued by successive cycles of violence. More importantly, they bring attention to the specific types of violence that women have endured as a result of state-sponsored hostility: loss of shelter and stability, domestic abuse, savage gendered aggression such as the killing of pregnant women, and sexual violence including incest and exploitation in the form of prostitution. I argue that these feminist narrations expose how each new cycle of violence in Colombia is intertwined with previous generations of hostility, as well as the resultant tragic outcomes that women continue to face, including lack of access to land, education, protection, and security. In addition to its literary value, my project aims to further this collective effort of establishing commonalities between and amongst Latin American feminist narratives as they relate to history and culture. Using gender as a category of analysis, this project provides insight into how feminist novels on violence are inclined towards contesting patriarchal power structures in times of conflict. These cultural productions highlight how women challenge not only the limitations to their participation in the public sphere, but also their subordinate position within the national identity

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