Insular Syntax. Archipelagic Thinking and Relational Literature
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Martin De la Nuez, Thenesoya Vidina
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CitationMartin De la Nuez, Thenesoya Vidina. 2020. Insular Syntax. Archipelagic Thinking and Relational Literature. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractMy dissertation, entitled “Insular Syntax. Archipelagic Thinking and Relational Literature” is focused on Twentieth Century cultural and literary production in three insular Spanish postcolonial spaces: the African island of Annobón, in Equatorial Guinea, the Canary Islands in Spain, and the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. In particular, I study a heterogeneous corpus of postcolonial island literary texts and contexts as a means of understanding the specificities of insular cultural production, and the role of small oceanic islands within Spanish colonialism and neo-colonial legacies. Furthermore, by examining insular cultural production in a moment of the rise of global consciousness, I turn into the emergence of the age of the Anthropocene, as a way to re-think the ambivalent relationship between the part and the whole, the local and the global. Rooted in the emergence of postcolonial, environmental, and archipelagic studies, my inter-insular comparison and post-continental approach positions insular spaces and writers at the forefront of the Hispanophone studies by defining what I term an “insular syntax.” In order to address this concept, In Chapter One, I examine a dystopian nuclear disaster fiction by Canarian author Juan Ramón Tramunt, Anturios en el salón (2016), and the novel Awala cu sangui (2000), by Equatoguinean writer Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, set in the island of Annobón during the Macías dictatorship. By bringing together these two contemporary texts produced in distant insular locations and deeply rooted in the long-term violent process of the Spanish empire, I argue that, although consistently interpellated as isolated and peripheral, these spaces are at the center of a yet different transnational oceanic/archipelagic cultural imaginary in an anthropogenic era of sea-level rising and environmental threat. I further claim that these texts become part of an increasing literary corpus, beyond the Atlantic, inserted in the awareness of global climate change and postcolonial islands, which I have called “alarm islands.” In Chapter II, I turn towards the sea to examine Puerto Rican poetry book on undocumented immigration, Boat People (2005), by Afro-Caribbean writer Mayra Santos Febres, and an Afro-Hispanic short story located on a slave ship in the Middle Passage, La travesía (1977), by Equatoguinean author Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo. These literary works help me re-think maritime and insular displacements as a catalyst of separate cultural productions, history, and ancestry in oceanic and submarine aesthetics. I claim that oceanic displacement in its various forms is an inherent component of these oceanic border regions, marked by a common Atlantic imaginary of exploitation and subordinate economic development. In the third and last chapter, I explore travelogue and exile narratives by Spanish (Pen)insular author Miguel de Unamuno. More specifically, I question his texts about the island of Fuerteventura, where he was exiled by General Primo de Rivera in 1924. By including not only sources from the three above-mentioned Atlantic islands, but also a canonical author from Peninsular Spain, I seek to engage island literature in its spatial and historical complexity while questioning and dislocating the continental perspective and its convenient idea of islandness as a negative attribute.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37366003
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