Sujetos étnicos e identidad nacional : urdimbre y fracaso del proyecto liberal en Ecuador y Brasil (1865-1936)
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In my dissertation I adopt an interdisciplinary approach to explore a crucial moment in the intellectual history of Ecuador and Brazil and the way in which late 19th and early 20th century writers articulate a representational discourse that reveals the contradictions of liberalism and modernity. I argue that after entering the modern world-system, Ecuador and Brazil undergo a comparable modernization process, which entails the emergence of the cities of Guayaquil and Rio de Janeiro as new centers of political and economic power. The study of the coincidences and discrepancies between the two national processes sheds light on antagonistic cultural systems coexisting within the realms of the new metropolis. My dissertation consists of an introduction and five chapters. In the introduction, I present the theoretical framework and explain the key concepts that are common currency in contemporary attempts to articulate cultural analysis with its social and historical reality. Chapters 1 and 2 look at the origins of Ecuadorian and Brazilian identities in the works of writers José de Alencar and Juan León Mera. I intend to trace budding national identities in each of their essays about language, race, and politics, as well as in their foundational fictions, Iracema: Lenda do Ceará (1865) and Cumandá: un drama entre salvajes (1879). Chapters 3 and 4 problematize the ways in which the novels O cortiço (1890), by Brazilian Aluízo Azevedo, and A la costa (1905), by Ecuadorian Luis A. Martínez, are linked to the intricate local debates about slavery, internal migration, and the participation of both national economies in the modern world system. I contend that the narratives of Azevedo and Martínez become “hinge-novels” for glimpsing the “national” within the “liminal,” even though they fail to foresee the disencounters between the dominant and the subaltern classes. In Chapter 5, I explore the locus of enunciation from which Ecuadorian Jorge Icaza attempts to represent marginal social groups. I argue that Icaza’s Huasipungo (1934) reveals the ineffectiveness of the liberal project and helps establish the agency of marginalized groups in the Andean hacienda. The incorporation of these marginal discourses into his narratives constitutes the first endeavor to provide subaltern groups with a voice.