Our Ladies: Third Space Identities in Chicana Artistic Expressions, 1970-2000
Booker, Hilkka Marja
Rodriguez, Ana Patricia
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This dissertation examines Chicana feminist artistic expression in literature and in the visual arts produced between 1970 and 2000, when intense questioning of Chicana identity politics and border subjectivities emerged in both literature and the arts. Chicana feminists explored problems of the subordination of women, both in mainstream U.S. discourse and within the Chicano Movement, which had hitherto focused on masculine strategies of self-definition in the attempt to shape a communal Latino identity. The works studied include the poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes (Emplumada 1981), Alma Villanueva (Bloodroot 1982), and Pat Mora (Borders 1986); the photographic autobiography of Norma Cantú (Canícula 2001); and visual art by Ester Hernández (La Virgen de Guadalupe Defendiendo los Derechos de los Xicanos 1975), Yolanda Lopez (Guadalupe series 1978), and Alma Lopez (Our Lady 1999). Utilizing Gloria Anzaldúa's notions about mestiza consciousness and Cherríe Moraga's "theory in the flesh," I explore Chicana creative works and examine the development of multiple subjectivities that are a product of Borderlands thinking, mediated by Chicana everyday experiences. Theories of location, such as Edward Soja's Third Space provide a framework for my study. Moreover, I theorize that in these works the female body becomes an important site of contestation for the sexist and masculinist practices of the Chicano Movement and the oppressive conditions of dominant culture.