Czareena Dotchev Latino Literatures English 255

A qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Dear Professor Alvarez,

Thank you for a wonderful semester. I really found the concept pie paragraphs to be useful to learn and have applied the method when writing for other classes. Overall the structre of the class was efficient because after the three years that I have been in college I have never truly understod the structure of an academic article. The class blog idea was great because it helped me save on printing costs and the hassle of trying to find a place to print from. However, since the blog is something that was new to mee I found myself bringing in a paper copy for one of my responses and then forgetting to post it on the blog until it was too late unfortunately. I do like the fact that you had us writing the whole semester becasuse when it came time to gather my thoughts for the final paper I had somewhere to start from. Thank you for all of your help and guidance this semester. I wish you the best of luck in your new job in Kentucky.

Sincerely,

Czareena

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Diaspora, which has several meanings in modern usage, covers the exile of Jewish populations as well as similar pattern of migration amongst different groups. The dispersion of a group of people from their homeland is something that creates conflict both within the group as well as with the interactions other groups has with the displaced individuals. Mc Clennen argues that Dorfman recognizes the complexity in his justification of his own identity and because of this offers different subjective perspectives in this writing that shows an understanding of the concept that outside actors such as the mainstream culture will have a different perspective on the immigrant assimilation experience. If the term “hybrid pastiche” is defined from the context McClennen provides it becomes obvious that Dorfman’s work is a combination of the two definitions of the word. The former meaning that Dorfman’s work is an artistic imitation of sorts of past experiences and a medley strung together to evoke a comprehensive understanding in the reader the and the latter meaning suggesting much more confusion and the jumbling of experiences. Dorfman’s work is therefore not dichotomous and should not be seen as structured in that way just as in the same token the gradation of hyphenated identity varies amongst individuals and their experiences

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Ironically Dorfman by the definition of his parents comes from a balanced combination of experiences that allow him to see both takes on the formation of identity that exists between immigrants, however; he is more complicated because he brings his own experiences to his work. As McClennen writes:

So, while it may seem that Heading South, Looking North suggests a bicultural identity, a binary between north and south, culturally Dorfman is far more hybrid: he is North and South American, Jewish, thrice exiled, a survivor of trauma, and a writer well-versed in world literature. What is the most vexing for the scholar of his work, though, is that he draws on these multiple cultural influences throughout his text, while also, still, reinforcing the notion that dualities, especially that of north versus south, English versus Spanish, hold particular identitarian purchase. (McClennen 173)

Dorfman possesses life experiences that define him as a hybrid person between North and South America but his religion, traumatic experiences, historical family exile and scholarly qualities. McClennen sees this diversity within Dorfman as problematic to scholars who aim to study a dichotomy when looking at hyphenated American’s and their literary works. Though Dorfman is a diverse man his works have the ability to highlight all of his listed diversities as if they are the central defining factor in his identity. Identitatian ideas suggest that a formation of one’s own identity is off the basis of cultural experiences and forces. Dorfman’s work highlights the problems created by cultural forces that drive the immigrant experience towards positivity or negativity. Essentially Dorfman’s ability to portray polar conditions while explaining the cross cutting complexities of variation allow the reader greater understanding of the immigrant experience in finding his or her new life and forging the path to hyphenated identity.

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Assimilation through the lens of the immigrant is shaped by experiences and self-perception of the act as having positive connotation or negative connotation. Howerer, even when an individual chooses assimilation in order to adapt to his or her new environment it is not always the case that they are accepted. In the video “Through My Grandfather’s Eyes – A Story About American Immigration and Hyphenated American” the idea that hyphened-identity is condemned as a detriment to both the individual and American Society. The video tells a story of immigrants from Europe craving the title of “American” because of its connotations of freedom and opportunity. It goes on to say that later immigrants have not had the same sentiments of wanting to be “American” but rather have aimed for the hyphen as an excuse to maintain their own culture.

