(De)forming woman: Images of feminine political subjectivity in Latin American literature, from disappearance to femicide
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The question at the root of this study is why the political formation of state power in Latin America always seems to be accompanied by violence against women. Two threads run throughout: an analysis of the relation between image, violence, and subject formation; and the application of this theory to the political violence exerted upon feminine subjectivity in relation to state formation in Latin America. I trace the marginalization of women through experimental dictatorial fiction of the Southern Cone up to the crisis of femicide that has emerged alongside the so-called narco-state in Mexico in the wake of NAFTA. I argue that Latin American feminist thought has sought to articulate itself as a post-hegemonic force of interruption from within the dominant order, a project that is problematized in the face of the perverse seriality of the femicide crimes and the intolerable yet enigmatic power of which they become a forced representation. The first chapter stages a close reading of Salvador Elizondo's Farabeuf (1965), locating in the novel's engagement with a photograph of the Chinese Leng Tch'é execution a theory of the relation between cut, image, and the female body that understands the subtraction of the feminine as the foundation of the political. The second chapter turns to the structure of dictatorial violence in Argentina, looking at Alejandra Pizarnik's La condesa sangrienta (1965) and Luisa Valenzuela's "Cambio de armas" (1982) alongside the Argentine Revolution and the Dirty War, respectively. Pizarnik's meditation on Elizabeth Bathory's crimes highlights both the fetishization of the subversive body and the inevitable failure of sovereign power to designate itself. Valenzuela's fragmentary story deconstructs the notion of erasure at the heart of the regime's use of forced disappearance by staging a perverse sexual relation within an environment of domestic confinement. The third chapter examines Diamela Eltit's critique of neoliberalism during the Pinochet regime in Chile through her cinematographic novel Lumpérica (1983) before following this economic trail northward to the femicide crisis that has ravaged the Mexican-U.S. border since 1993. I demonstrate that both oppressive power structures--official and unofficial--are founded on the fusion of economic and gender violence. A reading of Roberto Bolaño's 2666 through the notion of the exquisite corpse situates this urgent crisis in relation to globalization and the postmodern world of images, technology, efficiency, and instantaneity for which it becomes a disturbing emblem.