Research

My research is located at the intersections of the cultural politics of emotion and the current debates on the relation between human rights and narrative empathy in Latin American literature. Employing what I define as reflexive empathy, it explores the political dimensions of emotional bonds in literature and film, understood as identifications constructed through social negotiation among readers, fictional characters, and social groups involved in internal conflicts. Although there have been insightful studies on contemporary Latin American cultural production and its relation to emotions, none focus on the literary analysis of affect in human rights narratives. This research explains how these imaginative connections are shaped by the violent enactment of power through contemporary history in the region. My approach traces how alternative identifications are represented in novels and films, which oppose official narratives. As part of this project, I am co-editing with Professor Kevin Guerrieri the volume Human Rights in Colombian Literature and Cultural Production: Embodied Enactments, under contract with Routledge Press. 

My current book project, Contested Identifications: The Politics of Empathy in 21st Century Latin American Human Rights Literature, analyzes the ideological constructions behind fictional narratives that bring about emotional bonds between readers and the objects of narrative in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia. I examine novels such as Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez (2004), Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s El material humano (The Human Material, 2009), Claudia Hernandez’s Roza, tumba, quema (Slash and Burn, 2017), Evelio Rosero’s Los ejércitos (The Armies, 2007), Alonso Sánchez Baute’s Líbranos del bien (Deliver us from Good, 2008), and Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s El ruido de las cosas al caer (The Sound of Things Falling, 2011), written in response to the violent histories of both regions: in Guatemala and El Salvador, with the aftermath of the civil war (1960-1996; 1979-1992 respectively) and the Mayan genocide (1981-1983), in which nearly 200,000 people were killed; in Colombia, with a society ad portas of a post-conflict era, haunted by the deaths of 180,000 civilians and the displacement of nearly six million persons during the longest internal war in this hemisphere’s history (1960-2016). The novels foreground the questions of who in these internal conflicts is worthy of our empathy and if these narratives can promote the healing of a shared, traumatic past in such societies. My book explores how the texts problematize these identifications in their interpretations of the past, beyond schematic depictions of victims and perpetrators. I argue that the novels present complex configurations of empathy in Latin America that disrupt the articulation of emotions by the official discourse through symbolic violence. My project supports a reflexive view of empathy that invites the reader to re-evaluate such articulations. 

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Academic Journals or Edited Books

“Horror neoliberal y espectros subversivos en La llorona de Jayro Bustamante”. Narrativas del miedo en Latinoamérica II. Eds. Marco Ramírez and David Rozotto (Forthcoming 2021)

“Towards New Human Rights Narratives? Reflections on Migration and Violence in Daniel Ferreira’s Rebelión de los oficios inútiles.” Human Rights and Colombian Cultural Production. (Forthcoming 2021)

“Violence, Slow and Explosive: Spectrality, Landscape, and Trauma in Evelio Rosero’s Los ejércitos.” “Ecofictions, Ecorealities and Slow Violence in Latin America and the Latinx World” Eds. Ana María Mutis, Ilka Kressner, and Elizabeth Pettinaroli. Routledge, pp 162-179, 2019.

“Derechos humanos y corporeidad en Los ejércitos de Evelio Rosero.” Chasqui: revista de literatura latinoamericana Vol. 46, 1, pp. 139-152. 2017.

Work reviewed by Victoria Carpenter in the Spanish-American Studies section of The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies Volume 79 No 1, 2019, pp 309–321.

“Derechos humanos, sujeto liberal y empatía en Los ejércitos de Evelio Rosero.” Evelio Rosero y los ciclos de la creación literaria. Eds. Felipe Gómez Gutiérrez and María del Carmen Saldarriaga. Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, pp. 193-216, 2017.

[Reviews of Evelio Rosero y los ciclos de la creación literaria by Elsa Leticia García Argüelles and Héctor Hoyos]

“Una relectura de la violencia en Los papeles del infierno de Enrique Buenaventura.” Teatro. Revista de estudios culturales / A Journal of Cultural Studies No. 28, 2014, pp. 135-153.

Niebla de Unamuno más allá de Kierkegaard. Amor y polifonía como superación del naturalismo.” Folios no. 39, 2014, pp. 173-85.

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Los papeles del infierno de Enrique Buenaventura”; “A la diestra de Dios padre de Enrique Buenaventura.” Revista Arcadia. Especial Arcadia 100. 2014, pp. 24-34.

Work in Progress

Human Rights and Colombian Cultural Production. (in collaboration with Kevin Guerrieri) Edited volume in preparation (Routledge, 2021).

Derechos humanos y las políticas de la empatía en la literatura latinoamericana del siglo XXI. Book manuscript in preparation.