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

The “white” race, though socially constructed has had tremendous influences in the Americas at the expense of the exploitation of other races. By positioning all other races as inferior, achieving power is now directly related to being white. As Eichstedt writes:

While it is useful to find ways to deconstruct the myth of whiteness, it is somewhat disingenuous to claim an ethnic identity that is supposed to be used to supplant the “racial” location that whites, as a group occupy-particularly since “white,” thought a fiction, is socially meaningful in terms of life chances. To disavow one’s white identity is to miss the point of how legal, economic, political, and social systems in the United States have operated to advantage people on the grounds of being white, not on the grounds of being Polish, Irish, and so on. (Eichstedt 453-454)

In the political and social structures of the United States the precedent has been set that whiter is better. When groups migrated from Europe they were initially distinguishable but over time those traits that have distinguished those groups have diminished. The diminishing of these idiosyncrasies between the groups leaves American society with a diversity of white people who now have an opaque view of their heritage and can not hyphenate themselves as other immigrants do. These people may not want to hyphenate themselves either because it has become common belief that the removal of the hyphen has translated into success by first being defined as a “real American.” Success has been measured in ones ability to assimilate to the point where the individual no longer associates to their ethnic background. This set up is especially problematic for Latino immigrants who do not appear white but also affects those who can disguise their heritage and assimilate and loose their ethnic identity.

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Multiculturalism is the concept that a level of tolerance should be used when living in a society with a diversity of cultures. It promotes acceptance of new ideas rather than the force of assimilation. When the video “Andrew Klavan: Multiculturalism Explained” suggests that multiculturalism has failed because of the immigrants coming from “hell holes” a sentiment of negative attitudes towards non-assimilated persons is perpetuated. The problem of racism between who can be viewed as assimilable and who is a forever minority can not be resolved when a supremacy of one culture, in this case “white culture” oppresses other cultures both indirectly and directly.

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May 26th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

The question then arises if assimilation has two components, the first being the actions of the immigrant and the second being the reactions of society. The issue then becomes of what groups can fully achieve the latter and what that means for these individuals and their experiences with discrimination in the United States. As Gloash-Boza explains:

Some Latinos/as are holding onto their national origin identifiers and refusing to hyphenate themselves, even in the third generation. Others are taking on a hyphenated American Identity and still others are assuming the pan-ethnic label. Which path these individuals take depends on their experiences in the United States. Those Latinos/as who appear “white” and do not face discrimination are more likely to assimilated into U.S. society and become unhyphenated Americans. They, like immigrants from Europe, can disappear unnoticed into the melting pot, if they so choose. However, those Latinos/as who face discrimination and who are not perceived to be white are less likely to be viewed by others and consequently by themselves as Americans. Yet, even if Latinos/as born in the United States are not Americans they are also not Mexicans or Cubans, since they are also viewed as foreigners in Mexico or Cuba. Latin Americans and their descendants in the United States have responded to this denial of full citizenship by fostering a new ethnic identity that recognizes their shared experiences of discrimination and exclusion in the United States. This new identity is that of Latino and Latina Americans.(Golash-Boza 52)

The hyphenated American is derived from society’s inability to accept all assimilated people as “Americans.” In the case of Latinos individuals are making decisions to hold on to their culture for prolonged periods in comparison to other migrant groups, sometimes even into the third generation. There is no real choice in the perception of who is an American when it comes down to skin color. In the United States the immigrants from Europe who had a Caucasian appearance set the standard for and “American” . For Latinos this creates an issue because in the diversity of skin tones existent. The choice to blend in and “disappear unnoticed into the melting pot” is unavailable for a Latino of darker skin tone no matter what level of cultural assimilation he thinks he has obtained. Even three generations will not be able to change the preconceived notion that a person who appears “black” can be a Latino without connections to the longstanding American history of brutality towards slaves and later African-Americans. The problem of assimilation goes further than within the borders of the United States because a person assimilated to American culture will not be able to fit into the culture of his ancestry therefore making him a person with no real nationality. It seems as if no choice is left but to create the hyphenated American when such powerful forces constantly compartmentalize people by their skin tone and what they look like. The “denial of full citizenship” is a problem for these individuals because they constantly battle not being able to totally fit in American and in the land of their heritage. This leads to the questions of how discrimination works. It appears that people being discriminated have no real options in preventing themselves from being discriminated because agency is in the hands of the beholder who can take one look at a person and pass a judgment regarding nationality.

