Latin American Feminist Literature: Deborah Castillo’s “Talking Back”

One of the courses I was enrolled in during the final semester of my university education was titled Latin American Women’s Perspectives. The course aimed to educate persons about feminism and how it is perpetuated in Latin American culture, and it was a very interesting and informative course.

One of the readings we were assigned was by Debra Castillo, specifically her chapter “Towards A Latin American Feminist Literary Practice” from her text Talking Back. I thought I would attach an assignment I created addressing this particular chapter in hopes of educating others about this sector of gender studies.

Enjoy!

Debra Castillo’s chapter “Towards A Latin American Feminist Literary Practice” from her text Talking Back examines reasoning as to why Latin American Feminist Criticism is a component of academia that fails to receive an adequate amount of attention when compared to other sectors of Feminist theory. She acknowledges that Latin American Feminist theory is not explored to the same extent as other types of feminism because it is underdeveloped though stresses the importance of studying this sector of feminism to diminish the stigma that surrounds it. This paper will argue that Latin American Feminist theory is stigmatized by hypothetical constructions which communicate the belief that because Latin American countries are perceived as underdeveloped they are less worthy of feminist study when compared to the First World, ultimately preventing Latin American Feminist Theory from being thoroughly examined.

Castillo makes reference to the Euro-Centric discrimination Latin American regions are subjected to. She quotes Jean Franco’s statement to support her argument when he says: “‘… the conclusion is that the Third World is not much of a place for theory’” (Castillo 3). Castillo goes further in her examination of the stigma surrounding Feminist theory in Latin America when she explains how:

… In this era of gender- and race-consciousness, the First World continues to subject the Third to analyses that relegate its cultural production to that group of activities traditionally associated with the implicitly inferior feminine realm. (Castillo 3)

Castillo furthermore references Franco in his acknowledgement of Metropolitan discourses that surround the notion of the Third World:

(1) Exclusion–the Third World is irrelevant to theory; (2) discrimination–the Third World is irrational and thus its knowledge is subordinate to the rational knowledge produced by the metropolis; and (3) recognition–the Third World is only seen as the place of the instinctual” (504). (Castillo 3)

By acknowledging how the First World and the Metropolitan associates the Third World with inferiority in terms of its feminist and cultural theory, Castillo successfully displays reasoning as to why Latin American Feminist theory is stigmatized by hypothetical constructions. She communicates how the prevalence of First World philosophies and beliefs suggest that Latin American countries are perceived as slow in development and therefore inferior to First World regions in terms of feminist study. It is important to recognize Castillo’s emphasis on the unjust opinions that exist and are supported by the First World despite efforts being made to achieve gender and race equality, and how such opinions perpetuate sexist and racist attitudes towards Latin American Feminist study.

Castillo, in her chapter, recognizes that Latin American Feminist theory is not examined to the same extent as other types of feminism due to its association with the Third World. This paper has argued that Latin American Feminist theory is stigmatized by hypothetical constructions which communicate the belief that because Latin American countries are perceived as underdeveloped they are less worthy of feminist study when compared to the First World, ultimately preventing Latin American Feminist Theory from being thoroughly examined. Castillo unveils how dominant First World perspectives suggest that Latin American countries are slower in progression and are therefore inferior to First World regions in terms of feminist analysis, and how such perspectives perpetuate sexist and racist attitudes towards Latin American Feminist study. Latin American Feminist theory is a field of study that requires more attention in order to abolish the stigma and inaccurate stereotypes surrounding it.

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