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“To Meet a Broader and Wiser Revolution”

Notions of Collectivity in Contemporary Mexican American Drama

Frank Obenland

Pages 271 - 290


This essay discusses the interventions of Cherríe Moraga’s dramatic and essayistic work in Chicano/a discourse on collectivity. In her dramatic and essayistic writings, Moraga moves beyond
a feminist and queer critique of the patriarchal and heterosexual premises inherent in traditional
Chicano cultural nationalism. In Heroes and Saints and Watsonville, Moraga questions
a narrow, individualistic definition of cultural identity and emphasizes the importance of collective
action for social change. Read from the viewpoint of a Lacanian notion of the tragic, Heroes
and Saints argues in favor of both the need for violent resistance to economic exploitation
and for a more inclusive definition of Chicano/a collectivity. Exploring the social and economic
conflicts between a local Hispanic community and white factory owners, Moraga’s Watsonville
employs Mexican folk religion and indigenous spirituality in order to introduce a revisionist
mythology of communal belonging. Against the background of Jean-Luc Nancy’s philosophy of
community, Moraga’s dramatic vision can be seen to articulate an idiosyncratic communitarian
vision that questions and complicates existing accounts of Mexican American collectivity.


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