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Critical Dialogues in Latinx StudiesA Reader$
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Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas and Mérida M. Rúa

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479805198

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479805198.001.0001

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Querying Central America(n) from the US Diaspora

Querying Central America(n) from the US Diaspora

(p.81) 6 Querying Central America(n) from the US Diaspora
Critical Dialogues in Latinx Studies

Maritza Cárdenas

NYU Press

This chapter examines how representations from the US Central American diaspora both question and expand understandings of Central Americanness. It focuses on the ways EpiCentroAmerica—a Los Angeles–based poetry collective who view themselves as Central American but reject a single unifying vision of home by seeing themselves as part of a transnational community—challenge traditional configurations of Central America(n). This queering of the signifier Central America(n) is best exemplified in the literary expressions of Maya Chinchilla’s poem “Central American-American'' and Marlon Morales’s poem “Centroamerica is.” In both poems, Central America is depicted as an amorphous abstract and material entity. Chinchilla and Morales’s representations elude a stable definition of Central America(n) as well as dislocate Central America from its dominant cartographic image of a landmass by questioning its ontological validity. Indeed, both works advance a thoroughly reconfigured notion of Central America—one that accounts for its diaspora that is a part of Central America while being apart from the geopolitical borders of the isthmus. In this sense these works, in conjunction with the artistic work of the EpiCentros, provide alternative visions of Central America that both contest and disrupt the North/South America divide.

Keywords:   Central American-American, Central America, Latinx, diaspora, poetry, queer

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