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Different Shades of Domesticity: Representations of Intersecting Power Relations in Latin American Literary and Visual Culture

  • Author(s): Roman-Morfin, Raquel Diana
  • Advisor(s): Mahieux, Viviane
  • et al.

This dissertation engages in the politics of representation and aims to contribute to the discourse on differences among women in terms of class, race, and other social divides. It also interrogates and challenges the social construction of domestic labor as `women's work.' As I examine a number of Latin American literary, testimonial, photographic, and cinematic representations of mistress and servant relationships, I draw on an intersectional approach, as well as a postcolonial feminist framework. I suggest that through various representational strategies, these texts grant visibility to domestic laborers while also presenting interesting ways to unsettle, destabilize, and subvert hegemonic cultural values and norms.

In chapter one, I analyze Rosario Castellanos' journalism with specific emphasis on her autobiographical essays written in 1973, where she chronicles her personal experience with domestic workers. In chapter two, I focus on Ana Gutierrez's ethnographic project, titled Se necesita muchacha (1983), which includes her introduction, the testimony of twenty-three indigenous domestic workers from Peru, and a lengthy 79-page prologue by Elena Poniatowska, titled "Presentación al lector mexicano." In chapter three, I examine Daniela Rossell's Ricas y famosas (2002) as an artist's book that, while showcasing wealthy women as the title suggests, also strategically places at least 41 domestic workers in various photographs. Lastly, in chapter four, I analyze Sebastián Silva's La Nana (2009) as a film that explores the ambiguous, uncertain, and marginal terrain of mothering in which nannies are often located.

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