Surviving the Fractured Future: Contemporary Central American Dystopian Literature and Politics.

Richey, Matthew, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Pellon, Gustavo, University of Virginia

Much of the scholarship on the literary production from Central America over the past twenty five years has focused on themes such as violence, insecurity, and transnational migration – particularly in relation to the concurrent rise of neoliberal policies and the tenuous process of postwar transitions to democracy in a region marred by nearly four decades of virtually continuous armed conflicts. The general sense of disillusionment and disenchantment with the failures of the revolutionary movements of the 1970s and 1980s that emerges at the turn of the century reflects anxieties that are both retrospective and prospective at once. Indeed, many of the issues with which this project is concerned, such as privatization, collapsing ecosystems, political and criminal violence, and authoritarianism, are not new within the context of Central America, but instead represent the latest chapter in a centuries-long cycle of foreign intervention and exploitation in a region coveted both for its strategic geographical location and its economic potential. The transition to peace in Central America was not only an uneasy and incomplete process, but also one that unfolded against the backdrop of an abrupt global shift from the end of the Cold War to the beginning of the post-9/11 era. The works of literature analyzed in this project not only challenge the historical underpinnings of the utopian visions of Central American revolutions, but they also describe the dystopian realities that have emerged over the last twenty five years. I argue that dystopian literature has become an increasingly popular mode of narrative discourse, particularly among younger generations of Central American writers, precisely because of its ability to invite readers to confront the realities of the past and present by projecting them forward into future worlds that are even more hostile. What is more, dystopian literature does not simply present visions of worse worlds for the sake of it, but instead offers an element of hope, and, at times, a sort of roadmap, to avoid those future worlds.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
dystopian literature, Central American literature, Latin American literature, utopian studies
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