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Chicano Nations

Chicano Nations: The Hemispheric Origins of Mexican American Literature

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 269
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  • Book Info
    Chicano Nations
    Book Description:

    Chicano Nations argues that the transnationalism that is central to Chicano identity originated in the global, postcolonial moment at the turn of the nineteenth century rather than as an effect of contemporary economic conditions, which began in the mid nineteenth century and primarily affected the laboring classes. The Spanish empire then began to implode, and colonists in the new world debated the national contours of the viceroyalties. This is where Marissa K. Lopez locates the origins of Chicano literature, which is now and always has been postnational, encompassing the wealthy, the poor, the white, and the mestizo. Tracing its long history and the diversity of subject positions it encompasses, Chicano Nations explores the shifting literary forms authors have used to write the nation from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.Lopez argues that while national and global tensions lie at the historical heart of Chicana/o narratives of the nation, there should be alternative ways to imagine the significance of Chicano literature other than as a reflection of national identity. In a nuanced analysis, the book provides a way to think of early writers as a meaningful part of Chicano literary history, and, in looking at the nation, rather than the particularities of identity, as that which connects Chicano literature over time, it engages the emerging hemispheric scholarship on U.S. literature.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-5329-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Nuevas Fronteras / New Frontiers
    (pp. 1-22)

    Guillermo Verdecchia’s 1993 playFronteras Americanasalternates between two characters, Verdecchia and his alter ego, Facundo Morales Segundo, who prefers the “more Saxonical” name Wideload McKennah (24). In the first act, Wideload interrupts Verdecchia’s learned disquisitions on Latin American history with satirical monologues about Latino stereotypes and “de Saxonian community” (40). As Verdecchia ponders his conflicted relationships with Canada and Argentina, where he was born, Wideload plays ethnographer to the exotic Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their children, Cindy and John, while earning his “doctorate in Chicana/o estudies” (35). Having arrived in Argentina by the end of the first act,...

  5. PART 1 Imagining the Americas

    • 1 Latinidad Abroad: The Narrative Maps of Sarmiento, Zavala, and Pérez Rosales
      (pp. 25-59)

      Fearing for his own life after the assassination of many of his political allies, the Mexican politician Lorenzo de Zavala fled Mexico City for the United States late in 1829. Arriving in New Orleans, he traveled northeast through Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and eventually Canada, recording his observations along the way. A decade later, the Argentine writer, soldier, and provocateur Domingo Sarmiento, also fleeing political unrest, traced a similar path across the United States and Canada. Just three years after Sarmiento, Vicente Pérez Rosales, a Chilean journalist, businessman, and admiring critic of Sarmiento’s, left along with thousands of...

    • 2 Mexicanidad at Home: Mariano Vallejo’s Chicano Historiography
      (pp. 60-90)

      Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, former Mexican military commander of Alta California and, at one time, the region’s wealthiest resident, was, like the travelers in the previous chapter, duly impressed with technologies of U.S. travel, as indicated by the above epigraph from 1869. He also shared those travelers’ admiration of the professed liberal, egalitarian, and republican ideals of the United States, as will become clear in the course of this chapter. As the above epigraph from 1865 reveals, however, Vallejo was not blind to the dehumanizing effects of these modern marvels, nor was he unaware of the racialization and proletarianization of California’s...

  6. PART 2 Inhabiting America

    • 3 Racialized Bodies and the Limits of the Abstract: María Mena and Daniel Venegas
      (pp. 93-119)

      The hemispheric utopia of globally integrated trade imagined by Mariano Vallejo moves, at the turn of the last century, slowly from imagination to reality, with questionable motives and decidedly mixed results. What Mexico gained economically it lost in social cohesion as the Mexican Revolution rocked the country during 1910–20. Tens of thousands of Mexicans fled to the United States as warring factions battled for control over Mexico’s future and its past. The works of María Mena and Daniel Venegas reflect two disparate factions of the Mexican revolutionary diaspora that eventually do become part of a Chicana/o collectivity in the...

    • 4 More Life in the Skeleton: Caballero and the Teleology of Race
      (pp. 120-146)

      In 1996 Texas A&M University Press published Jovita González and Eve Raleigh’sCaballero: A Historical Novel, which the two had written sometime around 1937.¹ The novel tells the story of the fictional Mexican Mendoza y Soría family and how they deal with the transition to U.S. rule in the wake of the Mexican-American War. Although scholars had long known of the existence of the novel (in several articles González had published in theSouthwest ReviewandPublications of the Texas Folklore Societythe novel was reported “in progress” [Limón, introduction toCaballero, xviii]), the manuscript itself was not discovered until...

  7. PART 3 American Diasporas

    • 5 Ana Castillo’s “distinct place in the Americas”
      (pp. 149-170)

      In Chapter 4 I discussed how desire opens a thirdspace inCaballero: a place outside time, history, and nation where Captain Devlin and Luis Gonzaga can be together as artists, and where Susanita and Warrener’s love can hum along with the rhythms of nature. The full potential of that space is never explored, however, as the novel can neither account for the possibility of Devlin and Luis’s queer citizenship nor can it fully inhabit the radically revised America their relationship postulates. This is, however, the transamerican space imagined in the work of Ana Castillo. Her novels,Sapogonia(1990) andThe...

    • 6 Border Patrol as Global Surveillance: Post-9/11 Chicana/o Detective Fiction
      (pp. 171-200)

      The peregrinations of Ana Castillo’s characters in the previous chapter illustrate just how much notions of national space and subjects have shifted since the mid-nineteenth century. Writers like Domingo Sarmiento, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Vicente Pérez Rosales traced the emergence of race as an organizing principle of space. As national economies have become increasingly interdependent and global, the clear borders of the nation-state, which came into focus for the writers in Chapter 1, have become less functions of state and geographic boundaries, as our Latin American travelers would have experienced them, and constituted more, as political geographers Louis Amoore, Stephen...

  8. Conclusion: “. . . Walking in the Dark Forest of the Twenty-First Century”
    (pp. 201-208)

    That is how, in March 2002, Mexican-born, San Francisco–based performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña, in conversation with Lisa Wolford, described what it felt like for him to make art after September 11, 2001 (ethno-techno282). Parsing the events of the early 2000s one can easily understand why. In November 2005, the administration of then president George W. Bush announced the Secure Border Initiative. SBINet, through a contract awarded to Boeing, was not only to increase guards and expand the physical wall along the two-thousand-mile U.S.-Mexico border but also to wire it for the new millennium with a technologyrich array of...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 209-230)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-244)
  11. Index
    (pp. 245-258)
  12. About the Author
    (pp. 259-259)