Resisting bodies: margins as a site of political transgression in the works of Diamela Eltit, Guadalupe Santa Cruz and Pedro Lemebel
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This dissertation examines how the margins of society functioned as a site of political resistance during the Chilean dictatorship and transition to democracy. The three chapters center on Par la patria (1983) by Diamela Eltit, Cita capital (1992) by Guadalupe Santa Cruz, and La esquina es mi coraz6n (1995) and Loco afcin: cr6nicas del sidario (1996) by Pedro Lemebel. The characters in these works have suffered the violence and economic inequality of the military regime and struggled to address questions of justice and historical memory under the discourse of consensus. The characters disrupt binary oppositions and question univocal truths through their cultural identity, gender and sexuality. The first chapter examines how the main character Coya and the female prisoners use their gender, sexuality and cultural identity to pervert the maternal role assigned to women by Pinochet and rewrite his "official" version of history. The second chapter explores how Sandra's corporeal reading of Santiago and its past challenges the patriarchal structures which inform Octavia's vision. The third chapter examines the figure of the loca in Lemebel's chronicles. The term loca refers to homosexuals and transvestites, and encompasses differences of race and class. The locas ' sexuality and constructed identity undermine the patriarchal values that inform state institutions and national identity and surpass the rigid limits imposed by theTransition. The writers recognize that political transformation must begin on the linguistic and symbolic level. The narrative imposed by the military regime did not correspond to the violence and oppression that the citizens were experiencing. These authors argue that the transitional government whitewashed the past and diminished the voices of Pinochet's victims in order to close that violent chapter of Chile's past. These discourses caused a rupture between language and its ability to represent experience. Using fragmentation, neologisms and experimental syntax, the writers contest discourses of power and discover alternative modes of representation. The textual composition of these narratives mirrors the realities that the writers seek to portray. The structures that the writers dismantle through experimental language are those that their characters subve1i using their gender and sexuality.
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