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Nasty Women: The Politics of Female Identity in Antonio Ortuño’s La fila india
(pp. 99-112; DOI: 10.23692/iMex.13.7)

Adrienne Erazo M.A.

Adrienne Erazo is a PhD candidate in Romance Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, who specializes in contemporary Central American, Mexican, and Latinx literature, with a focus on migration narrative. Her current research explores how identity is reshaped under pressure, particularly through the experience of migration. Incorporating an interdisciplinary approach, she studies diverse representations of marginalization and discrimination, otherness, gender transgressions, and violence. In her dissertation, she investigates how Central American migrants’ border crossing experience is depicted in a selection of contemporary novels. Adrienne has recently published an article about gender identity in Chasqui (2017), as well as book reviews in Romance Notes (2014) and Aztlán (2016).

Provoked by the outbreak of femicides in Ciudad Juárez in the 1990s, a wave of socially critical narrative has circulated in Mexico since the turn of the twenty-first century. Taking into account this broader corpus of literature, the article contextualizes Antonio Ortuño’s 2014 novel La fila india within a unique sector of this critical narrative, which highlights the interaction of gender violence and migration. The violent novel exposes an expansive social hierarchy that has developed in response to migration in Mexico, and which discriminates against all women, but targets migrant women in particular. Ortuño steps away from traditional characterizations of the Third World female migrant as a helpless victim, and instead orients his narrative around this figure’s means of achieving agency in the face of intense discrimination and violence. The article demonstrates how Ortuño interweaves systemic, symbolic, and subjective violence and subverts the chingón-chingada relationship in order to offer a pessimistic, but revolutionary view of both Mexican and Central American women’s future in Mexico. By tracing narrative strategies that normalize violence and uncovering Ortuño’s connection of gender and ethnic discrimination, the author invites us to reconsider both the genre of social criticism in Mexico and the politics of female identity in the face of violence.