Wise Latinas: Expressions of Subversion in Latina Writings

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
contact email: 

This panel examines writings by Latinas during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It utilizes Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” figure as a framework for how different writers identify and subvert different forms of social oppression in the U.S. This panel explores how these subversions are created using specific aesthetic conceits that are culturally nuanced and thus provide moments of community fashioned healing and empowerment that are specific to their own communities while also making spaces for solidarity between Latinas.

In 2001, Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed the need for what she described as a “wise Latina” who can read and critique oppressive social structures and their impact on communities of color in the United States. Justice Sotomayor also described how explaining what it means to be Latina can be extremely difficult, and academic responses that identify categories of subjectivity are often inadequate for truly conceptualizing the experience of being a “Latina.” Subsequently, her position in the U.S. Supreme Court has continued to point to discrepancies and the realities that “differences” based on race, gender, and sex make on the everyday experiences of individuals and communities in the United States. This position has become all the more poignant given current legal policies and stigmas attached to Latinos. This panel utilizes Justice Sotomayor’s lecture and work as a framework to explore Latina literature as one avenue that Latinas take to explore and critique oppression utilizing social justice acumen. Based in a Cultural Studies field, this panel utilizes a Latina Feminist framework, as described by authors such as Gloria Anzaldúa and Lillian Comas Diaz, to examine possible issues of identity construction such as gender performance, sexuality, community construction, and racialization. However, rather than this panel focusing only on how Latinas respond to power, this panel identifies moments of empowerment and healing that are forged within literature by different writers of different Latino communities. It identifies this diversity of expression as an outcome of the non-monolithic nature of Latino culture across the United States. In reading and exploring these differences, this panel illustrates the potential for solidarity that wise Latinas make possible within their literature.

This panel is for NeMLA’s 2017 Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland (Marriott Waterfront, March 23-26, 2017). If your proposal is accepted, you need to have current NeMLA membership to register for the conference. Please upload your abstract at: