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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 4. Impossibility of Re-writing the Once Vanished History:


Chapter 4 Impossibility of Re-writing the Once Vanished History: Llanto: Novelas imposibles Carmen Boullosa is a contemporary Mexican writer who often questions one-dimensional interpretations of historical events in her literary creations.1 In an interview conducted in English by Anna Reid, Boullosa expresses her hope of writing multiple ways of presenting historical occurrences through literature: I do think that we have to write the history or history in different ways, because if we do not, people who have the power will use history in the wrong interests and only to be more unfair to the rest of humanity. In that strange way I hope to influence, but I never have the sense that I am a healer or a priest, no, never. I mean literature is never a whodunit for humanity, it never leads to a complete solution of anything, it’s only a burden of questions. (147) Boullosa perceives literature as a way of bringing in “a burden of questions” through which she wishes to complicate the ways of looking at historical events. For Boullosa, literature functions, not as a healer’s treatments nor as priest’s guides, which seek a definite answer or solution, but as an on-going interrogatory space for questioning the so-called official history; which is history as it is written by people who have the power to legitimize specific narrations of historical events as the official record. Impossibility of Re-writing the Once Vanished History 80 Boullosa is not alone in her opinion of literature as “a burden of questions,...

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