Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Jeanne Garane

Abstract

This project explores the racial and gender decolonization of New York and Curaçaoan women in a select group of novels, paintings and performance text by women from Curaçao and New York City. The Curaçaoan novels are: Aliefka Bijlsma's Gezandstraald [Sandblasted] (2007); Loeki Morales' Bloedlijn Overzee: Een Familiezoektocht [Overseas Bloodline: A Family Search] (2002); Myra Römer's Het Geheim van Gracia [The Secret of Gracia] (2008). The Curaçaoan painters are: Jean Girigori (1948), Minerva Lauffer (1957) and Viviana (1972). The New York novels and performance text are: Black Artemis' Picture Me Rollin' (2005), Angie Cruz's Soledad (2003) and Nelly Rosario's Song of the Water Saints (2002) and Josefina Báez's Dominicanish (2000). The ways the women characters, figures, images and voices align to subvert gendered delineations as well as the stifling cultural and colonial imprints on their bodies and their selves in Curaçao and New York are central to the decolonizing project explored here. I argue that although the female characters, text and images in the artworks reflect upon the limitations imposed on them in their city spaces, they are at the same time encouraged by these same urban spaces to explore multiplicity and foreignness, ironically allowing for a unique urban culture to develop along-side the nationally reinforced homogenous identity/culture. This comparative analysis suggests that cosmopolitan urban spaces are the locations where grassroots cultural change and projects of decolonization can gain center stage. This comparative analysis further suggests that it is in these city-borders that subaltern women with multiple cultural affiliations can syncretize with other women on a psychic and political level to produce new and liberated ways of being and of forming (de)territorialized alliances.

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