Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Romance Languages

First Advisor

Román de la Campa

Abstract

The subordination of the body to the mind –the former aligned nature, the latter with civilization– is at the foundation of Latin American nation-building projects. It has also underwritten dominant cultural and political discourse and matrices of power since the beginnings of colonization. However, a counternarrative can be traced through the foregrounding of bodies—human and nonhuman—and their affective and sensorial interactions in cultural production of the 20th and 21st centuries. My dissertation proposes an alternative genealogy of literary and filmic texts that center the body as the site of dispute and questioning of modern ontological, social and political categories and the hierarchies built upon them. Arguing for the capacity of sexuality to deterritorialize fixed identity categories, I spotlight instances in which the channeling of desire along unorthodox paths destabilizes the subject and disturbs the cis gendered, subject/object, human/animal, and nature/culture dualisms at the foundation of neocolonial hierarchies of race, gender and species. I draw on post-anthropocentric philosophies, critical theory, and literary and cinema studies to analyze shifting presentations of human, animal and geological bodies and their relationships, focusing specifically on the deterritorializing potentiality of the erotic as a means of surviving, resisting and subverting the hierarchies that subtend the modern order. Foregrounding the epistemological potentialities of human and nonhuman bodies and their relationships, I thus propose an original corpus of works spanning from Brazil and the Southern Cone to Cuba and the circum-Caribbean that foregrounds the erotic as a vantage point for challenging heteropatriarchal, logoanthropocentric, and extractivist matrices of power.

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