"I feel a revolution occur in my womb": Mapping cognitive and somatic transformation through readings of mestiza maternal facultad

Mercado-Lopez, Larissa
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Though recent works on mestiza mothers provide important critiques of patriarchal motherhood, as well as re-visionist retellings of maternal archetypes, the actual flesh of the mestiza maternal subject remains considerably under-theorized. To respond to this absence, I examine somatic, psychic, and discursive constructions of mestiza maternal embodiment, reading maternal bodies through the trope of "mess" in published and unpublished memoirs, critical writings, and poems by Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, and Laurie Ann Guerrero. I merge Chicana theories of the body with feminist phenomenology to indicate how the enmeshed social, historical, and bodily experiences of maternity and mestizaje forge a somatic and social consciousness. In my development of maternal facultad, a defense mechanism honed through the bodily and social experience of oppression and motherhood, I explore the embodied nature of pregnancy and lactation on maternal knowledge formation. Constructing a theoretical lens through the synthesis of works in Chicana body theory and feminist epistemology, I propose that the embodied experiences of mestiza maternity enable mestiza mothers to read their bodies in ways that challenge hegemonic constructions of motherhood, allowing for the creation of new traditions of empowered maternal identity. The mestiza maternal body, this work indicates, occupies a critical subjectivity that further illuminates the effects of power on gendered and racialized bodies.

My dissertation demonstrates important discursive and somatic connections between mestizaje, maternity, and sexuality, and interrogates feminist approaches to consciousness that do not adequately account for the experiences of mestiza maternal embodiment and subsequently render invisible the knowledges gleaned from those embodiments.

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Chicana Feminism, Feminist Theory, Latina Studies, Maternity, Mestizaje, Phenomenology