Forgetting the Alamo or Blood Memory by Emma Perez

February 1, 2010 at 8:05 pm (Multicultural Lit)

In her “Introduction” to the “Decolonial Imaginary” Emma Perez identifies two problems with the traditional practices of history. First, that women are typically historicized as adjuncts of men, if they are historicized at all. As Perez points out women of color are rarely included in mainstream forms of history.

She also brings up the issue of valorization of certain types of narrative. “Literature is reduced to or expanded by the “imaginary” while only history is “real” (xvii). This issue of the reality of history, and “imaginariness” of literature reinforces the ghettoization of women. Literature, and novels in particular, are often seen as the province of women, because they are perceived as imaginary, romantic, fluffy, silly, inconsecquential and a whole host of other unflattering adjective.

Taking these two problems together, Perez has a difficult task to tell the history of a chicano woman, particularly a chicano woman who rejects the categories that are made for her by men (heterosexual, homebody, mother, etc.). She tackles this problem in the only way that she can, given the critical framework that she has laid out, by writing a historical narrative or historical fiction.

My question is how does the reader know that this is supposed to be history? Unless the reader is astute (or possibly a grad student) they are unlikely to read the acknowledgements section, in which Perez states that she has revised her novel to make the plot more compelling, a sure sign that this is intended to function as a history. Other than that the reader is given only clues. I think that the title is one clue, with its reference to the dot on the timeline of traditional history, in its invocation of the Alamo. The mainstream historical reference is then undermined by the alternative title “Blood Memory,” a title which invokes the more feminized rhetorical tradition that Perez is going to engage for her novel. However, not a lot of other clues or engagement with mainstream history leap off the page at me. Are there others that I missed? Am I being too literal?

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