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May 25th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Assimilation through the lens of the immigrant is shaped by experiences and self-perception of the act as having positive connotation or negative connotation. Howerer, even when an individual chooses assimilation in order to adapt to his or her new environment it is not always the case that they are accepted. In the video “Through My Grandfather’s Eyes – A Story About American Immigration and Hyphenated American” the idea that hyphened-identity is condemned as a detriment to both the individual and American Society. The video tells a story of immigrants from Europe craving the title of “American” because of its connotations of freedom and opportunity. It goes on to say that later immigrants have not had the same sentiments of wanting to be “American” but rather have aimed for the hyphen as an excuse to maintain their own culture.

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May 25th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

Dorfman’s memoir points to the conflicts that distinguish identity from identity markers. These conflicts between the self and the terms used to define the self are alternatively imposed and desired, external and internal, national and transnational, material and imaginary, fixed and fluid. Identity is not only shaped by the tensions between agency and cultural politics; it is also governed by competing forces of time and space, history and nation. A carefully constructed text that tests the form of the memoir and the boundaries of bicultural identity, Dorfman’s Heading South Looking North requires a reading that moves beyond the many of the traditional critical categories used to understand ethnic, diasporic life writing.

Mc Clennen argues that there is a difference between a person’s identity and the system that brands an individual with a stereotypical identity. Dorfman’s work shows various examples of the dichotomy between his definition of self and the definition imposed upon him by outside factors. McClennen suggests pairings of attributes that contribute to the conflict between self-identification and the imposed identity caused by and outside force. Imposition indicates the existence of a force motivating a change in one’s identity to conform to society based on coercion by driving factors such as the need to use a language because it is the one predominantly used in the environment. While the person learning this new language may also have the reverse when they desire to acquire this new language as their own and proclaim their own identity by associating with the new language. Internal and external factors play a large role in the perception of the transitions an immigrant experiences when he or she is displaced from their homeland. The issue of agency is important because this determines where the allegiances of individual discussed lie. By determining these allegiances the sentiments of the work will show a side of the immigrant experience which either gives the immigrant the power to choose their actions in assimilating or shows outside forces imposing a new identity on these immigrants. Though Dorfman is said to move “beyond the many of the traditional critical categories used to understand ethnic, diasporic life writing” his work still shows the contrasts between the significant pairings McClennen points out.

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May 25th, 2012 by Czareena Dotchev in Uncategorized · No Comments

The creation of hyphen status within American Literature can be seen as a strategy for resisting the subsuming of all English-language literatures into part of the hegemonic group and post-colonial resentment on the part of the oppressed. This alone should make us view hyphen status with caution because it represents a collusion between critic and writer and it is, furthermore, a collusion which plays into the marketing strategies of publishing houses. ( Kaye , 60)

 

The idea that the hyphenated status is a creation allowing minority groups a place where their work can be evaluated objectively is an important factor in analyzing Latino literature. Kaye questions the legitimacy of the field of Latino literature on the basis of its existence stemming from a power struggle between mainstream literature and minority literature. The language similarities show that there is still bias towards the group descending from the colonizing force due to the predominance of hyphenated literature written in English. Hegemony exists, creating a rift between the descendants of the colonial oppressor and the groups who have only recently began to be recognized by the mainstream as valid. The groups are diametrically opposed to each other in their interests but appear to bring about coalition building. This quest from validity by the minority is a product of colonialism. Kaye states that hyphenated identity is a conspiracy. This suggests that one can consider hyphenated identities as illegitimate due to the assimilation required to obtain this hyphenated status.

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