Erika Almenara delivers a timely and complex analysis that delves into the tensions of official discourses of modern state formation and their exclusions through queer, transvestite, and transgender expressions of artists, intellectuals, writers, and performers in Peru and Chile. The Language of the In-Between makes an important contribution to intersectional approaches to the discourse of modernity and the artistic and literary creation of dissident practices and languages of resistance and their cultural and social transformation.
Often, the process of modern state formation is founded on the marginalization of certain groups, and Latin America is no exception. In The Language of the In-Between, Erika Almenara contends that literary production replicates this same process. Looking at marginalized communities in Chile and Peru, particularly writers who are travesti, trans, cuir/queer, and Indigenous, the author shows how these writers stake a claim for the liminal space that is neither one thing nor the other. This allows a freedom to expose oppression and to critique a national identity based on erasure. By employing a language of nonnormative gender and sexuality to dispute the state projects of modernity and modernization, the voice of the poor and racialized travesti evolves from powerlessness to become an agent of social transformation.
A valuable book that explores canonical Latin American authors such as Arguedas, Donoso, and Lemebel to challenge the modern racist, classist, and anti-LGBTQ+ national paradigms in Chile and Peru. Departing from the idea of the language in between, Almenara’s reading reopens the debate about cultural practices of emancipation using performative and literary works to interrogate a speculative aesthetics that reconceptualizes the current debates on ‘the political’ in Southern Cone and Andean Cuir/Queer politics. . . . [The Language of the In-Between] provides key insights for those working in the intersection of Latin American literature, queer studies, and gender and sexuality studies.
Erika Almenara is assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Arkansas. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century Latin American cultural production, especially in the cases of marginalized subjects and communities.