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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 5. Subcomandante Marcos’ Performance:


Chapter 5 Subcomandante Marcos’ Performance: Intellectual Consciousness and Appropriation On January 1st, 1994, when NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) went into effect, the Zapatista revolutionary resistance group, EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) rose up armed, in several cities in Chiapas, with whatever weapons they could find (hunting rifles, machetes, stakes, etc.), in order to fight for their rights to land access to which poor peasants and indigenous people under the ejido law of 1992 (Hayden 2–3) had been deprived.1 As one of the subcommanders of EZLN, Subcomandante Marcos led this insurgency and fought with the Zapatista soldiers. Since that uprising, Marcos has been responsible for divulging the motives and purpose of the insurrection and for articulating the necessity of continuing their resistance movement, to both the rest of Mexico and the international public audience through his writings posted in the internet and newspapers. Ilan Stavans, quoting Marcos’ words, “[m]y job is to make wars by writing letters,” indicates that Marcos is “[n]ot a politician but a storyteller—an icon knowledgeable in iconography, the new art of war, a pupil of Marshall McLuhan” (“Unmasking” 50).2 In fact, he has become internationally recognized as “an icon” of and a spokesperson for the EZLN by using his weapons of pen/keyboard and printing/electronic media to disseminate indigenous Chiapanecans’ struggles and battles against the Subcomandante Marcos’ Performance 100 Mexican government’s pro-NAFTA propaganda and anti-Zapatista operation. Although the Mexican government has uncovered Marcos’ identity as Rafael Sebastián...

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