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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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Deviant and Useful Citizens

The Cultural Production of the Female Body in Eighteenth-Century Peru

Mariselle Melendez

Deviant and Useful Citizens explores the conditions of women and perceptions of the female body in the eighteenth century throughout the Viceroyalty of Peru, which until 1776 comprised modern-day Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Mariselle Meléndez introduces the reader to a female rebel, Micaela Bastidas, whose brutal punishment became a particularly harsh example of state response to women who challenged the system. She explores the cultural representation of women depicted as economically productive and vital to the health of the culture at large. The role of women in religious orders provides still another window into the vital need to sustain the image of women as loyal and devout—and to deal with women who refused to comply. The book focuses on the different ways male authorities, as well as female subjects, conceived the female body as deeply connected to notions of what constituted a useful or deviant citizen within the Viceroyalty. Using eighteenth-century legal documents, illustrated chronicles, religious texts, and newspapers, Mariselle Meléndez explores in depth the representation of the female body in periods of political, economic, and religious crisis to determine how it was conceived within certain contexts. Deviant and Useful Citizens presents a highly complex society that relied on representations of utility and productivity to understand the female body, as it reveals the surprisingly large stake that colonial authorities had in defining the status of women during a crucial time in South American history.

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Dialectics of Exile

Nation, Time, Language, and Space in Hispanic Literatures

by Sophia McClennen

The Dialectics of Exile: Nation, Time, Language and Space in Hispanic Literatures offers a theory of exile writing that accounts for the persistence of these dual impulses and for the ways that they often co exist within the same literary works.

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Disaster Writing

The Cultural Politics of Catastrophe in Latin America

Mark D. Anderson

In the aftermath of disaster, literary and other cultural representations of the event can play a role in the renegotiation of political power. In Disaster Writing, Mark D. Anderson analyzes four natural disasters in Latin America that acquired national significance and symbolism through literary mediation: the 1930 cyclone in the Dominican Republic, volcanic eruptions in Central America, the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, and recurring drought in northeastern Brazil.

Taking a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the disaster narratives, Anderson explores concepts such as the social construction of risk, landscape as political and cultural geography, vulnerability as the convergence of natural hazard and social marginalization, and the cultural mediation of trauma and loss. He shows how the political and historical contexts suggest a systematic link between natural disaster and cultural politics.

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Discarded Pages

Araceli Cab Cumí, Maya Poet and Politician

Kathleen Rock Martín

Discarded Pages is Cab Cumí's life narrative accompanied by her essays, poems, personal narratives, and political and public policy papers. Titled in honor of Cab Cumí's earliest writings which she had thrown away thinking them of little value, Discarded Pages showcases her expressions and thoughts within the context of her eventful and unusual life. In addition to translations of her work, Cab Cumí's original Spanish and Yucatec Maya writings are included in the book.

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Disturbers of the Peace

Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Kelly Baker Josephs

Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic. The relatively condensed decolonization of the anglophone islands during the 1960s and 1970s, she argues, makes literature written in English during this time especially rich for an examination of the function of madness in literary critiques of colonialism and in the Caribbean project of nation-making.

In drawing connections between madness and literature, gender, and religion, this book speaks not only to the field of Caribbean studies but also to colonial and postcolonial literature in general. The volume closes with a study of twenty-first-century literature of the Caribbean diaspora, demonstrating that Caribbean writers still turn to representations of madness to depict their changing worlds.

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Diversión

Play and Popular Culture in Cuban America

Albert Sergio Laguna

A re-examination of the Cuban diaspora through the lens of popular culture.  

In an era of warming relations between the US and Cuba, this book updates the conversation about Cuban America by showing how this community has changed over the past 25 years. No longer a conservative Republican voting bloc, the majority of Cubans today want more engagement with the island instead of less. Laguna investigates the generational shifts and tensions in a Cuban America where the majority is now made up of immigrants who arrived since the 1990s and those born in the US.   

To probe these changes, Laguna examines the aesthetic and social logics of a wide range of popular culture forms originating in Miami and Cuba from the 1970s through the 2010s. They include the stand-up comedy of performers like Alvarez Guedes and Robertico, a festival called Cuba Nostalgia, Miami morning radio shows, a form of media distribution on the island known as el paquete, and the viral social media content of Los Pichy Boys. This study illustrates the centrality of play in a community that has been described historically as angry, reactionary, and melancholic. Diversión contends that our understanding of the Cuban diaspora is lacking not in seriousness, but in play. 

