Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Dierdra Reber

Second Advisor

Dr. Mónica Díaz


This project examines the desire for national and international belonging and citizenship in the figure of the child intersectionally marked by race, class, and gender in contemporary Latin American film, a desire that is ultimately met only with precarity and violence. Chapter One analyzes the figure of the orphaned street child in terms of the desire for connection with a mother figure as a stand-in for the lack of affective community in Pixote: a lei do mais fraco (Brazil, 1981), La vendedora de rosas (Colombia, 1998), and Huelepega: ley de la calle (Venezuela, 1999) in which the protagonists either die, disappear or become entrenched in a life of crime which is mirrored in the real-life scenarios the young actresses and actors faced. Chapter Two studies the role of adolescent indigenous female protagonists as a function of how national belonging is correlated to the prestige in Madeinusa (Peru, 2006), La teta asustada (Peru, 2009) and Ixcanul (Guatemala, 2016) on international film circuits. Chapter Three focuses on the migrant child’s desire for belonging in the US in El Norte (Guatemala/USA, 1983), Which Way Home (Mexico/USA, 2009), and La jaula de oro(Mexico, 2012), a migration that is both ironic and tragic because it is historically driven by economically motivated US-backed state-sponsored violence, and ends with the dehumanization of the protagonists both in their countries of origin and the US. My dissertation argues that the child is a microcosm for the region as a whole, and the lack of belonging that the child experiences as an effect of intergenerational historical and political structural power and violence is analogous to Latin America’s frustrated attempts to come into its own both economically and culturally on a global scale.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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