Homegirls T H en and n ow,
from TH e Home f ron T T o TH e f ron T line
The nation-state at war generates nationalism of the highest
order in order to mobilize its citizens to arms and sacrifice.
War nationalism is pervasive and demanding. Drawn in stark
terms and heavily dependent upon symbol and ritual, it resists
complexity and nuance. It is intolerant of dissent and leaves lit-
tle, if any, room for competing ideologies. Yet, from a different
angle, wars have also provided opportunities for immigrants
and racial minorities to demonstrate their loyalty and to win
full acceptance and citizenship in the nation.
Mae M. NgaI, ImpossIble subjects
ince the early 1990s, the figure of the pachuca has largely
replaced in Chicana cultural production and U.S. popular
culture by that of her heir in the late twentieth century and the
twenty-first, the Latina gang member. In 1994, this figure garnered
widespread attention with the release of Allison Anders’s film Mi
Vida Loca. Shortly thereafter, she took center stage in Yxta Maya
Murray’s novel Locas, Mona Ruiz’s autobiography Two Badges, and
Gini Sikes’s ethnographic 8 Ball Chicks: A Year in the Violent World
of Girl Gangsters. More recently, she has figured prominently in
scholarly monographs, among them Monica Brown’s Gang Nation:
Delinquent Citizens in Puerto Rican, Chicano, and Chicana Narratives
and Marie “Keta” Miranda’s Homegirls in the Public Sphere. These
works demonstrate that the meanings of the Latina homegirl—a
figure that has come to represent fear, confusion, frustration, re-
spect, admiration, pity, or titillation—continue to shift and to circu-
late. They prompt us to ask: What do Latina homegirls of the late
twentieth century and the early twenty-first have in common with
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