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Women, Guerrillas, and Love: Understanding War in Central America

Ileana Rodríguez
Robert Carr
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Women, Guerrillas, and Love
    Book Description:

    Che Guevara’s diary, testimonies by Omar Cabezas and Tomás Borge, novels and short stories by Sergio Ramírez and Arturo Ariasare among the works Ilena Rodriguez examines in order to pinpoint the relationship between the collective and woman, and between woman and the nation-state. Women, Guerrillas, and Love challenges current assumptions about the relationship of gender and sexuality to writing and state building during revolutionary moments.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8658-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxii)

    In the political slogans and jokes about the revolution, one can discern many of the ungrammatical propositions that make us laugh. For instance: in the rhymediri-gentes, diplo-gentes, indi-gentes(people who lead, diplomatic people, indigent people)¹ we can find an amusing commentary on the nature of a purported classless society, and in the jokes about socialism, the tautological turn of phrase makes ideologies appear to mirror one another comically. One of the most disturbing slogans circulating in the United States in the 1960s was “Good grammar is good politics.” Since both my English and my Spanish grammar were faltering, I...

  5. Excursus: Eros/Fatherland
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  6. I: Woman/Nation/States

    • CHAPTER ONE The Place of Gender as a Sign of Denationalization
      (pp. 3-18)

      For more than seven years the Sandinistas had refused to talk to the contra leaders. To engage in dialogue with them was considered madness. Invoking a biblical figure, Tomás Borge asserted that before negotiating, the contras first had “to count all the stars in the sky, all the grains of sand on the shore.” However, at the end of the decade of the 1980s, the Sandinistas came to admit that unless they wanted to give up their project they had to sit down with the contras and talk. A meeting was agreed upon and the two groups assembled at Zapoa,...

    • CHAPTER TWO Vanishing Bodies, Woman/Nation: Deconstructing the Panamanian State
      (pp. 19-29)

      It was Doris Sommer’s provocative essay “Irresistible Romance: Foundational Fictions of Latin America” that persuaded me to rethink the relationship between literature and nation, and between literature and the state. She brought to my attention the intricacies of plotting love and nations in narratives, the construction as well as the destruction of states, writing novels and writing history; of writing novels about history, about nations, and about legislation in pre- and postrevolutionary Central America.¹ Most of the Central American texts I study here are written by politically engaged men and women, people who call themselves revolutionaries—guerrilla fighters, combatants, and...

    • CHAPTER THREE Problems in the Constitution of the New Individual/Collective Subject as Masculine and Feminine: Romanticism/“Revolutionary”-ism
      (pp. 30-38)

      In raising the questions of eros and fatherland in revolutionary and nonrevolutionary writings, in terms of a process of gender inversion, I want to move now to distinguish the difference between the construction of a revolutionary gendered subject by “bourgeois” women, on one hand, and the construction of a traditionally gendered subject by revolutionary men on the other. In her incisive studyLas Románticas: Women Writers and Subjectivity in Spain, 1835—1850,Susan Kirkpatrick analyzes the logic inherent in the constitution of the Romantic self as a writing subject.¹ Liberal subjectivity, she argues, constructs gender as difference (man—analytical, creative,...

  7. II: (New) Man

    • CHAPTER FOUR Constituting the Narrative “I” as Difference: The Guerrilla Troop and the Guerrilla Base
      (pp. 41-48)

      The problem of the construction of the revolutionary subject as that masculine “I,” which is not the collectivity, is evident also in pamphlets, proclamations, and political speeches, and in theguerrilleros’ revisions of national history.¹ In all these documents, writing itself betrays the presence of the desire for the collective, that unreachable that stands for the people-masses-troops-base. Theguerrillerosaspire to represent, both in the literary and the political spaces, all of these groups, or at least to speak in their name. The being as ventriloquist—characteristic of women’s literature, according to Franco—is another strategy of articulation of guerrilla...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Constituting the Individual Subject “I” as Difference: Woman
      (pp. 49-61)

      We can now move to consider that disturbing quality, unfamiliar to masculinity, that “most unusual” characteristic in Che’s personality to which men consistently refer, a trait men admire in other men, a femininity, perhaps.¹ Yet, here is a way of acting, a behavior that seems as surprising to him who possesses it as to him who beholds it. Certainly, it is surprising to speak of qualities that are attractive to the masculine yet do nothing to accommodate masculine epistemes. “Most unusual” is the domain of the individual, a space in which the masculine “I” may, perhaps, become a collective subject,or...

    • CHAPTER SIX Constructing People/Masses as Subaltern: “Little Man”/New Man
      (pp. 62-76)

      In all earnestness and with sincere humility, after the Sandinistas’ electoral defeat, Ramirez, the intellectual and ex-vice president of the Nicaraguan revolutionary government, poses a question relative to the distance between himself, the leader of the revolution, and the “little man” of the popular masses.¹ Speaking as a writer, as an intellectual, and as an ex-vice president, he registers an awareness of the divergence of visions: thecampesino’spossible vision of himself and the intellectual’s nescience. The quotation makes clear the intellectual puzzlement of a thinker trying to discern the subaltern. He confesses he cannot see thecampesino,and he...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Politico-Military/Poetic Narratives: Who?
      (pp. 77-90)

      Almost twenty years after Che wrote his elegiac definition of the guerrilla associal subject of the revolutionary struggle, Roque Dalton published his novelPobrecito poeta que era yo(Poor Little Poet That I Was) (1984).¹ In contrast to Che’s military prose, Dalton’s is an experimental novel about the eclectic ways of constituting a revolutionary subject. Dalton was a literary man, an outstanding poet and an excellent prose writer. He was very well read. He read any and all Western literatures, and, like most literary men from El Salvador, he was in awe of Salarrué, a Salvadoran prose writer considered the...

