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Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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

Summer 9-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

William Acree


This dissertation provides a panoramic portrait of the efforts and impact of Afro-Latin Americans in the emergence of national print cultures and the state formation process in three of the most important areas of the African diaspora in the Americas. I argue that in Colombia, Brazil, and Cuba leaders and intellectuals of African ancestry intended to construct a national community based in social equality. The chapters of my dissertation analyze the several ways in which the creole elite attempted to neutralize those efforts by promoting stereotypical constructions of Afro-Latin Americans as criminals and deviants, as well as repressing all manifestations of political opposition. In the first chapter I explore processes of criminalizing Afro-descendants as revealed in literary, legal and medical texts. In the second I analyze the strategies of self-representation as heroes implemented by Afro-Latin American political leaders to promote their right to fully participate in the political arena. The elites' reaction to this phenomenon (from repression to massacres) proves the massive influence of Afro-Latin American leaders in their communities. The third chapter discusses different strategies implemented by black writers in order to contest the hegemonic model of a "white" male intellectual. Finally, in the last chapter I argue that contemporary recovery of certain characters and historical events reproduces gender and racial stereotypes and reinforces Afro-Latin Americans' social exclusion. By paying close attention to Afro-Latin Americans' texts my research recovers voices and experiences of those who imagined social, political, and cultural change as fundamental for building an egalitarian national community.



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