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E r o t ic s a n d P o litic s in N in e t e e n t h - C e n t u r y N e w M exico: E u s e b io C h a c o n ’s Tr a s l a t o r m e n t a l a c a l m a E r l i n d a G o n z a l e s - B e r r y Scholars of literature produced by mexicanos in the Southwest after the annexation of Northern Mexico to the United States have viewed this literature as an extension of a long literary tradition dating back to the first colonial texts written about the region by Spanish explorers.1 Few among them have raised questions regarding the problematic nature of viewing this literature as an uninterrupted tradition, thereby failing to acknowledge that there indeed exists a disjuncture between a colonial literature produced from the perspective of the “imperial I/eye” and that produced from a subaltern position.2 Recent writing in postcolonial theory, however, prompts us to reconsider previous nonproblematical readings and to examine both discontinuities and extensions of colonial legacies in the writing of the Spanish/mexicano/ Chicano borderlands. This paper focuses on a nineteenth-century nuevomexicano novella which participates in a self-conscious, postcolo­ nial nation building project. This project, however, does not develop in a context free of colonial influences; it is, in fact, the product of a strug­ gle waged under new colonial conditions.3 My reading of Eusebio Chacon’s novella Tras la tormenta la calma has been informed by Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism and Doris Sommer’s Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America. In his 1991 edition of Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson describes the origins of any nation as “an imagined political commu­ nity” (6). Emphasizing the link between “print-as-commodity,” vernacu­ lar languages, and the subsequent rise of national consciousness, Anderson states, “[T]he convergence of capitalism and print technology on the fatal diversity of human language created the possibility of a new form of imagined community” (46). Anderson also elaborates the con­ nection between the novel and newsprint in the act of mapping out the contours of national identities, and Doris Sommer’s work likewise seeks out these connections in nineteenth-century Latin American fiction. E r l in d a G o n z a l e s - B e r r y Spanish language newspapers in nineteenth-century New Mexico clearly demonstrate the function of the press as an avenue for imagin­ ing a unified nuevomexicano community in a moment of its disposses­ sion and threat to its cultural survival. Crucial to that projection was perhaps the most obvious mark of cultural difference: a “new” vernacu­ lar language (now Spanish, which heretofore had been the hegemonic language) which for the most part was considered to be the sine qua non linguistic standard of and for the imagined nation.4 According to Gabriel Meléndez, it was to an emerging group ofperiodiqueros, or news­ papermen, that the task of imagining and defending the community/ nation befell (11): In acquiring print technology and the tools of literacy, and in bringing organizational structure and discursive coherence to a culture of print, Nuevomexicanos exhibited tremendous adaptability with respect to technological and political change after 1848. This tendency toward accom­ modation has been characterized . . . as the “strategies of power and community survival.” These strategies repre­ sented nonacquiescent forms of agency that permitted Nuevomexicanos to habituate themselves to external political exigencies while managing to perpetuate their language and cultural practices. (Meléndez 30) This group, however, did not limit itself to newsprint; a fair number of these periodiqueros also tried their hand at poetry and fiction, often using these genres as vehicles for broadcasting their cultural and political agendas. While much of their work appeared in the region’s newspapers, whatever was published separately was issued by the same presses that printed the weekly journals. It would of course be erroneous to deduce that the growing sense of nuevomexicano...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 58-74
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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