The Exhaustion of Humanitarianism? / ¿El agotamiento del Humanitarismo? Dossier in preparation for Co-herencia. Volume 19 No 36. Co-edited in collaboration with Luis Fernando Restrepo and Jorge Iván Bonilla (2022).

New Perspectives on Violence in Contemporary Colombian Cultural Production. Dossier in preparation for A Contracorriente: una revista de estudios latinoamericanos. Co-edited in collaboration with professors Juanita Bernal & Camilo Malagón (2022).

“Polyphonic Narratives of Forced Migration: The Case of Emiliano Monge’s Las tierras arrasadas and Antonio Ortuño’s La fila india.” Article in preparation for the dossier The Exhaustion of Humanitarianism? / ¿El agotamiento del Humanitarismo? (2022)

“Emociones, empatía y violencia en Líbranos del bien de Alonso Sánchez Baute.” Article in preparation for the dossier New Perspectives on Violence in Contemporary Colombian Cultural Production. (2022)

“Derechos humanos en la frontera: una lectura de Señales que precederán al fin del mundo de Yuri Herrera.” Article in preparation.

“Políticas de la empatía y la reconciliación en la post-dictadura argentina: Dos veces junio de Martín Kohan.” Article in preparation.

Conference Papers

“Polyphonic Narratives of Forced Migration: The Case of Emiliano Monge’s Las tierras arrasadas.” Seminar «The Exhaustion of Humanitarianism?» ACLA 2020. April 9-11.

“Affects in South-South Migration Narratives from Latin America.” Roundtable «Discourses of Borders/Borders in Discourses.» Association for Borderlands Studies conference. April 15, 2020.

“Los muros del sur: Exclusión y necropolítica en La fila india de Antonio Ortuño.” KFLC (Online) April 22nd – 24th, 2021.

Participants and organizers of the RIM Symposium.

“Racial Borders in Latin American Migration Narratives.” Race and Identity Matters Symposium (RIM). New England Humanities Consortium. UConn. February 29, 2020.

“Las políticas de los afectos: empatía corporeizada en Roza tumba quema de Claudia Hernández.” Panel doble: «Crítica latinoamericanista después del giro afectivo». LASA 2019. May 27, 2019. Boston, MA.

The audience in our panel at LASA 2018.

“Narrativas de derechos humanos, memoria y afectos: el caso de Líbranos del bien de Alonso Sánchez Baute”. KFLC April 11-13, 2019.

“Critical Approaches to Empathy in Human Rights Narratives: Claudia Salazar Jimenez’s La sangre de la aurora and Claudia Hernandez’s Roza tumba quema.” Seminar «Human Rights and Cultural Production in the Americas». ACLA 2019, March 7-10, Washington, DC.

“¿Hacia una nueva narrativa de derechos humanos? Reflexiones sobre la violencia en Rebelión de los oficios inútiles de Daniel Ferreira”. Panel: «Nuevas perspectivas sobre la violencia en la cultura colombiana».  KFLC. Lexington, KY. April 19-21, 2018.

“Reflective Empathy and Human Rights Narratives: The Case of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez.” Seminar: «Topographies of Narrative Empathy: The Social and the Cognitive». March 28 – April 1. ACLA 2018. UCLA, Los Angeles, California.

“Cuerpo, violencia y memoria en Los estratos de Juan Sebastián Cárdenas.” Mesa «Violencia y memoria en la cultura colombiana contemporánea». XX Congreso de Colombianistas. University of San Diego, California. August 5, 2017.

“Memoria, trauma y empatía en el Ruido de las cosas al caer de Juan Gabriel Vásquez”. Panel «Olvido y desmemoria». LASA 2017. Lima, Perú. May 1, 2017.

“Derechos humanos, melancolía y comunidad en Señales que precederán al fin del mundo de Yuri Herrera.” LASA 2016. Panel: «Derechos humanos, violencia y comunidad en México». New York. May 29, 2016.

“Derechos humanos en la frontera: una lectura de Señales que precederán al fin del mundo de Yuri Herrera. / Human Rights in the Border: a Reading of Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World.Borderlands: A Critical Graduate Symposium. University of Connecticut, Storrs. April 30, 2016.

“Derechos humanos y empatía en perspectiva: el caso de Rodrigo Rey Rosa y Horacio Castellanos Moya” NeMLA 2016. Seminar «Human Rights Narratives in Latin America: Memory and Citizenship». Hartford, Connecticut. March 20, 2016.

“Comunidades emocionales y terror en El ruido de las cosas al caer de Juan Gabriel Vásquez” LASA 2015: Precariedades, exclusiones, emergencias. Panel: «Human Rights and Crisis in Literature and Visual Culture». San Juan, Puerto Rico. May 28, 2015.

