Revisionary reconstructions of urban spaces: claiming the barrio as “homely” site in Nicholasa Mohr’s Nilda
Demirtürk, E. L.
Journal of Literature and Art Studies
David Publishing Co., Inc.
151 - 157
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Although ghetto fiction is concerned with the geographical peripheries of white metropolis, its long-term strategy is to effect a radical restructuring of cityscape. This is not to state a criticism of neocolonial values upon which the city is built in opposition to the ghetto but rather of demonstrating the extent to which the white city and the ghetto are already deeply implicated within each other. In a ghetto novel, the white city is the subtext that we must recover, because history of ghetto formation itself is the subject of its discourse. Revaluation of the ghetto prepares us for later attempts to revive an urban and “ghettocentric” American identity. In contrast to some ghetto fiction where the ghetto is denounced as a place adverse to emancipatory “progress”, Nicholasa Mohr’s literary ghetto in Nilda (1986) is not a narrative reinforcing the stereotypical representations of how racioethnic urban life and violent crime define each other. It is not, in other words, a location of unproblematic inherited identities but a place where orientations and identifications are negotiated.