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Cooptation, Complicity, and Representation

Desire and Limits for Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century Mexican Fiction


Shigeko Mato

Is the affiliation between intellectuals and hegemony unbreakable? When intellectuals attempt to retell history from its bottom side, or when writers try to represent the so-called marginalized subject, are they not simply reinforcing the perspective and agenda of society’s hegemonic currents? Cooptation, Complicity, and Representation engages in a discussion of the problem of this potentially unbreakable affiliation between intellectuals and hegemony. Through five twentieth-century Mexican literary works: Pedro Páramo (1955, Juan Rulfo); Hasta no verte Jesús mío (1969, Elena Poniatowska); three short stories from Ciudad Real (1960, Rosario Castellanos); Llanto: Novelas imposibles (1992, Carmen Boullosa); and Muertos incómodos (falta lo que falta) (2005, Subcomandate Marcos and Paco Ignacio Taibo II), this book attempts to examine the contradictory phenomenon that emerges when intellectuals’ desire to represent a marginalized subject or history clashes with their own limited ability to fully know the marginalized. No critics have compiled these five seemingly unrelated Mexican texts in order to scrutinize such a contradictory tendency. Cooptation, Complicity, and Representation provides an innovative way to connect the five texts by delineating, within specific Mexican historical and geopolitical contexts, how and why intellectuals have difficulty moving away from the reproduction of «otherness», when they attempt to represent a marginalized subject or history. This book can be useful for those who are interested in the Spanish American boom literature, twentieth-century Mexican literature, women writing, testimonial writing, subaltern studies, postcolonial studies, historical novels, and cultural studies.


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Chapter 3. Insufficiency of Benevolence in Ciudad Real:


Chapter 3 Insufficiency of Benevolence in Rosario Castellanos’ Ciudad Real Cuando descubrí esta cualidad, busqué un trabajo que llenara ciertas exigencias éticas y cierto deseo de justicia. Solicité incluso, sin manifestar posibilidad alguna de ser útil, servir en el Instituto Nacional Indigenista. Desde mi infancia, alterné con los indios. Después de adquirir una perspectiva, me di cuenta de cómo eran los indios y de lo que deberían ser. Me sentía en deuda, como individuo y como clase, con ellos. Esa deuda se me volvió consciente al redactar Balún Canán. Asumirlo trajo como resultado otros libros y la actividad de dirigir el teatro guiñol en el centro que el Instituto Indigenista mantiene en San Cristóbal. Rosario Castellanos, Interview with Beatriz Espejo, quoted in ¡Ay vida, no me mereces! by Elena Poniatowska Rosario Castellanos, speaking to Beatriz Espejo, a Mexican writer and critic, expresses the main reason why she applied for a position in Instituto Nacional Indigenista (INI): to be useful to the indigenous communities in Chiapas to which she felt she was greatly indebted (Poniatowska 93).1 Elena Poniatowska states “Rosario se complace, se siente culpable, quiere pagar su tributo” and describes Castellanos’ mission of paying back to the indigenous communities through her services to the INI as one of her “objetivos altruistas” (93). In a sense, Castellanos is altruist because of her Insufficiency of Benevolence in Ciudad Real 58 commitment to disseminate the injustice, misery, and violence brought to the Mayan people...

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