By Julie Avril Minich
A quantity within the American Literatures Initiative
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Additional info for Accessible Citizenships. Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico
By reframing Islas’s work in this way, this chapter reveals how attention to disability might contribute to scholarship about the role of nationalism and citizenship in ongoing struggles for racial justice. enabling aztlán / 35 Islas and Chicano Nationalism4 In the early 1970s, as Islas was writing the manuscripts that would become The Rain God and Migrant Souls, Chicano nationalism was defined by El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, a manifesto composed in 1969 at the First National Chicano Liberation Youth Conference.
In the analysis that follows, I will elaborate how The Rain God and Migrant Souls depart from the project of El Plan, which privileges the able, laboring bodies planting the seeds, watering the fields, and gathering the crops, to propose instead a vision of Aztlán predicated on disability. In this way, the novels exemplify Tobin Siebers’s assertion that “the inclusion of disability changes the definition of the political unconscious in surprising ways” (Disability Aesthetics 58). Expanding the work of Fredric Jameson, Siebers argues that “the political unconscious may also regulate aesthetic forms, excluding those suggestive of broken communities and approving those evocative of ideal ones” (57–58).
Yet despite his refusal to envision the writer as a vehicle for a singular, essentialized communal voice, and despite his brutal criticisms of Chicano nationalist writers, these essays reveal Islas to be struggling with the role of literature in the formation of community. They show his commitment to forging a new space alongside Alurista and his contemporaries in the Chicana/o literary canon, not only for himself but also for the students he mentors. These Miquiztli essays thus illuminate the vision of Chicana/o community and cultural family that emerges from Islas’s novels.
Accessible Citizenships. Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico by Julie Avril Minich