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Quotidian Inequality: Free-Market Logic in Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's The Dirty Girls Social Club and Helena María Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them

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This essay examines narratives about class and inequality in Helena María Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them (2007) and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's The Dirty Girls Social Club (2003). These two novels entered the literary scene during a period of increased market neoliberalization, which has produced extreme social and economic inequality. Drawing on Latinx literary criticism and theories about neoliberalism and the free market, this essay maps out how these two novels reproduce and interrogate the market structures that make inequality appear normal and quotidian. One novel narrates the bourgeois sensibilities of six affluent Latinas; the other tells of the social injustice imposed upon and internalized by the racialized poor through the stories of four women in East Los Angeles. Although their characters are seemingly at opposite ends of the class spectrum, the novels nevertheless share the same ideologies about class. Indeed, these literary representations of latinidad and chicanidad directly engage the many structural mechanisms that ultimately normalize growing class disparity as part of our everyday lives. By narrating the neoliberal discourses of "success" and "failure," the novels lay bare certain determining features of inequality, such as marketable ethnicity, social mobility, and entrepreneurship. For Their Dogs and Dirty Girls, rich and poor become embodied states of being that ultimately make inequality the standard social order.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: March 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Aztlán presents original research that is relevant to or informed by the Chicano experience. An interdisciplinary, refereed journal, Aztlán focuses on scholarly essays in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, supplemented by thematic pieces in the dosier section, an artist's communiqué, a review section, and a commentary by the editor, Chon A. Noriega. Aztlán seeks ways to bring Chicano studies into critical dialogue with Latino, ethnic, American, and global studies.
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