Failed Escapes and Impossible Homecomings
  • Patricia A. Schechter
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)


This study followed four women’s paths of engagement with the world through their writing, institution building, and activism. By attending to pressures of racialization in a transnational framework, my analysis contextualized their geographic and ideological (re)positionings vis-a-vis the United States between 1880 and 1965, its cultural formations (missions, higher education, publishing), as well as its political ones (feminist organizations, political parties, and labor unions). Following Emma Pérez, I argue that their repositionings are usefully understood as decolonial in intent and effect, that is, as critical of and resistant to the normalizing categories of national belonging and racial identification associated with the modern nation-state, including citizenship and coloniality. Their decolonial imaginings frequently took gendered cues, as in the feminized subject position of Puerto Rico as a “pretty daughter” in the Caribbean or the identification of Gertrude Stein with the conquering hero U. S. Grant or a saintly Susan B. Anthony. At its most provocative, the decolonial imaginary opened spaces beyond the binaries of male/female, black/white, nation/colony, making Puerto Rico a political “Switzerland” among nation-states or making a person “transparent” rather than “colored.”


Feminist Organization Legal Citizenship Free Trade Unionism Pretty Daughter Protestant Mission 
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    Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). Antoinette Burton, Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Carolyn Steedman, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rugters University Press, 2002Google Scholar

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© Patricia A. Schechter 2012

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  • Patricia A. Schechter

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