Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Enrico Mario Santí


This dissertation explores myth-making in Latin America by focusing specifically upon four Amerindian and mestizo figures: Doña Bárbara, mestiza protagonist of Rómulo Gallegos’ 1929 novel; Anacaona and Hatuey, Taíno caciques who first appeared in Bartolomé de las Casas’ Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (1552); and Andrés Chiliquinga, indigenous protagonist of Jorge Icaza’s Huasipungo (1934). The present analysis examines the evolution of these myths from their original appearance to literary and film versions throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries in the Caribbean and Andean regions. The project focuses upon the ways in which artists have interpreted these myths, their embedding in society’s collective memory, and their mythical functions in anti- and postcolonial discourse. By breaking down each myth into its most basic structure, this project identifies the core connotations contained within that reveal each myth’s function as a cultural foundation in Latin America. It also examines how the versions of a myth depart from one another, thus underscoring possible critiques of the myth. Finally, it examines the ways in which some of these myths have become commodities, particularly in contemporary popular culture. By examining these figures as cultural myths—bridging past and present—, this research argues that a mythic-interpretive model proves effective as it leads us to a deeper understanding of the universal connotations contained not only within the stories chosen here, but the Latin American narrative as a whole.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)