Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

David Kazanjian

Abstract

This dissertation argues that revisions of the “Black Legend”—a set of Anglophone dogmas about Spanish tyranny and racial degeneracy—conditioned the terms for both political conflict and possibility in the nineteenth-century Americas. The project specifically attends to the ideology’s displacement from Spanish imperialism to the independence movements in Spanish America (1808 - 1826), which in turn enthralled the diplomatic imagination of the early United States. With the balance of power newly at stake in the hemisphere, Anglo-Americans relied on the Black Legend to encode the emergent polities in Spanish America with longstanding representations of the inhabitants’ political illegitimacy, sociopolitical dysfunction, and non-binary “casta” system of racial relations. I trace this language of sociopolitical taint not only in discourses of U.S. expansionism, but more importantly in instances of non-statist, transamerican political innovation. The project juxtaposes canonical, nineteenth-century U.S. literature and non-traditional texts by Spanish Americans, such as diplomatic correspondences, political tracts, subaltern rumors, and propagandist pamphlets. I assemble what I call an early Latinx counter-archive, which re-narrates Spanish America’s benighted sovereignty as an opportunity to envision forms of political community capable of disrupting Anglo-American imperial power.

Embargoed

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