The National Body in Mexican Literature
Collective Challenges to Biopolitical Control
Palgrave Macmillan 2015
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network January 10, 2018 Pamela Fuentes
In The National Body in Mexican Literature: Collective Challenges to Biopolitical Control (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), Rebecca Janzen explores the complex interaction between the national body created by the rhetoric of the 1910 Mexican revolution and those bodies that did not find a space in the new national project. Through the literary fictional work of Jose Revueltas, Juan Rulfo, Rosario Castellanos, and Vicente Lenero, the book explores the contradictions of the state through the literary representations of people that lived at the margins of its ideology. Drawing on feminist and disability studies, Janzen explores unusual bodies—peasants, prostitutes, indigenous people, and garbage sorters, among others—and their intense relationship of control, resistance, and power with the government and its bureaucracy. In these literary works, illness, body fluids, or bodies reduced to their basic functions demonstrate the inconsistencies of a national project that failed to fulfill promises such as agrarian reform, health services or labor rights. Each chapter of the book shows an analysis deeply engaged with the profound changes of almost three decades. The characters created by Revueltas, Rulfo, Castellanos, and Lenero span from the 1940s to the end of the 1960s, which allows Janzen to show not only the construction of a national discourse and its flaws, but also its interaction with other important institutions, such as the Catholic church.
Pamela Fuentes is an Assistant Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Pace University—NYC campus.