Disney’s Specific and Ambiguous Princess: A Discursive Analysis of Elena of Avalor

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Bringing together discourses of Latina girlhood and ambiguity, in this article I interrogate Disney Junior’s specific and ambiguous Latinidad in three key episodes from the first season of Elena of Avalor. This type of intersectional analysis is seldom found in Disney scholarship, despite the relative abundance of existing work on Disney-generated cultural production. By analyzing the ambiguity (Joseph 2018) and unambivalent structure of ambivalence (Valdivia 2020) present in Disney’s deployment of animated Latina can-do girlhood (Harris 2004), in this article, I provide an intersectional approach to the study of Disney Junior animated content and Latina girlhood in contemporary popular culture. I argue that Elena of Avalor is the result of Disney’s avowed and disavowed dedication to the construction of Latinidad and can-do girlhood. The result of this is a fluctuation and flexible navigation between specificity and ambiguity within one narrative franchise.

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Girlhood Studies, v. 14, no. 2, p. 29-45