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Postmodernism, historical materialism and Chicana/o cultural studies


During the past two decades, critics have taken an interest in explaining the ideological ambivalence expressed in Chicana/o literature. Most critics correctly point out that Chicana/o ambivalence cannot be separated from the conflicted material realities historically experienced by Mexican Americans, but this view has not prevented some critics from tiptoeing into the idealist terrain of postruodernism. Postmodernist theory has provided Chicana/o criticism with conceptual tools for explaining the heterogeneity of culture, but its antagonism toward history and class analysis has limited the potential for Chicana/o studies to develop an effective social criticism. Two postmodernist terms used to describe ambivalence are "cultural schizophrenia" and "heterotopia." Historical materialism -a method that makes truth-claims about social existence after a rigorous critique of the concepts and ideas that emerge from that existence - stands as a - viable alternative to postmodernist theory for the interpretation of Chicana/o literature.

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