  8. III: (Wo)man

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Masculine “I” as Other: The Formation of the Revolutionary Couple
      (pp. 93-104)

      By the 1970s, revolutionary writers were attempting to plot women within the narratives of political struggle. In his novelEl esplendor de la Pirámide(The Splendor of the Pyramid), written in the 1970s but not published until 1986, Mario Roberto Morales purports to narrate the revolutionary couple.¹ This novel relates the story of a Guatemalan revolutionary who is helped by a Mexican woman he symbolically nicknames Pyramid. Pyramid brings the revolutionary to her house and shows him the way around Mexico City. Sharing a house, however, leads inevitably to seduction and to lovemaking, giving birth, through purely circumstantial events, to...

    • CHAPTER NINE The Body as Excess
      (pp. 105-114)

      Yolanda Oreamuno’s textLa ruta de su evasión(The Route of His/Her Evasion) is the first serious Central American feminist novel.¹ It enacts three instances of male/female relationships: the traditional man/wife couple—Teresa/Don Vasco; the ideal love affair mediated by the daughter/father relationship—Gabriel/Elena’s father/Elena; and a very novel lover/mistress coupling—Gabriel/Aurora. However self-evident these three forms of plotting gender exchanges might seem, the dialogic nature of Oreamuno’s discourse nevertheless thrives on logical perversion. In order to untangle the web of relationships, she places men and women in untenable human positions, the specter of women’s rights haunting every line of...

    • CHAPTER TEN Implosions: Narcissus Becomes a “Signifying Monkey”
      (pp. 115-128)

      The first moment of European intellectual fascination with the prose of Jorge Luis Borges is one of pleasure. Foucault rejoices in reading the classificatory system of animals that mocks his own paradigms. The second moment is a revulsion: Baudrillard discovers with horror that Borges’s map is identical to his own geography, that is, no longer Borges’s conceptual map itself but the inner map of European epistemes.

      The transition from Foucault’s to Baudrillard’s reading of Borges suggests a new credit system of cultural exchange, and the unfolding of a denationalized, transocietal subject. In this new exchange, Narcissus implodes into a “Signifying...

  9. IV: (Subaltern) Nation/(Subaltern) People

      (pp. 131-140)

      In one of the most lyrical articles in cultural criticism, “Chandra’s Death,” Ranajit Guha explains and comments on the transformation of cultural signs performed by legal scripture.¹ The analytical reconstruction of the abortion case of a woman named Chandra, her punishment and death, leads him to explain convincingly how an act of solidarity between women is converted into a crime, filial/parental love toward a woman into masculine solidarity, a loving sister into a murderer, all of the actors in this tragedy into the accused, and the expressions of pain into legal depositions. Where, he asks, is the pleasure that that...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE “There Is Nothing like a Man Astride ... in War, or in Love”
      (pp. 141-154)

      Asturias’s novelMen of Maizeopens with a war.¹ The cacique Gaspar Ilóm and his entourage are on the verge of betrayal. Woman, Gaspar Ilóm’s wife, the Piojosa Grande, intuits woman’s treason but cannot avert it. At the banquet celebrating the initiation of combat, Vaca Manuela poisons the nobility, and the struggle for the freedom of the forest of Ilóm is finally ended. As a result, Machojón’s son is borne away by hallucination. The Amerindian past haunts him in the shape of swarms of dragonflies, and he dies. Machojón, too, dies of grief. Colonel Godoy, content with having defeated the...

  10. V: (Wo)man/Motherland

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Case B: Of Testimonial and Diaries: Narratives of Success and Failure
      (pp. 157-167)

      In Gayatri Spivak’s introduction toSelected Subaltern Studies,one can find a number of ideas relevant to the study of the constitution of the subaltern as a revolutionary subject.¹ For my purposes, the most interesting are those that question the concepts of success and failure with reference to the constitution of the subaltern. It could be that those two words are the loci of positivistic readings of the “development” of the subaltern; but it could also be that their seductiveness is related precisely to the opposite, for success and failure become relative when one uncovers their being as a mark...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Solidarity in Affinity: Woman Constitutes Woman
      (pp. 168-184)

      In a stimulating article entitled “Occidentalism as Counterdiscourse: ‘He Shang’ in Post-Mao China,” Xiao-Mei Chen examines the Orientalist and Occidentalist positions within post-Maoist Chinese cultural discourse.¹ Inanalyzing the television programHe Shang (He,river;Shang, “dying before one comes of age”)—“a survivor’s mourning for the martyrs who had sacrificed their lives for their country” (695)—Chen juxtaposes Orientalist Occidentalism’s circuit of images with Occidentalist Orientalism’s circuit of images, suggesting a specular vision incessantly reproducing itself. In the unraveling of that logic of reciprocities, she also confronts a concept of culture woven through a perpetual debate over the impressions, readings,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 185-192)
  12. Index
    (pp. 193-200)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-201)