Encarnacion: Illness and Body Politics in Chicana Feminist Literature

Encarnacion: Illness and Body Politics in Chicana Feminist Literature

SUZANNE BOST
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0cg4
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  • Book Info
    Encarnacion: Illness and Body Politics in Chicana Feminist Literature
    Book Description:

    Encarnacicn takes a new look at identity. Following the contemporary movement away from the fixed categories of identity politics toward a more fluid conception of the intersections between identities and communities, this book analyzes the ways in which literature and philosophy draw boundaries around identity.The works of Gloria AnzaldLa, Cherr!e Moraga, and Ana Castillo, in particular, enable us to examine how identities shift and intersect with others through processes of incarnation.Since the 1980s, critics have come to equate these writers with Chicana feminist identity politics. This critical trend, however, has been unable to account for these writers' increasing emphasis on bodies that are sick, disabled, permeable, and, oftentimes, mystical.Encarnacicn thus turns our attention to aspects of these writers' work that are usually ignored-AnzaldLa's autobiographical writings about diabetes, Moraga's narrative about her premature baby's medical treatments, and Castillo's figure of a polio-afflicted flamenco dancer-to explore the political and cultural dimensions of illness.Concerned equally with the medical-surgical interventions available in our postmodern age and with the ways of understanding bodies in the Native American and Catholic traditions these writers invoke, Encarnacicn develops a model for identity that expands beyond the boundaries of individual bodies. The book argues that this model has greater utility for feminism than identity politics because it values human variability, sensation, and openness to others. The methodology of the study is as permeable as the bodies and identities it analyzes. The book brings together discourses as disparate as Mesoamerican anthropology, art history, feminist spirituality, feminist biology, phenomenology, postmodern theory, disability studies, and autobiographical narrative in order to expand our thinking beyond what disciplinary boundaries allow.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4777-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-33)

    Inga Clendinnen, historian of Aztec and Mayan cultures, turned to self-representation when she found herself disabled by liver disease. Her memoir,Tiger’s Eye(2000), relates an incident in which her nose began to bleed uncontrollably while guiding students through an analysis of Aztec bleeding practices (Clendinnen,Tiger’s Eye5). Predictably, once the professor’s body began to act unpredictably, it became the center of attention, an object of analysis quite different (or perhaps not quite different enough) from the historical sources that were the subject of the course. One imagines that, as the boundaries between subject and object shifted, the matter...

  6. 1 FEELING PRE-COLUMBIAN: CHICANA FEMINISTS’ IMAGINATIVE HISTORIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 34-76)

    In Elaine Scarry’sThe Body in Pain(1985), arguably the most influential work about pain in the Humanities, pain figures as the paradigmatic negative, the horizon of acceptable experience. It is so opposed to our self-understandings as living beings that it cannot be put into language: “physical pain—unlike any other state of consciousness—has no referential content. It is notoforforanything. It is precisely because it takes no object that it, more than any other phenomenon, resists objectification in language” (Scarry 5, original emphasis). For Scarry, pain is thus an incommunicable phenomenon; unlike hatred or desire,...

  7. 2 PAIN: GLORIA ANZALDÚA’S CHALLENGE TO “WOMEN’S HEALTH”
    (pp. 77-113)

    To talk about the work of Gloria Anzaldúa is to cross borders, not just national borders but also the lines between biography and criticism, body and theory. Her recent death troubled these borders more radically as her passing and her suffering from diabetes shifted to the center of discussions about her. The passionate mourning that has followed shows how her lifework, and her life, still bleed into the words of those who have incorporated her ideas and the strength of her rebellion. Inés Hernández-Ávila describes her grief as a gradual embodiment of Anzaldúa’s absence: “My body is reluctantly registering in...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. 3 MEDICINE: CHERRÍE MORAGA’S BOUNDARY VIOLATIONS
    (pp. 114-150)

    Pain illness, and disability are politically significant, in part, because they defy contemporary norms for how bodies should look and act. When Gloria Anzaldúa struggled to find spiritual transcendence through the fluctuations of diabetes, this struggle was always in friction with medical diagnoses and treatments. Similarly, when Ana Castillo’s disabled heroine inPeel My Love Like an Oniondances flamenco, the euphoria of physical capability lies in direct resistance to institutionalized boundaries for “handicapped” identity and the limited mobility associated with post-polio syndrome. The power of boundary-crossing is partially produced by the boundaries being crossed. This chapter turns to representations...

  10. 4 MOVEMENT: ANA CASTILLO’S SHAPE-SHIFTING IDENTITIES
    (pp. 151-192)

    If we accept pain and illness as viable corporeal states, we must think more about how such bodies are able to move and to thrive in the world. InSo Far From God(1993)—the Ana Castillo novel that might seem like the most obvious “fit” for this study because of its emphasis on pain, illness, and medicine—the sick and injured characters do not do this. Though three of the four sisters in this novel return after death through channeling and miraculous “ectoplasmic” apparitions, all four do die, and none is able to navigate through the material world in...

  11. CONCLUSION RETHINKING BODY POLITICS: MAYA GONZÁLEZ AND DIANE GAMBOA
    (pp. 193-214)

    The epigraph from Frida Kahlo separates mobility from corporeality when she suggests that she does not need wings to fly. Kahlo’s injuries and surgeries led her to see past her body as the horizon of her being. In fact, she disavows disability in this statement, which comes at the end of a 1953 entry in her diary titled “Puntos de apoyo” (points of support), written just before the amputation of her leg:

    Puntos do Apoyo

    En mi figura completa solo hayuno, y quiero dos.

    Para tener yo los dos me tienen que cortaruno.

    Es elunoque no...

  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 215-228)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 229-234)