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VOLUME 5, NUMBER 1       BACK TO VOLUMES

Rewriting Exile, Remapping Empire, Re-membering Home:Hualing Nieh’s Mulberry and Peach
By Yu-Fang Cho

Informed by recent inquiries into modes of mobility in transnational contexts, this paper examines Hauling Nieh’s Mulberry and Peach ([1976] 1998), which thematizes a Chinese woman’s forced flight across China, Taiwan, and the U.S. during and after World War II, by situating it in the political economy of the post-WWII US-Taiwan-China triangle. Building upon Caren Kaplan’s analysis of Euro-American modernist narratives, this paper argues that Mulberry and Peach, through destabilizing linear narrative structure and modernist tropes of mobility and home, displaces the modernist narrative of exile and unsettles its ahistorical aestheticism to highlight the often forgotten connections between western imperial expansion in Asia and the post-1960s Chinese immigration to the U.S. By portraying the female body as a site where the confrontation of multiple intersecting relations of ruling is staged and subversion emerges, this novel also challenges the appropriation of the woman’s body as a national symbol in modern Chinese nationalist discourse.

 

Translated story from Regina Rheda: Miss Carminda and the Prince
By Lydia Billon

English translation of “Dona Carminda e o Príncipe,” an original story about the tyranny of humans over humans and other animals, published in Portugese in 2002 in the anthology, Histórias Dos Tempos Escolares (São Paulo: Nova Alexandria). The writer, Regina Rheda, is the 1995 winner of Brazil’s prestigious Jabuti award for her collection of short stories, Arca sem Noé–Histórias do Edifici Copan. In 1994, she received thw French award, Maison de l’Amérique Latine for the story, O Mau Vizinho” (“The Neighbor from Hell”). Her first novel, Pau-de-Arara Classe Turística, was published in 1996.

 

She was Returned Home: The Narrative of an Afro-Guyanese Activist
By Kimberly Nettles

Utilizing the life history narrative of Andaiye—an activist within the Red Thread Women’s Development Organisation in Guyana—this essay explores the significance of race, place, and imaginings of “home” in Caribbean women’s political engagements. While feminists have argued that the feeling of being “at home” elides the reality of the violence that often happens there, this work illustrates how the longing for a space to call home contiues to resonate deeply for women, “third world” peoples, and “first world” people of color who have been subject to forced or voluntary migration and exile from their lands or cultures of origin.

 

Art Comes for the Archbishop: Alma Lopez, The Virgin Guadalupe and the Chicana Unconscious
By Luz Calvo

This essay discusses three images by Alma Lopez, Our Lady (1999), Encuentro (1999) and Lupe & Sirena in Love (1999). A young Los Angeles-based Chicana artist, Alma Lopez is an emerging talent in the field of digital collage. Her work has already engendered a good deal of controversy for its bold engagement with the traditional iconography of Chicano/a and Mexican identities. In particular, the archbishop of the diocese in Santa Fe, New Mexico waged a campaign against the inclusion of Lopez’s Our Lady in a recent exhibition.
Deploying semiotic and psychoanalytic theory, I trace the way that meaning is constructed by Lopez’s art and the kinds of subject positions that are constituted by encounters with it. I outline the psychoanalytic concept of identification in order to trace the kinds of desires that are embodied in or thwarted by images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I find that the essay, “Guadalupe the Sex Goddess” (Cisneros, 1996) opens an important space for Chicana desire. Through a reading of Cisneros’s essay, I find that Lopez’s art makes explicit the racialized sexual desire that fuels all allegiance to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Chicano/a Culture.
Following semiotic theory, I outline the process of selection and combination at work in Lopez’s image. I find that Lopez’s art references postmodern, rasquache, and queer sensibilities: she selects bits and pieces from the image environment of the borderlands and combines them in ways that provide fodder for Chicana queer desire.
In “Art Comes from the Archbishop,” my methodology is to perform a close reading of a small number of works from Lopez’s already substantial oeuvre and to trace the genealogy of her artistic production in Chicana feminist art, writing, and criticism.