“Human Rights, Irony and the Politics of Empathy in the Narratives of Post-conflict Guatemala.” NeMLA 2015. Panel: «Human Rights Narratives in a Globalized Latin America». Toronto, Canada. May 1, 2015.

“Políticas de la empatía en la post-dictadura: Dos veces junio de Martín Kohan” NeMLA 2015. Round Table: «The Struggle for Recognition: The Hispano-American Novel in the 21st Century» Toronto, Canada. May 2, 2015.

“Human Rights Discourse Translated: The Novel and the Archive.” LANGSA Graduate conference: Found in Translation: Transposing Identity across Space and Time. University of Connecticut, November 7, 2014.

“Derechos humanos, sujeto liberal y empatía en Los ejércitos de Evelio Rosero.” LASA 2014: Democracy & Memory. Panel «War Logics, Tropes of Violence, and Human Rights in the Americas» Chicago, Illinois. May 24, 2014.

Our panel in LASA 2015.

“Environment and Conflict in Evelio Rosero’s The Armies” NeMLA 2014. Seminar «Postcolonialism and Ecocriticism». Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. April 6, 2014.

“Evelio Rosero’s The Armies: An Embodied Account of Human Rights.” Graduate Human Rights Conference. Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, Storrs. September 18, 2013.

“Violencia estructural y mujer en Los papeles del infierno de Enrique Buenaventura.” XVIII Congreso de Colombianistas La mujer en Colombia. Regis College, Weston, Massachusetts. July 12, 2013.

Panel organizer/Chair

Seminar: “The Exhaustion of Humanitarianism?” ACLA 2021. April 8 – 11. (Online. Forthcoming)

Panel: “Fronteras, muros, barreras: inclusiones y exclusiones en la producción cultural latinoamericana” KFLC April 22 – 24, 2021. (Online. Forthcoming)

Panel: «Crítica latinoamericanista después del giro afectivo». LASA. May 27, 2019.  Boston, MA.

Panel: «Cultural Imaginaries of the Colombian Present, from Conflict to Post-Conflict. » KFLC. University of Kentucky, April 11– 13, 2019. Lexington, KY.

Presenters after our panel at KFLC 2019.

Panel: Nuevas perspectivas sobre la violencia en la cultura colombiana. KFLC. University of Kentucky, April 19-21, 2018. Lexington, KY.

Participants after the discussion in our panels at KFLC 2018.

 Seminar: Topographies of Narrative Empathy: The Social and the Cognitive. March 28 – April 1. ACLA 2018. UCLA, Los Angeles, California.

Closing our seminar at ACLA 2018.

Panel: «Derechos humanos, violencia y comunidad en México». May 29, 2016. LASA. New York.

Seminar: Human Rights Narratives in Latin America: Memory and Citizenship. March 20P, 2016. NeMLA 2016. Hartford, Connecticut.

 Round Table: The Struggle for Recognition: The Hispano-American Novel in the 21st Century. May 2nd, 2015. NeMLA 2015. Toronto, Canada.

Panel: Human Rights and Crisis in Literature and Visual Culture. May 28, 2015. LASA, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Seminar: Postcolonialism and Ecocriticism. April 6th 2014. NeMLA 2014. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Invited Talks

“Taller multimodal sobre derechos humanos latinoamericanos”. UConn Early College Experience. Professional development conference for certified ECE Spanish Instructors. UConn, February 26, 2021.

“The Dark Side of Human Rights in Latin America.” (with Nelson Gutiérrez) Webinar. Latin American and Latinx Studies program. Rhodes College. October 15, 2020.

“Narraciones polifónicas sobre migración forzada: el caso de Las tierras arrasadas de Emiliano Monge y La fila india de Antonio Ortuño”. Spanish Department Colloquium. Colby College. November 12, 2019.

“Gender, Violence, and Empathy in Post-Conflict Central America: The Case of Claudia Hernandez’s Tumba roza quema.” Office of Peace and Justice Research Lunch, Loyola University Maryland. February 26, 2019.

“Slow Violence in Evelio Rosero’s Los ejércitos.” Junior Faculty Symposium in the Humanities, Loyola University Maryland. September 21, 2018.

“Human Rights and the Cultural Politics of Empathy in the Colombian (post) Conflict”. Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, University of Kentucky, Lexington.  January 30th, 2018.

“Failed Empathy in Human Rights Narratives: The Case of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez.” Dissertation Fellow Presentation. Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, Storrs. December 5, 2017.

“Comments on Michel Franco’s Después de Lucía.” Spanish Film Club, Trinity College. Hartford, Connecticut. September 24, 2014.

“Cantando el movimiento: sobre la exposición Making the Movement Move: Photography, Student Activism, and Civil Rights.” William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. March 25, 2014.