Re-centering Central America : women writers undisplaced
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"Re-centering Central America: Women Writers Undisplaced" endeavors to unpack and unravel the meaning, genealogy and implications of the US's patriarchal relationship with Central America, formative of a jumble of misconceptions of "otherness" on a global scale. This legacy is mirrored in the region's cultural production. Central American discourse itself has long ignored or marginalized "other" subjectivities. I trace a genealogy of Central American narrative discursivities by women to interrogate questions of female subjectivity and the inadequacy of hegemonic identitary formulations that often elide gender, ethnicity, and other regulatory trajectories in subject-formation. My dissertation is the first project in the US to examine how an undercurrent in which colonially derived social relations underwrite contemporary Central America is interrogated and re-visioned in literature produced by women. I focus on six Central American authors: Yolanda Oreamuno (Costa Rica), Claribel Alegría (El Salvador), Carmen Naranjo (Costa Rica), Rosario Aguilar (Nicaragua), Gloria Guardia (Panamá), and Jacinta Escudos (El Salvador). No systematic study has looked at how literary techniques and representations by these authors articulate a literary counter-statement to the patriarchal legacy informing Central American modernity between 1949 and the present, as well as to traditional formulations of subordinate subjectivities in which norms, rhetorics and assumptions of machismo and social exclusion of women inhabit and still animate the US's understanding of its inhabitants. My dissertation tracks the continuity between these authors' work to establish a problematization of sovereign subjectivity by refiguring the nature of the speech act as in flux, so as to eliminate authoritativeness and open up space for contestatary speech and agency. Judith Butler establishes that agency is achieved when the subordinated subject expropriates the "sovereign conceit" of the speech act, revealing discourses capable of destabilizing and even dismantling the epistemologies of the so-called "sovereign subject." By establishing a broad definition of sovereignty as any identitary construct that presupposes integral subjectivity or that attempts to impose such myths on subordinate subjects, I analyze the implications of these authors' narratives in destabilizing and revealing the farce of sovereign subjectivity.