War, Gender, And State Formation In Latina War Stories From The Mexican Revolution To The War On Terror

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By defining war as a form of state violence that naturalizes racial oppression and restrictive gender norms, my dissertation renders an understanding of war's effects on Chicana/o and Mexican culture and gender formation. Whereas most studies of war culture bypass a consideration of women's experiences within militarized societies, I examine how Latina writers disrupt the state's self-legitimizing war discourses with counternarratives of their own. In Chapter 1, I study the relationship between state formations, culture, and war. Focusing on Latina writers, my dissertation asks: How do state formations naturalize war? How do women intervene in war's discursive formations? How are war and gender articulated? In Chapter 2, I examine Mexican nationalist and Chicano cultural nationalist discourses that feature revenant icons like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. Sabina Berman's Entre Villa y una mujer desnuda (1994), Sandra Cisneros's "Eyes of Zapata" (1991), and Helena Maria Viramontes's "The Long Reconciliation" (1985) present feminist literary critiques that counter these reiterations. By re-centering female desire in revolutionary historiography, the authors generate critical analyses of patriarchal master narratives. In Chapter 3, I analyze Maria Cristina Mena's critique of postrevolutionary nationalism in The Water-Carrier's Secret (1942). Drawing on economic development theories, I show how Mena rejects official narratives of revolutionary progress, anticlericalism, and Indian assimilation. Next, I situate Mena's Boy Heroes of Chapultepec (1953) within discourses of Good Neighborism and the Cold War. Mena's text repudiates the historical revisionism during the 1950s that attempted to reframe the US-Mexico War of 1848 within an anti-communist context. Chapter 4 examines the role of Latinas/os in the modern US military. I analyze the various effects of neoliberalism on military protocol -- recruitment methodologies, military advertising, and voluntarism -- to examine how the military targets Latina/o recruits. I read Elena Rodriguez's Peacetime (1997), a novel about a Chicana soldier, along with published accounts of Latinas in the Iraq War. I further consider the complex role of Latina/o immigrants as non-citizen soldiers. Analyzing Latina war stories of life in boot camp and on the front lines, shows how Latina soldiering has profound implications for conceptions of citizenship, nationalism, and militarized gender norms.

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Latina War Stories


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dissertation or thesis

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