Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Enrico Mario Santí

Abstract

Posthumanism—understood as a symbiotic relationship between humans and technology—is quickly and surely becoming an inextricable part of daily life. In an era where technology can be worn as an extension of—and an enhancement to—our bodies, traditional science fiction tropes such as robots and cyborgs resurface and reformulate questions on critical aspects of human experience: who are we and what do our (imagined) technologies say about our world? Such questions are far more complex than they appear. Their answers should not come from one source alone, as humanness is experienced differently across time and cultural systems. In this sense, it is imperative to focus critical attention on works beyond the English-language canon in order to discover alternative readings of the posthuman, understand how varying historical, social, and economic contexts give new meanings to robots, cyborgs and hyper-technological imaginaries, and provide balancing perspectives to the ideas presented in canon posthuman science fiction from the developed world.

To this end, this study centers on posthuman science fiction from Latin America. The primary works included here are limited only to Mexico, Chile, and Argentina—three of the countries with the greatest science fiction output in the region. This study explores the intersections of gender, sexualities, and posthumanism, as well as the underlying sociopolitical implications of such narratives. They exhibit an undeniable influence of canon Anglophone science fiction in terms of tropes (robots as mates for humans, cybernetic doppelgangers, technological utopias and dystopias) as well as problematic representations of gender, sex, and race. Yet, at the same time, posthuman elements in these Latin American narratives exhibit distinct local traits. Moreover, robot and cyborg figures enhance and renew discourses of political corruption, dictatorial trauma, surveillance, social and ecological decline. This study aims to outline the ways in which Latin American posthuman science fiction stands apart from the canon and proves itself as a legitimate genre. Simultaneously, this project seeks to supplement the nascent critical corpus on Latin American science fiction. It is my hope that this study’s insights will contribute to the field’s growth and success with scholars and readers alike.