Transnational alliances, US third world feminism, and Chicana Mestizaje in Ester Hernández's visual art

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Fall 2009


This article examines connections between US third world feminism (Chela Sandoval) and recent developments in transnational feminisms. A focal emphasis of the article is the notion of oppositional consciousness, which, as postulated by Chicana critic Chela Sandoval, constitutes a mobile strategy whereby the trans-cultural, trans-gendered, transsexual and transnational are activated in order to defy ideology and equalize power on behalf of the colonized. Ester Hernández’ visual art is used to illustrate the goals of the movement and the method of oppositional consciousness. The analysis demonstrates that, through the tactics implemented by Chicana mestizaje, Hernández is able to grasp the local in a dialectical relation with the global, destabilizing universal discourses of class, race, gender and nation. Furthermore, by turning the mestiza body into the site where the material conditions of neocolonial histories are played out, the artist is able to rupture ideology, propelling new strategies for Chicana liberation. In synthesis, through the transnational lens, US third world feminism is viewed as a deviation from the normalized category we call “US feminism,” a movement of its own that provided – as Hernández’ work illustrates – a profound understanding of difference within the United States, and a new and provocative way of articulating marginality.


Latino Studies



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