By Julie Avril Minich
A quantity within the American Literatures Initiative
Read or Download Accessible Citizenships. Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico PDF
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Extra resources for Accessible Citizenships. Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico
Ana Castillo’s Peel My Love Like an Onion (1999) depicts a Chicana flamenco dancer with post-polio; Cecile Pineda’s Face (1985) tells the story of a Brazilian man living in a favela who loses his face in an accident and, unable to afford cosmetic surgery, reconstructs his own face using needles, thread, plastic from discarded toys, and procaine. Reading the two novels together, I reveal how this use of the overcoming narrative form comments upon the continued presence of the national in what Ramón Saldívar calls the “transnational imaginary” of globalization.
Aesthetic objects, then, foment a preference for healthy, whole bodies over diseased or disabled bodies; nondisabled bodies are believed to indicate robust, sound communities while disabled bodies signify social decay or political crisis. One result of this correlation is an implicit justification for the political exclusion of people with disabilities and others whose bodies do not fit a narrow national ideal (often due to racialized or gendered corporeal attributes). Building upon Siebers’s analysis, it becomes clear that Islas’s novels prompt new theoretical inquiry into the body politics of decolonial nationalism.
He goes on to cite Islas as an example of gay Chicano writers who “fail to discuss directly the cultural dissonance that Chicano homosexual men confront in reconciling their primary socialization into Chicano family life with the sexual norms of the dominant culture” (256). Furthermore, Moraga herself has written, somewhat dismissively, that Islas’s “writing begged to boldly announce his gayness” but contains only “vague references about ‘sinners’ and tortured alcoholic characters” (Last Generation 163).