Selenidad

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Selenidad[1] is a book written by Deborah Paredez that explores the afterlife effects that the death of Tejana music sensation Selena had and its connection with Latina/o identity and Latinidad in the United States during the 1990s. Paredez describes the meaning of Selenidad and the connection between latinidad; the process of Latina/o identity formation, in the United States.

Selenidad functions a significant mythology to express transnational Latina/o culture between national borders. Selenidad rose from the nativist conception during the 1990s in the United States. Paredez argues that

Selena's death galvanized Latina/o efforts to publicly mourn collective tragedies (such as approved anti Latino legislation in California, Proposition 187 and Proposition 229) and to envision a brighter future."[2]

Through the analysis of Selena's commemorations and celebrations of her life, Paredez looks into how the acts of remembering Selena parallel with Latina identity production in both body and in memory.[3]

After Life of Selena[edit]

Paredez book introduces the term Selenidad to describe the dynamic and vibrant afterlife of Selena and her significance to the Latina/o community.[4] Selena forged a path for Latina women to help understand what it meant to be Latino in the 1990s. Latina women were able to position themselves within the Selena pathway that facilitated their becoming of a Latina. They identified with Selena's voluptuous body, never-dyed hair, working-class ethics and aesthetics, and her humble upbringings, qualities in a performer that were unique and remained unchanged throughout her career. Selena's "voluptuous" body challenged the normative ideological image of American super-stars.[5] Selena's physical hyperfemininity and her costumed body, combines masculine and feminine essentials in an effort to break away from the traditional normative gender.[6] Through Selenidad Latinas gain a sense of representation in mainstream American media.

Significance of Selenidad[edit]

Paredez describes the metaphoric view in Selenidad,

Her timbale-propelled kicks and flares also provide a metaphor for the everyday migrations of Latina/os as they move creatively within and in moments beyond the daily hustle to earn a living in the aftermath of NAFTA and the new nativism of the mid-1990s".[7]

The large amount of migration from Latin America into the United States during the 1990s created a hostile environment for Latinos in the United States that led to a rise in racism and segregation. In this political climate Selena became an idol for Latina/os and a symbol of societal representation. Selenidad became a term to validate Latina identity in the United States.

It gave Latinos, especially young women, the hopes to "cross over" to American mainstream, and therefore complete the process of transcultural exchange from Latino culture to American mainstream that Selena was never able to complete. Paredez states

Identification with Selena's body often provided Latinas with a way to expose the racism embedded into the double bind of excess and erasure circumscribing representation of Latina sexuality[8]

It became a way to create new forms of identity that for once, rejected the hegemonic, dominant standard ideologies of American society of what was to be a beautiful, feminine Latina in the United States in the 1990s. To identify with Selena, in this context meant to

speak out against dominant US representation of feminine ideals but also enable young Latinas to expose how these racial and gendered hierarchies are internalized by Latina/o communities and are ultimately borne by Latina bodies [9]

Latino Identity and Culture[edit]

Paredez explores the different ways of capitalization and reproduction of Latino culture and their interesting effect in foreshadowing what Latinidad and Latino identity would become. In this fashion, the theatrical depiction of Selena's life, Selena Forever functions as a way to condemn past tragedies and anti-Latino sentiments that marked the 1990s and imagine a future where Latino bodies would not be invisible in mainstream America. Latinos "speaking in the political context mounted and engages in national dialogues about the ways that Latinidad counted".[10] Selenidad asserts the relationship between emotional and political economic structures that support national, racial, and gendered identifications.[11] Selena Forever was also a way to promote Latino Census participation that compensated for the under counting of Latinos in the 1990 Census. The play operates as a surrogational field for the convergence of claims to and contestation over Latinidad. The process of surrogating, what is known as "the enactment of cultural memory by substitution, is a common practice through which a community remembers and reproduces itself."[12] It also provides Latinos with a space to assert their transnational Latina/o citizenship.

Selenidad Within the Queer Community[edit]

Selenidad creates a space for binary identities to develop within the Latino queer community. In this space queer and Latino identities were understood as separate. It "activates one such sphere wherein queer Latinas/os productively and imaginatively misidentify within the prevailing heternormative family structuring of Latinidad and with the white racial politics of queer camp culture" [13] Selena's song "Como La Flor" outreached to the queer community in representing their struggle and challenges to overcome marginalization. Through Selena's influence, queer performers felt comfortable dressing up in drag queen by imitating her costumes and music. Selena's death a way for queer performers to portrait realness, survival, resiliency, racism and all other tragedies faced on daily basis. It also provides Latina lesbians with feminist, girl empowerment ideals that have helped acknowledge the struggles against the traditional patriarchy social norms in the Latino culture. Selena gives the queer community a voice and representation that they eagerly searched for.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Entire title: Selenindad : Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory
  2. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 9. Print.
  3. ^ Staff. "Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory". review. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. xii. Print.
  5. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 38. Print.
  6. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 42. Print.
  7. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 44. Print.
  8. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 123. Print.
  9. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 138. Print.
  10. ^ Paredez, 2009
  11. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. xiii. Print.
  12. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 121. Print.
  13. ^ Deborah. Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. Durham [NC: Duke UP, 2009. 159. Print.