Crossing Borders, Crossing Margins: Immigrant Women and Transnational Narrative in Contemporary Spain

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Shepherd, Neica Michelle
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Crossing Borders, Crossing Margins analyzes transnational literature and films produced from the 1990s to the present and draws upon literary theory, feminist theory, and cultural studies. This dissertation examines how the elaboration of Spanish national identity is contested, diverted, and re-shaped in representations of feminine immigration in a seemingly post-national era characterized by porous national borders. Several of the tropes deployed in the contemporary texts call attention to the psychological and ideological legacies of Spain's conflictive histories with the Americas, Africa, and even Europe, evincing the vestiges of traumatic histories that continue to bear upon individual and collective structures of nationalistic identification This negotiation of immigration, representation, and agency serves as the basis of the dissertation.My dissertation begins with an examination the intersection of race and gender in nationalistic discourse in 20th century works by Carmen Laforet, Luc¡a Etxebarria, and Manuel Guti rrez Arag¢n. I then read contemporary depictions of immigrant life in Gerardo Mu¤oz Lorente's novel Ramito de hierbabuena, Nieves Garc¡a Benito's short stories"Cailcedrat" and"Gabriela" and the films Extranjeras (dir. Helena Taberna 2003), Princesas de µfrica (dir. Juan Laguna 2008), and En la puta vida (dir. Beatriz Flores Silva 2001) alongside theories of documentary narrative, including Latin American testimonio, Roland Barthes's philosophical approaches to photography, and documentary film theory. I examine the figure of the immigrant woman as prostitute and chart a genealogy of prostitutes in Spanish literature in 19th century novels by naturalist Eduardo L¢pez Bago to recent literary works by Lourdes Ortiz, Laila Lalami, and Fernando Le¢n de Aranoa's film Princesas (2005). My dissertation culminates in an analysis of contemporary Spanish multiculturalism as a demanding and risky ideal, as figured in the work of Najat el Hachemi and in the films Flores de otro mundo (dir. Iciar Bolla¡n 1999) and I love you, baby (dir. Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes 2003). In these final analyses I am interested in how gender and racial difference structure the modes through which the Other is imagined and represented in relation to the society in which she attempts to reside.
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
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