Domestic Negotiations

Domestic Negotiations: Gender, Nation, and Self-Fashioning in US Mexicana and Chicana Literature and Art

Marci R. McMahon
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 260
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjc4t
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  • Book Info
    Domestic Negotiations
    Book Description:

    This interdisciplinary study explores how US Mexicana and Chicana authors and artists across different historical periods and regions use domestic space to actively claim their own histories. Through "negotiation"-a concept that accounts for artistic practices outside the duality of resistance/accommodation-and "self-fashioning," Marci R. McMahon demonstrates how the very sites of domesticity are used to engage the many political and recurring debates about race, gender, and immigration affecting Mexicanas and Chicanas from the early twentieth century to today.Domestic Negotiationscovers a range of archival sources and cultural productions, including the self-fashioning of the "chili queens" of San Antonio, Texas, Jovita González's romance novelCaballero, the home economics career and cookbooks of Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Sandra Cisneros's "purple house controversy" and her acclaimed textThe House on Mango Street, Patssi Valdez's self-fashioning and performance of domestic space in Asco and as a solo artist, Diane Rodríguez's performance of domesticity in Hollywood television and direction of domestic roles in theater, and Alma López's digital prints of domestic labor in Los Angeles. With intimate close readings, McMahon shows how Mexicanas and Chicanas shape domestic space to construct identities outside of gendered, racialized, and xenophobic rhetoric.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6096-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. A Note on Terminology
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    In her six-photo seriesMaría’s Great Expedition(1995–1996), the artist Christina Fernandez recounts the personal history of her great-grandmother María’s migrations between the United States and Mexico by posing as her great-grandmother. In each of the sepia-toned photos and in the final chromogenic photo, the artist depicts the distant and recurring circumstances of her great-grandmother’s life, centering on gender roles and domestic space. The first photo, “1910, Leaving Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico,” shows Fernandez as María wearing her hair in braids and wrapped in a rebozo, contemplating her departure. The accompanying text explains that after three years in Juárez, Mexico,...

  7. PART ONE Domestic Power

    • CHAPTER 1 The Chili Queens of San Antonio: CHALLENGING DOMESTICATION THROUGH STREET VENDING AND FASHION
      (pp. 27-48)

      In April 1938, Atlee B. Ayres, an architect known for commercial and residential projects in San Antonio and throughout Texas, held Fiesta Mexicano, a night of music and performance sponsored by the Fiesta San Jacinto Association at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio.¹ As an active director of the Fiesta Association, Ayres staged La Noche de Fiesta events annually from 1936 to 1943. Ayres’s synopsis for the 1938 event details the elaborate spectacle:

      Participants will all dress in native Mexican costumes which will consist of mountedrurales[rural police], bull-fighters, various types of Mexican vendors, such as those seen in...

    • CHAPTER 2 Claiming Domestic Space in the US-Mexico Borderlands: JOVITA GONZÁLEZ AND EVE RALEIGH’S CABALLERO AND CLEOFAS JARAMILLO’S ROMANCE OF A LITTLE VILLAGE GIRL
      (pp. 49-74)

      In an important scene of the historical romance novelCaballero(1930s–1940s),¹ mid-twentieth-century Tejana author and folklorist Jovita González and coauthor, Anglo American writer Eve Raleigh, depict Padre Pierre, a French priest who lives in a Spanish Mexican land-owning community in nineteenth-century rural South Texas, advising the families to gain Anglo American sympathy and approval of Mexican presence in Texas by displaying their “Spanish” colonial homes:²

      You have your beautiful homes filled with many treasures, ordered households where courtesy reigns; food of the best, served graciously…. I say this: Seek theAmericanoofficials who have influence and invite them to...

    • CHAPTER 3 Domestic Power across Borders: FABIOLA CABEZA DE BACA’S HOME ECONOMICS WORK IN NEW MEXICO AND MEXICO
      (pp. 75-100)

      In her essay “New Mexican Diets” in theJournal of Home Economics, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca recounts her visit to northern rural New Mexico in 1929 and her surprise at being served fried potatoes with canned corn beef and white bread by a family of Mexican descent who invited her to dinner (1942).¹ Cabeza de Baca was visiting the family as part of her home extension service work for the New Mexico Agricultural Extension Service (NMAES), a New Deal government agency, to assist families with the task of improving their domestic economies in both their households and farms in order...

  8. PART TWO Domesticana

    • CHAPTER 4 Postnationalist and Domesticana Strategies: SANDRA CISNEROS’S THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET AND CARMEN LOMAS GARZA’S FAMILIAS
      (pp. 103-129)

      In summer 1997, the now well-known “purple house” controversy ignited in the King William District in San Antonio, quickly spreading throughout the city and the nation. At issue was acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros’s choice to have her late-Victorian cottage, built circa 1903, painted purple, or more precisely Sherwin Williams Corsican Purple, in 1997. With headlines such as the “King William ‘Color Flap,’” “The Color Purple,” and “Purple Politics,” the story dominated the local and state press that summer, eventually obtaining national status with a story in theNew York Times. While the city’s Historic Design and Review Commission, along with...

    • CHAPTER 5 Patssi Valdez’s “A Room of One’s Own”: SELF-FASHIONING, GLAMOUR, AND DOMESTICITY IN THE MUSEUM AND HOLLYWOOD
      (pp. 130-155)

      As traffic sped by on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles in 1974, Gronk, a member of the Chicano art collective Asco, taped fellow member Patssi Valdez to the exterior of a liquor store.¹ On Valdez’s left, and not shown in the most popular photo-documentation of this performance piece,Instant Mural, is Asco affiliate Humberto Sandoval, whose body was also bound to the wall by Gronk (fig. 8). Their taped bodies were part of Asco’s commentary on the many Chicano movement murals of East Los Angeles in the 1970s. Asco felt that the Aztec symbols and Mexican nationalist iconography of...

    • CHAPTER 6 Redirecting Chicana/Latina Representation: DIANE RODRÍGUEZ’S PERFORMANCE AND STAGING OF THE DOMESTIC
      (pp. 156-180)

      In December 2003, Home and Garden Television (HGTV) featured director and actor Diane Rodríguez’s home in Echo Park, Los Angeles, in a segment titled “Mexican Holiday Décor” for their annual programHandmade Holiday with Kitty Bartholomew.¹ In the episode, the host, Kitty Bartholomew, guides audiences on a multicultural tour of twelve houses, spotlighting homeowners who have created “handmade objects reflecting their heritage and family traditions” for the holiday season.² Only three homes are assigned an ethnic and racial designation, including Rodríguez’s and two others with the labels “African American Holiday” and “Japanese Style Wrapping.”³ The piece on Rodríguez’s home features...

  9. Epilogue: DENATURALIZING THE DOMESTIC
    (pp. 181-188)

    Nativist and anti-immigration policies, as exhibited by the passing of SB 1070, or the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, in Arizona in 2010 and similar calls to enforce such legislation nationally, recycle and extend the racialized binaries of domestic/foreign and legal/illegal, which have framed the dominant narrative of Mexicana, Chicana, and Latina domesticity that I have analyzed throughout this book.¹ SB 1070 affirms the requirement that immigrants register with the US federal government and makes it a state misdemeanor to not have registration documents in one’s possession at all times. It requires local law enforcement, during a...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 189-214)
  11. References
    (pp. 215-228)
  12. Index
    (pp. 229-240)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-242)