Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Romance Languages

First Advisor

Ericka Beckman

Abstract

This dissertation interrogates aesthetic representations of urban informality that rethink the time, space, and fundamental vocabulary of Central American labor politics today. Through the works of Horacio Castellanos Moya, Claudia Hernández, and Julio Hernández Cordón, it examines informalization as both an undertheorized site of class formation and a largely ignored frame for reading literature and film. Intervening in humanistic and social science debates on the retreat of working-class politics in neoliberal Latin America, I study texts and films that engage in speculative and experimental aesthetic techniques that beg for new frameworks of labor analysis. While previous scholarship has tended to focus on the worker within formal sites of labor, I expand the scope of class study to the marginalized area of informality in a region where it subsumes over seventy percent of the workforce. Doing so through a cultural studies lens demonstrates that worker solidarity is constantly evolving its aims and praxes to reflect differences within the working class that are marked by processes of racialization, criminality, and displacement. This leads me to argue that labor politics have not disappeared from the regional imaginary but have instead been transformed, finding expression in collective everyday practices of resistance that expand our conception of politics.

Embargoed

Available to all on Friday, January 31, 2025

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