This dissertation uses an interdisciplinary lens to theorize the multiple ways in which contemporary forms of Chicana/o cultural production disturb and extend beyond specific "colonial complexes" or seemingly ossified compounds of time and space. Specifically, I examine how Chicana feminist theory in conjunction with Marxian and poststructuralist theory; the literary work of Bárbara Renaud González and Sandra Cisneros; the folklore of La Llorona; the urban legend and social performance of San Antonio's Ghost Tracks; and the visual art of the collaborative Project MASA (MeChicana/o Alliance of Space Artists) disrupt, redistribute, and surge beyond colonial cartographies, re-imagining and enacting alternative horizons of possibility or decolonial imaginaries. I ground my study in San Antonio, Texas, whose Chicana/o cultural production and neo-colonial geography has received scant scholarly attention, to bring to the fore both the specificity of colonial legacies and to connect these legacies to larger neo-colonial (trans)national geographies.
I engage and extend diverse theorizations of the ghostly--or, that is, the contingent and ephemeral structures of desire, difference, history, lived experience, and memory--to bring into purview how colonial legacies inhere in the present and collectively enunciate what I term a "spectral materialism": that which is profoundly felt and experienced, but not necessarily visible or intelligible through language. I further argue that although this spectral materialism is animated by particular cultural and socio-spatial logics, it also gestures toward a more general embodied form of knowledge production that acknowledges the ways in which the ostensibly immaterial always already imbues the material world. This dissertation, finally, intervenes in Chicana/o, Latina/o, and American Studies through critiquing the dialectic (a dominant analytic for ascertaining meaning from cultural production) as a binary colonialist ontology that severs the material from the immaterial, as well as articulates a more supple, complex, and inductive analytic for understanding how Chicana/o cultural production generates meaning through lived experience and indexes the potential for other postcolonial futures.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2011. Major: American studies. Advisor: Dr. Louis G. Mendoza. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 228 pages.
Watson, Cathryn Merla.
Spectral materialisms: colonial complexes and the insurgent acts of Chicana/o cultural production..
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