Similar to Kristin's question, "can we read the literary texts in this course as products of women reclaiming their (own) images for their own uses," I am interested in how building upon Gutierrez Chong's suggestion that "women have been used by and for nationalism," we can see how women writers use such manifestations of nationalisms to critique and respond to their objectification and/or exclusion (15).
Specifically, I am thinking of Coronado's "Freedom" and "To Spain" poems, in which she is at once implicating herself in the nation-building process, and critiquing narratives of nationalism. Indeed, if Gutierrez Chong posits "women as intellectual creators of ideas of homeland and nation" (11), Coronado's poems seem to illustrate this notion directly.
Gutierrez Chong focuses specifically on the trope of the "woman homeland," and Coronado begins "To Spain" evoking such an image:
"What is the Black slave woman doing,
is she singing or crying?
Oh, grand lady Europe,
who keeps her in your splendid service (1-4)....
I who was nourished in her very womb,
who suckled at her breast,
her ardent milk, I lovingly revere her,
and I demand to know if at the feet of her tyrant
the slave rests, sings, or weeps.
Rise up, people who also owe
your life to this dear mother" (9-16)
In this poem, Coronado makes immediate use of a racialized gender to not only utilize the nation as woman trope, but to also call attention to the hierarchy that she sees existing between her beloved Spain ("the Black slave woman") and the rest of Europe (who Coronado critiques as exploiting her homeland). While on the one hand Coronado's crude comparison of the once powerful Spanish empire to a black slave woman throws the legitimacy of her claim into question (by eliding the actualized colonial violence the Spanish enacted on bodies of the indigenous and/or enslaved), her use of this image also suggests a way of responding to the nation as woman trope. Not only does this image differentiate between the varying positionalities of women that the category "woman" erases, Coronado also utilizes this image as a way of critiquing the process of nation building. Scolding those "who also owe [their] life to this dear mother" (16) and yet cannot act as a collective unit, Coronado criticizes the ways in which "One raises his battle tent/ in a corner of Spain/and elects himself king,/ and one traces in the sand,/writing and dispensing/ the laws that he alone follows." Positing these nameless figures as akin to "aimless Arabs," Coronado once again shows how women contributed and/or reinforced their own nationalisms by staking claims against the (national) identities of others, thus eradicating the possibility of women as innocent bystanders with no stake in the process of "masculinized" nation building. And yet, conscious of the ways in which their limited rights circumscribed how they could take part in the nation building process, Coronado uses "Freedom" to critique women's oppression:
The young men are smiling,
their elders are joyful
because, they say, my sisters,
that they have gained freedom for the people (1-4)....
I am pleased...for the men.
But as for us, the women,
I applaud not, I feel nothing (16-18)...
Freedom! What does it mean to us?
What do we gain, what will we possess?
Imprisonment by tribunal
and a needle by right? (21-24)...
But I tell you, my comrades,
that the law is but for them,
that women do not count,
nor is there a Nation for this sex (42-45)
If, as Gutierrez Chong suggests, the "success of nationalism depends on transmission and diffusion" (20), then in response to Daniela's question of "what is literature's role in this building or rebuilding of a nation?" Coronado seems self-consciously aware that it occupies a very central role. Using her poem as a source of a more gender equitable nation building at the same time that she rhetorically claims "nor is there a Nation for this sex," Coronado's position as woman writer positions her as reproducer of national boundaries, active participant in national struggle, and transmitter of national culture (20), three central areas in in which Gutierrez Chong suggests women have been central to the process of nation building.
To push on Daniela and Kristin's points a bit, and in dialogue with the Sommers article, I would like to ask how women writers position themselves/become positioned as critiquers and reinforcers of nationalist projects. Does the age of globalization allow for the possibility of overcoming national boundaries and interests (especially if as Daniela suggests "language" and "homeland" in the singular might no longer apply), thus allowing for more ethical and intersubjective interactions between self and other, or does globalization simply bring about new forms of nationalism (economic, capitalist, religious)?