Justification of Problematic
The focus of my problematic stems from the recent literature that reflects the identity formation of Latinas who occupy a unique space in society; a space not tied directly to the homeland, but also not a space in which they are considered as sole members of U.S.society. On the contrary, in such an environment, the Latina is often seen as the Other, or even as an “exotic commodity” (McCracken 12). However, my problematic will focus on how recent works by Latinas, written in 2000 and later, employ specific literary strategies that serve to re-invent the identity of the Latina. These strategies, Deconstruction, Revisionism, and Differential Movement,all have in common the objective of challenging dominant discourses. Although the idea of reinvention has pre-dated the 21st century, the use of specific strategies to aid in this process of reinvention has been one of the focuses in the recent writings of Latinas. Over the past decade, the act of writing has continued to be a critical part of the process for identity reconstruction and forchallenging dominant discourses.
Furthermore, the act of writing gives a voice to Latinas, as they have been historically silenced and made invisible by hegemonic discourses. Writers such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Sonia Saldívar – Hull, and Chela Sandoval for example emphasize the importance of the writing space. Anzaldúa views this location as a space where the “new mestiza consciousness”is created. In addition, the act of writing for U.S. Latina writers has involved strategies that serve to reconstruct their identities and to counter the oppressive ideologies of dominant discourses. Such reconstructions and transformations are the reasons for which the term “transformative” can also be used to describe this space. By analyzing, exposing, and breaking down dominant ideologies(deconstruction), the Latina has been able to rewrite and reconstruct her image as well as take an active part in telling her own version of history (revisionism), navigating the various strategies available to her to achieve this purpose (differential movement).
In order to understand the strategies that help re-invent the identity of the Latina, it is important to consider the history ofLatinas in the United States and the race issues that they have faced as they struggle to maintain ties between their homelands and the United States. Latinas have been classified historically as the Other, a result of dominant discourses on race, class, and gender, which views all minority groups such as women, African-Americans, and Latinos as a separate, inferior group as opposed to theWhite, upper class, male majority. Because of this, and in light of such a fast-changing U.S. culture, the Latina has become one of the many silenced female voices in American society. As Sonia Saldívar-Hull explains: “[The] work [of Latinas] has been ignored by the men and women in charge of the modes of cultural production” (46).
Instead of recognizing the important contributions made byLatina writers, the growing Latino population has instead had the effect of “commodifying” the presence of Latinas in the U.S., as Ellen McCracken explains in her work New Latina Narrative (1999). McCracken states that the power of dominant discourses threaten to “erase, misinterpret, romanticize, tropicalize, and/or locate Latinas as the Other” (5). McCracken thus contends that the image of U.S.Latinas gets filtered or propagated through publishing practices which view writers such as Sandra Cisneros and Cristina García as the exotic Other (13). To combat the image of the Latina that has been projected in mainstream publishing, Latina writers have employed strategies to assert their identities and to challenge the language and images seen in dominant discourses.