Mapping the wastelands : spectacles of wasting in neoliberal Brazilian and Mexican film

Argueta, Arno Jacob
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This project explores representations of waste in films created in Brazil and Mexico in their neoliberal period. By approaching waste as an object that redefines the space it occupies as a wasteland, this dissertation explores the effects of spectacular representations of waste upon the people that inhabit and transit these lands of waste. To analyze this, I explore how certain films frame, symbolically construct and reproduce often-violent acts of wasting on screen. The goal of this dissertation is to expose how the modern desire for cleanliness that discursively frames undesirable byproducts as waste, also denotes certain “wasted beings” as outside modernity and the state. This act subjects these beings to the power of market dynamics that enforce violence and a politics of death. I draw from the work of scholars like Julia Kristeva on abjection, Kevin Bales on disposable beings, Melissa Wright on disposable women, Zygmunt Bauman on wasted beings, and Sayak Valencia on gore capitalism. Specifically, I argue that modernity denotes certain beings as outside the state and its structures of control. As a type of non-state space, the wasteland is ruled by the violent acts of taking life, which are the last reductions of sovereignty, and empowerment.