Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bolivar and the Allegory of America

In my essay, "Madre of Queen of the Mountain," I discuss different understandings of the relation between community and its representations. The theme of "imagined communities" emerges as a focal point in my reading of the various New World literatures with which I am familiar.

In Pedro José Figueroa,'s portrait, Simon Bolivar, Liberator and Father of the Nation, 1819, the doll or muñeca held by Bolivar represents the fertile, healing and natural qualities of the Americas that are often associated with indigenous peoples. Qualities lost under modernism and the spread of capitalism, qualities that cause nostalgic dreams. Bolivar is the liberator, the founding father of a new regime. What is the source and motive of betrayal, a theme so common in the history of the western hemisphere? How does African heritage figure into this mix? These questions arise when considering the mix of peoples and loyalties that constitute the "new world" -- not only its promise of multiculturalism, but the inescapable history of genocide, enslavement, and environmental degradation.


In order to understand "community" and history, I ask what is the signifigance of Reveron's identification with native peoples? What can be made of a similar identification with indigenous Americans in "Our America" by José Martí. Martí writes:

“American intelligence is an indigenous plumage. Is it not evident that America itself was paralyzed by the same blow that paralyzed the Indian? And until the Indian is caused to walk, America itself will not begin to walk well. [AAA,” 337, qtd. Retamar 20]


The desire to animate the muñeca may be ritualistic, speak to a felt alternative, a crucial aspect of emergent identity. Can we not also ask, "When does she speak for herself?"