Gendered Bodies and Borders in Contemporary Chican@ Performance and Literature
In this essay, an examination of gender and sexuality in contemporary Chican@performance and literary practices, I seek to situate myself as a Chicana ethno-critic, meaning not only an “ethnically” self-identified critic or a critic of “ethnic” discourse, but also engaging Arnold Krupat’s description of ethnocriticism as “a critical practice … freely choosing a commitment to the production of whatever narratives … may serve to tell the emerging story of culture change today and in the future.”1 My intention here is to probe the contours of the overdetermined sign of “the” border, showing it to be—showing how it can be (seen as)—a more porous, eroticized, embodied site. My focus in my bor-derologia —my “border research”—is the body, and more specifically how the female body is implicated and co-opted in the heteronormative project of both mainstream Anglo and some Chicano representations. I have also found, however, in the writings of women of color, especially those of Chicana lesbians, a deliberate reconfiguration of the border, a reclaiming and remapping of the margins as, to use bell hooks’s well-known phrase, “a site of resistance” in which the female body is neither fallen nor exalted, fragmented nor fetishized. I will return to this space, which I call fronterótica or borderotics, later.
KeywordsFemale Body Impartial Spectator Culture Clash Gender Body Performance Piece
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