 

Fertile Cosmofeminism: Ruth Ozeki and the Transnational Reproduction
By Shameem Black

This essay explores how transnational feminist visions of fertility emerge in the fiction of the Japanese American writer Ruth L. Ozeki. In her novel My Year of Meats (1998), Ozeki exposes how transnational corporations, patriarchal privileges, global media, and medical establishments attack and manipulate women’s childbearing bodies across the globe. Female reproductive bodies become charged social spaces where competing visions of globalization do battle to control the processes essential to creating life. Uniting women across race, nation, and class to oppose these challenges to their fertility, the novel exploits specific tactics of transnational political activism and extends them to shape a powerful cosmopolitan feminist rhetoric. In particular, Ozeki develops and deepens discourse of violence against women that dominated transnational feminist networks in the 1990s. As her Japanese and American characters strive to defend their fertility from the imperatives of profit, patriarchy, and racial purity, Ozeki’s novel illuminates a cosmopolitan feminism that tries to avoid both the silence of cultural relativism and the arrogance of imperialist intervention.

 

Julia Alvarez and the Anxiety of Latina Representation
By Lucía M. Suárez

Through her writing, Julia Alvarez has created multiple gyres spun out of central questions that have concerned her throughout her career, such as, “Who Am I?” and “How do I fit into this world?” Her immigration from the Dominican Republic brought with it a new identity (immigrant, diaspora), which has driven Alvarez to write, interrogating identity, nation, and memory. She concludes that she is “a writer who is Latina, and not a Latina who is a writer.” In a world of shifting borders, writer is her critical signifier.
In reviewing the past of the country that shapes her, she has come to discover many gaps in history, and has turned to fiction to revive Dominican national heroines like the Mirabal Sisters, Salomé Ureña, and Camila Henríquez Ureña. Following in Camila’s footsteps, Alvarez proves that the diasporic condition is a rich and vital way of life that encompasses the Dominican Republic, the United States, and every other imagined and/or real community and memory in between.

 

Edwidge Danticat’s Kitchen History
By Valerie Loichot

This paper examines a young Haitian exile’s struggle against amnesia in the United States. Sophie, the narrator of Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) re-members: she not only reinserts the past into the present but also heals her fractured self through food, which functions as the site of trauma as well as its cure.

The actions of cooking and eating are, for Danticat’s diasporic women, a source of pain and alienation. I show, however, that women reclaim these actions by making them a venue for aesthetic creation and a site of memorialization. The repetition of cooking gestures that transcend their disjointed selves embody their past. By intertwining the actions of writing and cooking–presenting the American and the Haitian respectively, the urban capitalist and the rural, the male and the female, Danticat inscribes the memories of generations of silenced Haitian women in her text.

 

Of Monsters and Mothers: Filipina American Identity and Maternal Legacies in Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons
By Melinda Luisa de Jesus

One Hundred Demons is an autobiographical, cartoon exploration of events and memories that have deeply affected Lynda Barry. It deftly exhibits the hallmarks of Barry’s powerful storytelling aesthetic: her deliberately “naive” graphic style complements the brutally honest musings of its young narrator and often harsh subjects of the strips themselves. In this article I analyze the themes of Filipina American feminism (peminism). I maintain that these cartoons contribute to the process of decolonization through their probing the alienation and deracination that characterizes the Filipino/American experience. Resisting cultural imperialism’s call to reject and forget her history and culture, Barry struggles to reclaim her mother and her mother’s stories. Her efforts underscore the importance of mother/daughter storytelling to enable the comprehension of the past’s exponential repercussions for future generations.

Barry’s cartoons are available online at: http://www.salon.com/archives/2000/mwt_barry.html

 


Fashionable Bodies: Reading the Body in Passing and the Rhinelander Case
By Miriam Thaggert

“Fashionable Bodies” examines the 1925 Rhinelander annulment trial, in which a mixed-race woman displayed her naked body to prove that her white husband knew her racial identity, and the significance of the trial to Nella Larsen’s Passing. The novel and the trial illustrate the violence of the gaze that attempts to determine the ontology of black femininity. Larsen’s use of letters encourages us to read her character’s body as an unreadable text, in contrast to the trial’s use of letter and in contrast to a history of reading the accessible, “legible” black woman’s body.

 

New World Babylon Remix (Honduran punta)
Poem by Sheila Maldonado


Book review of Dorothy E. Mosby’s Place, Language, and Identity in Afro-Costa Rican Literature
By Kwame Dixon

 

Book review of Yen Le Espiritu’s Home Bound: Filipino American Lives Across Cultures, Communities, and Countries.
By Trinidad Linares

 

Cover Art entitled, “Braiding Hair.”
By John Bidwell