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Tarica, Estelle. The Inner Life of Mestizo Nationalism
2008, University of Minnesota Press
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Added by: Adriana Clavel-Vázquez
Publisher’s Note: Tarica examines Rosario Castellanos’ Indigenism in her literary work, particularly in her fictional autobiography Balún Canán (The Nine Guardians). Tarica argues that the novel is an examination of the interaction of Castellanos’ mestiza and female identities, and that it concludes with the constitution of an “utterly lonely figure”. Nevertheless, Tarica argues that the inclusion of other protagonists, such as the protagonist’s Mayan nanny, allow for Castellanos to examine the coloniality of power and the appropriation of indigenous identities. According to Tarica, this allows Castellanos to present the protagonist not as a heroine, but as an antiheroine that offers an “absolutely partial version of national events”, and who manages to affirm herself only in “a place of solitary wandering: Uranga’s Nepantla as in-betweenness.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Rosario Castellanos’ examination of mestiza identity as being in-between proves an interesting test to the criticisms of Indigenismo suggested by Villoro. It reveals a complex relation between the mestiza protagonist and the Indigenous cause. Castellanos also offers an opportunity to think about mestizaje from a feminist perspective. When it comes to mestiza, rather than mestizo, consciousness, we find a double displacement. She is out of place insofar as she finds herself in between European and Indigenous cultures. But she is also out of place because, as a woman, she cannot fully be a citizen of the mestizo nation and neither can she go back to an Indigenous culture to which she doesn’t belong.

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