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ERIC Number: EJ863210
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0094-5366
Of "Chicharrones" and Clam Chowder: Gender and Consumption in Jorge Ulica's Cronicas Diabolicas
Barrera, Magdalena
Bilingual Review, v29 n1 p49-65 Jan-Apr 2008-2009
This essay examines the working-class Mexican experience as represented in Jorge Ulica's "Cronicas Diabolicas," which he published between 1916 and 1926. What unites the wide-ranging subject matter of the chronicles is the author's resolute interest in maintaining his working-class compatriots' cultural and ideological ties to Mexico. Ulica expertly manipulated the chronicle as a useful medium by which to express his disgruntled warnings about the effects of U.S. society on working-class Mexican families. Deep within the "cronicas," Ulica goes to great lengths to lampoon three particular types of characters: (1) Mexican Americans who take advantage of their more naive, recently arrived brethren; (2) Mexicans who erroneously believe they have an understanding of English and attempt to translate for others; and finally, (3) Mexicans who have become enthusiastic and uncritical consumers of American goods and services. What is most striking in "Cronicas" is that women commonly embody the three unfortunate types all at once. Yet despite the fact that the writings present an intriguing relationship between women's social adaptation in the United States and what is perceived as the erosion of "traditional" Mexican culture, most scholarly analysis of the work instead debates its usefulness as a forerunner of Chicana/o literature or whether its author politically aligned himself with the working-class Mexicans about whom he wrote. The author argues, however, that Ulica's writings have much more to reveal about an emerging Mexican American identity, particularly as it is expressed through gender and consumption. In fact, the intersection of gender and consumption is a critical space where the meaning of being "Mexican" or "Mexican American" is enacted. Social and cultural change is inherently marked by commodities and products in the home, a reality upon which Ulica eagerly seizes. He writes with an eye toward strengthening male homosocial bonds in order to save Mexican men from the perils of "feminized" consumption that he fears will undermine Mexican national identity. In this vein, he attempts to unite across class lines an imagined community of male readers through disparaging women as the primary and most frivolous consumers in the home. Ulica sees American-style food, fashion, and household products as wearing away Mexican immigrants' ties to their country of origin, and he worries that consumption of these items will lessen the chances of returning to Mexico when the Revolution has ended. (Contains 4 notes.)
Bilingual Review Press. Arizona State University, P.O. Box 875303, Tempe, AZ 85287-5303. Tel: 800-965-2280; Tel: 480-965-3867; Fax: 480-965-8309; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico