Dominicanas Unbound: Religion, Culture and Politics in Dominican and Dominican American Women's Literature
What is the connection between contemporary Dominican literature and Louis Althusser's theories about how the ruling classes are able to maintain power? I conclude that there is a sector of Dominican literature that gives an inside look at how groups that have traditionally been classified as marginalized, specifically women, the poor and Afro-descendants have survived within specific hegemonies since the early twentieth century on the island and in the U.S. Angie Cruz, Nelly Rosario, Maritza Loida Pérez, Julia Álvarez Marta Rivera and Marisela Rizik are Dominican and Dominican American women whose novels illustrate the daily struggles of those who do not belong to the mainstream, yet make a space for themselves in which to live despite the challenges they face in their respective eras and countries. I examine these challenges in the context of two of Althusser's best known theories, those of ideological state apparatuses or ISAs (such as religion, education, family, law, politics, culture, the media and the economy) and repressive state apparatuses or RSAs (such as the government, military, police, courts and prisons).I utilize three main ideologies through which to analyze the literature discussed in this work: religion, culture and dictatorship, or two ISAs and one RSA. With regards to religion I argue that the novels, Soledad, El tiempo del olvido, Geographies of Home and In the Time of the Butterflies illustrate the marginalized's ability to use their faith systems to attempt to avoid being oppressed by the dominant society whose religious system does not offer them relief. I then propose that Soledad, Song of the Water Saints, and He olvidado tu nombre show how subaltern subjects are affected by the culture of the ruling classes, specifically how it often causes the subaltern subject to find itself caught between its own cultural norms and those of mainstream society producing a hybrid identity or a completely new one that is forced to assimilate. Lastly, I explore the effects of the Trujillo regime upon those who opposed it in In the Time of the Butterflies, Let it Rain Coffee and El tiempo del olvido by discussing how the novels' characters represent Antonio Gramsci's organic and traditional intellectuals coming together to effect political change in the Dominican Republic.
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