Raza, genero, espacio social y carnaval: El papel de la cultura en la representacion simbolica de la nacion colombiana

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member

Lillian Manzour - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Steven F. Butterman - Committee Member


In this dissertation, I analyze social, political, and cultural discourses and representations, both dominant and dissenting that are centered on the discussion of a Colombian nation and national identity. I explore modes of representation recurrent in texts from three different disciplines. Through an analysis of the Carnival in Barranquilla, the novel Disfrazate como quieras, and the film El ultimo carnival , I argue that Colombian identity exists in the form of a contrast between an official vision---seen through the ideological apparatus of the Carnival of Barranquilla---and an unofficial one, also found in carnival as well as in literature and film. The official version exalts marginality and manipulates tradition and the Colombian cultural heritage (carnival) in an attempt to conceal a history of violence and government weakness. The State uses its power to control the mass media, depicting an apparatus of the symbolic capital that goes so far as to bring unequal economic benefits to certain sectors. The unofficial version uses cultural codes inscribed in Colombian society to reveal social differences and a lack of State control. The marginal subjects' participation in the carnival of Barranquilla, the novel, and the film all become acts of unmasking, of denunciation, and of social critique.The three texts studied in this work deconstruct official views of the nation by introducing and then eliminating exemplary gender figures that embody a drive toward national destiny. The representation of masculine and feminine subjects who do no fit into normative and naturalizing patriarchal parameters reveals and calls into question the crisis of the Colombian State, as well as that of traditionally idealized subjects. Thus, the texts suggest ethical and aesthetical questionings counter to the country's conflict-ridden situation and the imposition of hegemonic official views that resist the admission of racial and sexual differences. Unfortunately, these instances of reaffirmation of marginal subjects are ephemeral, but this does not diminish their importance and relevance, as they occasionally open up spaces from which to parody, confront, and call into question the vision imposed by those who hold the power, giving voice to an alternate national story.


Literature, Latin American; Cinema

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