Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
Christian's crucial contribution to ethnic studies is her book's argument that ethnic identity is more performance than essence. Of course, this is an unresolved and essentialized issue, but Christian summarizes the debate well, situating her study in the performance camp as she relies on Judith Butler's theory of performativity to examine the inter-related performances of ethnicity and gender in Chicano/a, U.S. Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican texts. As Christian explains, static U.S. Latino/a identity categories create "collective fictions" that "regulate performances of gender, sexuality, and cultural identity," but alternative performances of ethnicity and sexuality, Christian argues, subvert these "collective fictions" and show instead that identity is always in flux (21). Her study thus refreshingly challenges the practice of defining "U.S. Latino/a" at the expense of excluding alternative texts, subject matter, and even authors. This is the book's greatest strength, making it a key text for U.S. Latino/a literary critics and ethnic cultural studies in general.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1997