The Atlantis Effect: Aquatic Invocations and the (Re)Claiming of Women's Space through the Works and Archives of Lydia Cabrera, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Tatiana De La Tierra
Piña, Sarah Elisabeth
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Though writing and living within different times and places, Cuban ethnographer Lydia Cabrera (1901-1991), Chicana scholar and writer Gloria E. Anzaldúa (1942-2004), and Colombian writer tatiana de la tierra (1966-2012), all three US Latina or Chicana lesbian writers, consistently invoked water, water imagery, deities or goddesses associated with water, as well as many spiritual and mythological creatures of water in their work, and as will also be seen, in their respective archives, crucial for conceptualizations of gender, spirituality, queer sexualities, ultimately (re)claiming their space and therefore agency vis á vis their texts and archives. Cabrera, Anzaldúa, and de la tierra were initially linked as a focus for this dissertation because of observations of their connections and strong ties with the powerful feminine water deities Yemayá and Ochún from the Afro-Cuban religious tradition commonly referred to as Santería, but a much closer textual analysis coupled with archival research has revealed something more: an overlying spiritual connection with water and all associated with it, part of something I deem the Atlantis Effect, stemming from the feminist literary trope of the Atlantis Paradigm. The space and physical, metaphorical, and highly spiritual nature of water allow for fluidity on many levels in terms of gender, sexuality, and unhindered, unlimited possibilities and alternative meanings of womanhood as this vast water space is one of women, free from prescriptions and limitations imposed by patriarchal border/lands. As such, this dissertation is a crucial contribution to studies of gender, female spirituality, queerness, and US Latina and Chicana literature, as it seeks to assert the decolonial and destabilizing spiritual-aquatic nature of three lesbian Latina and Chicana authors, their works and their archives by utilizing the proposed theory of the Atlantis Effect as a lens to identify and analyze the significance of this female-centered cultural recovery of the feminine-queer divine by these authors and the women’s spaces they reclaim through their lifeworks.