Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > THE OCTOPUS’S TENTACLES: REPRESENTATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES IN CONTEMPORARY CENTRAL AMERICAN NARRATIVE (1996-2012)
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Available after 5 July, 2019

This dissertation project critically examines how contemporary fictional authors like Arturo Arias, María Lourdes Pallais, and Gloria Guardia, among others, represent the United States’ cultural, political and economic influences in Central America during the post-war period. In doing so, I identify three literary tendencies in the late-20th and early-21st centuries. On the one hand, I argue that U.S. neoliberal foreign policy representations by some authors of crime novels are not only less critical than they have historically been, but that they are rather sympathetic with U.S. political and economic interests in Central America, at times even celebrating U.S. characters and influence. On the other hand, I show how disdain for the U.S.’s foreign policies has, in part, become radicalized into dystopian literature. Writers like Fernando Contreras Castro, I argue, thus seek cultural decolonization and the breakdown of Eurocentric social hierarchies by targeting U.S.-supported global capitalism in the region. This “polarization” of Central American writers shows how some authors are now more complicit in global capitalism, while the resistance desires change through culture and intellect as opposed to physical or violent means. Lastly, this dissertation project also considers how U.S. foreign policy also imposes identities upon the Central American-American population as read in novels of immigration by Mario Bencastro and Roberto Quesada. The same Eurocentric hierarchies are called into question in these works as we find that repressive attitudes and policies ensure the marginalization and invisibility of the diasporic population’s personal narratives.