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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

February

First Advisor

CATHERINE PORTUGES

Second Advisor

DAVID LENSON

Third Advisor

SARA LENNOX

Fourth Advisor

AGUSTIN LAO-MONTES

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | European Languages and Societies | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Other Film and Media Studies | Other Italian Language and Literature | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Women's Studies

Abstract

For several decades, Ecuadorian, U.S. American, and European social scientists have studied Ecuadorian migration to the European Union. Yet little academic research has been devoted to the comparative study of literary and filmic representations of diasporic Ecuadorians. This disparity between social science and literary studies research is especially evident in scholarship published in English, a gap this dissertation proposes to fill.

I investigate the discourses, cultural production, representations, and self-representations of diasporic Ecuadorians in Southern/Mediterranean Europe, specifically in Spain and Italy, where the largest diasporic communities of Ecuadorians in the European Union reside. I focus on a selection of works of fiction, poetry, and films, with particular attention given to texts by diasporic Ecuadorians. I argue that some of these recent texts point to a shift in epistemological standpoints, self-representational strategies, and political coalitional projects that differ from previous understandings and representations of the Ecuadorian migrant. I suggest that they gesture toward the narrative of a subject who not only exposes her subjectivities and experiences, but also connects these within larger translocal histories, revealing the global subalternization of migrants and critiquing dominant systems of power.

Since the mid-1990s, approximately 1.5 million Ecuadorian women and men from diverse geographical, social, and ethnoracial backgrounds (roughly 10 percent of the total population) have migrated to the European Union, particularly to Southern/Mediterranean Europe. Ecuadorian women often work as caretakers of the elderly, disabled, or the ill, while men work in construction and other manual labor. Unlike previous Ecuadorian migrations to the U.S., this migration was predominantly female and with a higher formal education than that of the average Ecuadorian population.

As subalternized, ethnicized, and racialized migrants, Ecuadorians are seldom viewed by mainstream European societies as narrators and inscribers of their own experiences and subjectivities, or as agents of knowledge production and self-representation. I suggest that intercultural projects such as poetry contests, developed by diasporic Ecuadorians in Genoa, have countered certain discursive formations regarding Ecuadorian youth in Italy by fostering their self-presentation as creators and producers of knowledge and culture. The texts analyzed advance the documentation of translocal Ecuadorian narratives in Southern/Mediterranean Europe.

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