Theoretical tourism – an interesting academic concern

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Introducing her critical reading of Como agua para chocolate (de Laura Esquivel), Cecilia Lawless writes:

“Laura Esquivel has written an unclassifiable work, which simultaneously breaks and brings together bou[n]daries of genre so as to concoct something new in Mexican literature. Como agua para chocolate. Novela de entregas mensuales con recetas, amores y remedios caseros (1989) is a mixture of recipe book, how-to household book, socio-political and historical document of the Mexican Revolution, psychological study of male/female as well as mother/daughter relations, an exploration into gothic realms, and ultimately, an extremely readable novel. My interest in this text lies in the very basic beginnings of questioning and uncovering – “cooking-up” – the layers of possibility that this text presents. In essence, every analysis of literary work acts as a recipe ….” (p.261)

However, she observes: “how can Western feminist theory find access to this text without appropriating yet another Latin American work?
In drawing a parallel between literary theory and cooking recipes, I would admit that I am against a form of theoretical tourism on the part of the first world critic where the margins become a linguistic or critical creation, a new poetics of the exotic; however, I do enjoy tasty cooking.” (p.261)

I like this term – theoretical tourism – and it does apply well to certain criticisms of this text…

Ref: Cecilia Lawless ‘Experimental Cooking in Como agua para chocolate.’ Monographic Review / Revista Monográfica Vol.VIII pp.261-272 (I don’t have a full reference here, but I believe it is 1992)

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