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Blood Lines

Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature

By Sheila Marie Contreras

Publication Year: 2008

Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature examines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of an indigenous strand of Chicano cultural politics. In particular, this book exposes the ethnographic and poetic discourses that shaped the aesthetics and stylistics of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism. Contreras offers original perspectives on writers ranging from Alurista and Gloria Anzaldúa to Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alma Luz Villanueva, effectively marking the invocation of a Chicano indigeneity whose foundations and formulations can be linked to U.S. and British modernist writing. By highlighting intertextualities such as those between Anzaldúa and D. H. Lawrence, Contreras critiques the resilience of primitivism in the Mexican borderlands. She questions established cultural perspectives on “the native,” which paradoxically challenge and reaffirm racialized representations of Indians in the Americas. In doing so, Blood Lines brings a new understanding to the contradictory and richly textured literary relationship that links the projects of European modernism and Anglo-American authors, on the one hand, and the imaginary of the post-revolutionary Mexican state and Chicano/a writers, on the other hand.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Chicana Matters


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p. vii


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. 1-8

Chicanas and Chicanos are indigenous to the Americas. But in the United States, Indigenous relationships to land and Indigenous identity are determined by a system of categorization that privileges tribal affiliation and blood quantum. Even if Indigenous descent is recognized, the concepts of tribal identity and genealogy may appear unrelated to Chicana/o culture and history...

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Introduction: Myths, Indigenisms, and Conquests

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pp. 9-42

Chicana/o indigenism draws from a wealth of source material, directly and indirectly, acknowledged and unacknowledged, creating cultural narratives that rely prominently on mythic accounts drawn from anthropology and archaeology. This study is about the complications and paradoxes of Chicana/o literary indigenism, most especially this reliance on the mythic...

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Chapter 1: Mexican Myth and Modern Primitivism: D. H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent

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pp. 43-70

Henry Moore’s British Museum holds as part of its permanent Mexican Gallery Collection a pre-Columbian stone sculpture of a serpent, the heavy figure coiled around itself, flitting tongue frozen on the verge of striking, a gripping representation of both ancient and contemporary Mexico available to Europeans who might not ever travel to the Americas. Archaeological convention argues that pre- Columbian figures of serpents or snakes...

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Chapter 2: The Mesoamerican in the Mexican-American Imagination: Chicano Movement Indigenism

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pp. 71-104

Chicana/o poetics encompasses a range of textual expressions, including fiction, drama, poetry, and political manifestos. The movement period of this literary history is marked by the thematic recurrence of particular iconic images. For example, student and offcampus activist participation in the farmworker unionization movement...

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Chapter 3: From La Malinche to Coatlicue: Chicana Indigenist Feminism and Mythic Native Women

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pp. 105-132

Chicana feminists have used the motifs of indigenist nationalism to advance some of the earliest critiques of relations of power within the movement, eroding the cultural authority of patriarchy to sustain Chicano revolutionary thought. In her groundbreaking essay on Chicana feminism, Norma Alarcón writes that “the reappropriation of ‘the’ native woman on Chicana feminist terms marked one of the first assaults...

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Chapter 4: The Contra-mythic in Chicana Literature: Refashioning Indigeneity in Acosta, Cervantes, Gaspar de Alba, and Villanueva

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pp. 133-162

Clearly, Chicana/o indigenist use of the Mesoamerican mythic has been inventive and productive. As a tool to challenge dominant narratives that positioned U.S. Mexicans as foreign immigrants, as an indictment of state and religious institutions of imperialism, and as a powerful critique of masculinist nationalism and Anglo-American racist patriarchy...

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pp. 163-166

Chicana/o indigenism emerges in relation to the complex histories of “discovery,” theft, and exhibition that made popular knowledge of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica possible. State and private economic sponsorship of excavation, removal, and preservation of artifacts, and the global circuits through which these objects moved, enabled European and Euro-American pursuit of the pre-history of Mexico...


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pp. 167-186

Works Cited

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pp. 187-202


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pp. 203-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794054
E-ISBN-10: 0292794053
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292717961
Print-ISBN-10: 0292717962

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Chicana Matters
Series Editor Byline: Deena J. González and Antonia Castañeda series editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 309904326
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Blood Lines

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indigenous peoples in literature.
  • Mexican Americans in literature.
  • Alurista -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Villanueva, Alma, 1944- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Anzaldúa, Gloria -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Identity (Psychology) in literature.
  • Cervantes, Lorna Dee -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • American literature -- Mexican American authors -- History and criticism.
  • Literature and myth.
  • Ethnology -- Methodology.
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