Practices of Difference(s)


Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 112 Illustrations: Published: April 2004

Latin American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

Nelly Richard is one of the most prominent cultural theorists writing in Latin America today. As a participant in Chile’s neo-avantgarde, Richard worked to expand the possibilities for cultural debate within the constraints imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship (1973–1990), and she has continued to offer incisive commentary about the country’s transition to democracy. Well known as the founder and director of the influential Santiago-based journal Revista de crítica cultural, Richard has been central to the dissemination throughout Latin America of work by key contemporary thinkers, including Néstor García Canclini, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, and Diamela Eltit. Her own writing provides rigorous considerations of Latin American identity, postmodernism, gender, neoliberalism, and strategies of political and cultural resistance.

Richard helped to organize the 1987 International Conference on Latin American Women’s Literature in Santiago, one of the most significant literary events to take place under the Pinochet dictatorship. Published in Chile in 1993, Masculine/Feminine develops some of the key issues brought to the fore during that landmark meeting. Richard theorizes why the feminist movement has been crucial not only to the liberation of women but also to understanding the ways in which power operated under the military regime in Chile. In one of her most widely praised essays, she explores the figure of the transvestite, artistic imagery of which exploded during the Chilean dictatorship. She examines the politics and the aesthetics of this phenomenon, particularly against the background of prostitution and shantytown poverty, and she argues that gay culture works to break down the social demarcations and rigid structures of city life. Masculine/Feminine makes available, for the first time in English, one of Latin America’s most significant works of feminist theory.


“The translators have done an eloquent job of rendering Richard’s prose in English, keeping quite loyal to the original. . . . Readers will reposition their own perspectives on debates that have been somewhat ignored in the U.S. academy in recent years and will likely refine their own theoretical apparatuses, thanks to Richard’s challenging essays.” — Marcy Schwartz , Intertexts

“These collections of essays have been extremely well translated by Alice Nelson and Silvia Tandeciarz. . . . [They] provide a clear overview of Richard’s writings and will help to introduce an important cultural critic to a new English speaking readership.” — Deborah Shaw , Bulletin of Latin American Research

"[A]n important document of the clandestine work that emerged during the Pinochet dictatorship, and it is a valuable glimpse into the thoughts and actions of one of Chile's most radical cultural critics." — Brian Bergen-Aurand , Clamor

"[P]rovocative. . . . Richard's writing both transcends and refuses to move beyond its moment. It is irrevocably rooted in its near-journalistic social, political, and cultural commentary, in its Latin American context, and in debates within Chilean feminism." — Masha Raskolnikov , GLQ

"In addition to speaking more generally about the Chilean cultural scene, both of Richard's books contain some very fine readings of particular works of art. — Adriana Michele Campos Johnson , CR: The New Centennial Review

“At last, Nelly Richard’s work is available for English-language readers. A leading figure in the theater of Latin American critical debate, Nelly Richard has written with unorthodox brilliance about the Chilean transition to democracy, North-South cultural relations, and the value of aesthetic intervention to rethinking the politics of difference.” — Francine Masiello, author of The Art of Transition: Latin American Culture and Neoliberal Crisis

“The Chilean publication of this book and of its companion volume (The Insubordination of Signs) confirmed and advanced Nelly Richard’s reputation as one of the foremost critical voices of the age. Richard’s brand of cultural critique, informed by a thorough attention to contemporary forms of subjectivity, is unmatched in the force of its theoretical articulation, its aesthetic sensitivity, and its sharp deployment of political strategies. Nelly Richard is today an essential reference for intellectual work in Latin America and beyond.” — Alberto Moreiras, author of The Exhaustion of Difference: The Politics of Latin American Cultural Studies

"Nelly Richard wrestles with the materiality of critique so that it maintains the inscriptions of antagonism, making it an indispensable instrument for an effective democratic culture. In Masculine/Feminine, that antagonism is explored through a consideration of gender and how authority and power weave their apparent neutrality and objectivity in the masculine register. The disruptive feminist strategies deployed by the writers and artists considered here beckon to an elsewhere where creativity, fantasy, pleasure, taste, and style mingle in the ‘figural and strategic repertoires of seduction and sedition.’” — George Yúdice, author of The Expediency of Culture: Uses of Culture in the Global Era


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Nelly Richard is a renowned Latin American cultural studies theorist. Born in France and a graduate of the Sorbonne, Richard has lived in Chile since 1970. Among her many books are La estratificación de los márgenes and Políticas y estéticas de la memoria.
Silvia R. Tandeciarz is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at the College of William and Mary. She is the author of Exorcismos, a book of poetry.
Alice A. Nelson is a Member of the Faculty at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She is the author of Political Bodies: Gender, History, and the Struggle for Narrative Power in Recent Chilean Literature.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Translator’s Acknowledgments vii

Translator’s Preface ix

Note on This Translation xiii

ONE Spatial Politics: Cultural Criticism and Feminist Theory 1

TWO Does Writing Have a Gender? 17

THREE Politics and Aesthetics of the Sign 29

FOUR Gender Contortions and Sexual Doubling: Tranvestite Parody 43

FIVE Feminism and Postmodernism 55

Notes 69

Bibliography 81

Index 87
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3314-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3302-9
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