Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Romance Languages and Literatures: Latin American and Iberian Literatures (Hispanic Literature)

Author's Department/Program

Romance Languages and Literatures: Latin American and Iberian Literatures (Hispanic Literature)


Spanish (es)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

J. Andrew Brown


This dissertation studies the representation of shantytowns in Argentine narrative of the 20th and 21st century. The intellectual assumes the role of mediator and strengthens and or defies the social imagery about the poor and the space s/he inhabits. I argue that the socio-economic crisis of December 2001 affects the way in which writers imagine the subaltern and his/her urban spaces. As the narratives of progress and modernity enter in crisis, the villa miseria and poverty are reconfigured in new tales. This project is concentrated mainly in the post crisis fiction and on the emergency of social actors such piqueteros, okupas and cartoneros. This thesis engages texts not widely addressed by literary scholars. Elías Castelnuovo, Bernardo Verbitsky, Haroldo Conti, Cristian Alarcón, Susana Silvestre, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Juan C. Martini and César Aira identify "villa miseria" as a significant cultural and political trope. The representation of "villero" is constructed according to the relation between the intellectual with the State: Masiello 57). The narratives unveil commonalities between racial and class discrimination. If the twentieth-century world was marked by fundamental struggles over the color line, or between Capitalism-Socialism, the new millennium may well be defined by various global struggles over inequality: Gootenberg). This research moves forward in two directions. One, studying the crisis of aesthetical categories that look at the cultural representations of poverty in terms of high/low, popular, postmodern and hybrid. On the second path, I interpret the cultural crisis by examining arguments on globalization and neo-liberalism. Both are effects of late capitalism. Furthermore, this study considers indigence as a relational and a fluctuating concept. I utilize an interdisciplinary approach to conceptualize the articulations of marginality and urban space. My theoretical frame incorporates Subaltern Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Geography, and Cultural Studies. This thesis proves that poverty imagery of the past is not equal to the current representations. The post-crisis underprivileged manifests identity fractures. This fact prevents the homogenization of popular sectors of society. Therefore, I demonstrate the "villero" of the new millennium is a subject in transit.


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