By unpacking this archive, Laguna explores our complex, often fraught attachments to popular culture and the way it can challenge and reproduce typical cultural ideologies—especially in relation to politics and race.  In the wake of the largest migration wave to the US in Cuban history, Diversión and its focus on play is crucial reading for those who seek to understand not only the Cuban American diaspora, but cultural and economic life on the island.  

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Dividing the Isthmus

Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures

By Ana Patricia Rodríguez

In 1899, the United Fruit Company (UFCO) was officially incorporated in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning an era of economic, diplomatic, and military interventions in Central America. This event marked the inception of the struggle for economic, political, and cultural autonomy in Central America as well as an era of homegrown inequities, injustices, and impunities to which Central Americans have responded in creative and critical ways. This juncture also set the conditions for the creation of the Transisthmus—a material, cultural, and symbolic site of vast intersections of people, products, and narratives. Taking 1899 as her point of departure, Ana Patricia Rodríguez offers a comprehensive, comparative, and meticulously researched book covering more than one hundred years, between 1899 and 2007, of modern cultural and literary production and modern empire-building in Central America. She examines the grand narratives of (anti)imperialism, revolution, subalternity, globalization, impunity, transnational migration, and diaspora, as well as other discursive, historical, and material configurations of the region beyond its geophysical and political confines. Focusing in particular on how the material productions and symbolic tropes of cacao, coffee, indigo, bananas, canals, waste, and transmigrant labor have shaped the transisthmian cultural and literary imaginaries, Rodríguez develops new methodological approaches for studying cultural production in Central America and its diasporas. Monumental in scope and relentlessly impassioned, this work offers new critical readings of Central American narratives and contributes to the growing field of Central American studies.

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Documenting the Undocumented

Latino/a Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta

Looking at the work of Latino/a authors who are U.S. citizens, including Junot Diaz, Cristina Garcia, and Julia Alvarez, Marta Caminero-Santangelo examines how writers are increasingly expressing their solidarity with undocumented immigrants. She similarly foregrounds the narratives of the undocumented themselves to show how they are emerging in the public sphere.

In this multifaceted issue, the voices are myriad: they challenge common interpretations of "illegal" immigration, explore the inevitable traumas and ethical dilemmas, protest their own silencing in immigration debates, and even capitalize on the topic for the commercial market. This growing body of literature is critical to understanding not only the Latino/a immigrant experience, but also alternative visions of nation and belonging.

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Documents in Crisis

Nonfiction Literatures in Twentieth-Century Mexico

Examines the theory and practice of nonfiction narrative literature in twentieth-century Mexico. 'In the turbulent twentieth century, large numbers of Mexicans of all social classes faced crisis and catastrophe on a seemingly continuous basis. Revolution, earthquakes, industrial disasters, political and labor unrest, as well as indigenous insurgency placed extraordinary pressures on collective and individual identity. In contemporary literary studies, nonfiction literatures have received scant attention compared to the more supposedly “creative” practices of fictional narrative, poetry, and drama. In Documents in Crisis, Beth E. Jörgensen examines a selection of both canonical and lesser-known examples of narrative nonfiction that were written in response to these crises, including the autobiography, memoir, historical essay, testimony, chronicle, and ethnographic life narrative. She addresses the relative neglect of Mexican nonfiction in criticism and theory and demonstrates its continuing relevance for writers and readers who, in spite of the contemporary blurring of boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, remain fascinated by literatures of fact.

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Domesticating Empire

Enlightenment in Spanish America

Karen Stolley

Why has the work of writers in eighteenth-century Latin America been forgotten? During the eighteenth century, enlightened thinkers in Spanish territories in the Americas engaged in lively exchanges with their counterparts in Europe and Anglo-America about a wide range of topics of mutual interest, responding in the context of increasing racial and economic diversification. Yet despite recent efforts to broaden our understanding of the global Enlightenment, the Ibero-American eighteenth century has often been overlooked.


Through the work of five authors--Jose de Oviedo y Banos, Juan Ignacio Molina, Felix de Azara, Catalina de Jesus Herrera, and Felix de Arrate--Domesticating Empire explores the Ibero-American Enlightenment as a project that reflects both key Enlightenment concerns and the particular preoccupations of Bourbon Spain and its territories in the Americas. At a crucial moment in Spain's imperial trajectory, these authors domesticate topics central to empire--conquest, Indians, nature, God, and gold--by making them familiar and utilitarian. As a result, their works later proved resistant to overarching schemes of Latin American literary history and have been largely forgotten. Nevertheless, eighteenth-century Ibero-American writing complicates narratives about both the Enlightenment and Latin American cultural identity.

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