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Blood Lines

Blood Lines

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    Blood Lines
    Book Description:

    Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literatureexamines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of an indigenous strand of Chicano cultural politics. In particular, this book exposes the ethnographic and poetic discourses that shaped the aesthetics and stylistics of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism. Contreras offers original perspectives on writers ranging from Alurista and Gloria Anzaldúa to Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alma Luz Villanueva, effectively marking the invocation of a Chicano indigeneity whose foundations and formulations can be linked to U.S. and British modernist writing.

    By highlighting intertextualities such as those between Anzaldúa and D. H. Lawrence, Contreras critiques the resilience of primitivism in the Mexican borderlands. She questions established cultural perspectives on "the native," which paradoxically challenge and reaffirm racialized representations of Indians in the Americas. In doing so,Blood Linesbrings a new understanding to the contradictory and richly textured literary relationship that links the projects of European modernism and Anglo-American authors, on the one hand, and the imaginary of the post-revolutionary Mexican state and Chicano/a writers, on the other hand.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79405-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Prelude
    (pp. 1-8)

    Chicanas and Chicanos are indigenous to the Americas. But in the United States, Indigenous relationships to land and Indigenous identity are determined by a system of categorization that privileges tribal affiliation and blood quantum. Even if Indigenous descent is recognized, the concepts of tribal identity and genealogy may appear unrelated to Chicana/o culture and history. This disassociation is rendered logical by the facts of Spanish fluency and Spanish surnames among contemporary U.S. Mexicans. We now well know, however, that the realities of cultural and racialmestizajeare not as simple as “Indian and Spaniard.”¹

    On the other hand, the evidence...

  5. INTRODUCTION Myths, Indigenisms, and Conquests
    (pp. 9-42)

    Chicana/o indigenism draws from a wealth of source material, directly and indirectly, acknowledged and unacknowledged, creating cultural narratives that rely prominently on mythic accounts drawn from anthropology and archaeology. This study is about the complications and paradoxes of Chicana/o literary indigenism, most especially this reliance on the mythic. Focusing on Chicana/o critical discourse as it is articulated in the academy, fiction, poetry, and essay,Blood Linesexamines a uniquely Chicana/o practice of valorizing the Indian. At the same time that I set out the distinct character of Chicana/o literary indigenism, I also place these writings within the context of dominant...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Mexican Myth and Modern Primitivism: D. H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent
    (pp. 43-70)

    Henry Moore’s British Museum holds as part of its permanent Mexican Gallery Collection a pre-Columbian stone sculpture of a serpent, the heavy figure coiled around itself, flitting tongue frozen on the verge of striking, a gripping representation of both ancient and contemporary Mexico available to Europeans who might not ever travel to the Americas. Archaeological convention argues that pre-Columbian figures of serpents or snakes symbolically represent Quetzalcoatl, a god of ancient origins.¹ Also known as the plumed serpent, its prominence in pre-Conquest Mesoamerica is displayed on artifacts from various cultural contexts dating from the “middle pre-Classic” Olmecas to the “late...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Mesoamerican in the Mexican-American Imagination: Chicano Movement Indigenism
    (pp. 71-104)

    Chicana/o poetics encompasses a range of textual expressions, including fiction, drama, poetry, and political manifestos. The movement period of this literary history is marked by the thematic recurrence of particular iconic images. For example, student and off-campus activist participation in the farmworker unionization movement helped create public awareness of the material conditions under which many agricultural workers labored.¹ This movement was also popularized through the work of El Teatro Campesino, an organizing tool founded in 1965 to stage performances in the fields and recruit workers for the union.² Characterizing farmworkers as “the least acculturated and most economically exploited members of...

  8. CHAPTER 3 From La Malinche to Coatlicue: Chicana Indigenist Feminism and Mythic Native Women
    (pp. 105-132)

    Chicana feminists have used the motifs of indigenist nationalism to advance some of the earliest critiques of relations of power within the movement, eroding the cultural authority of patriarchy to sustain Chicano revolutionary thought. In her groundbreaking essay on Chicana feminism, Norma Alarcón writes that “the reappropriation of ‘the’ native woman on Chicana feminist terms marked one of the first assaults on male-centered nationalism on the one hand and patriarchal political economy on the other” (“Chicana Feminism” 251). In linking feminism and indigenism, Alarcón’s text confirms the degree to which feminist analysis has been propelled by the symbols of nationalist...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Contra-mythic in Chicana Literature: Refashioning Indigeneity in Acosta, Cervantes, Gaspar de Alba, and Villanueva
    (pp. 133-162)

    Clearly, Chicana/o indigenist use of the Mesoamerican mythic has been inventive and productive. As a tool to challenge dominant narratives that positioned U.S. Mexicans as foreign immigrants, as an indictment of state and religious institutions of imperialism, and as a powerful critique of masculinist nationalism and Anglo-American racist patriarchy, the language of indigenism and its reliance on the mythic has yielded within Chicana/o letters a rich terrain of cultural expression. In all cases, however much writers might deploy mythic signifiers to establish Chicana/o indigeneity, there also exists a fundamental attempt to historicize Chicana/o presence in the Southwest United States.


  10. Coda
    (pp. 163-166)

    Chicana/o indigenism emerges in relation to the complex histories of “discovery,” theft, and exhibition that made popular knowledge of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica possible. State and private economic sponsorship of excavation, removal, and preservation of artifacts, and the global circuits through which these objects moved, enabled European and Euro-American pursuit of the pre-history of Mexico, whether from the floor of the museum space or the trenches of the archaeological site. Before the institutionalization of archaeology and anthropology, the production of this knowledge was first the province of Spaniards present at the time of the Conquest, or those who arrived in post-Conquest “New...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 167-186)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 187-202)
  13. Index
    (pp. 203-218)