By Julie Avril Minich
A quantity within the American Literatures Initiative
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Extra resources for Accessible Citizenships. Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico
The effect of these juxtapositions is to demonstrate that disability is an ordinary part of life that only acquires its “repellant and fascinating” status in the context of unequal social relations between nondisabled and disabled people. Although the Angel family is where Miguel Chico learns to understand his queer, disabled, Chicana/o body as possessing little social value, it is importantly not the only institution in the novel that operates according to this ideology. Indeed, if one single event dominates the family story, it is the gay-bashing murder of Miguel Chico’s uncle Felix by a white soldier and the cover-up of that murder by law enforcement officials.
The final section, Beyond Citizenship, engages with texts that confront the changing role of the nation-state in the face of neoliberalism. These include two Chicana novels that look beyond nationalism, attempting to imagine forms of political belonging that go beyond citizenship in a world in which citizenship remains the only guarantee of rights. Davidson describes the current post-NAFTA reality as one “in which the illusion of mobility and expanded communication masks the re-consolidation of wealth and the containment of resistance within a totalized surveillance regime” (“On the Outskirts” 737–38).
An understanding of cultural citizenship, then, illuminates not only the economic and aesthetic contributions of marginalized groups, but their political contributions as well. The most important of these political contributions may be an enriched understanding of the concept of rights, which results in an enriched concept of democracy. In a later, soloauthored essay, Flores extends Rosaldo’s work to suggest that benefits from the exercise of cultural citizenship extend beyond immigrants. He notes that when groups historically denied citizenship—including women, people of color, and people with disabilities—claim rights, their claims actually result in the creation of new rights: “These new rights not only extend participation but reframe the context of that participation in terms of the needs of the new citizen groups” (“New Citizens” 88).