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Current Research

My research interests are centered around the intersections between spatial theory and Hispanic literature and film. My recent book projects interpret the representation of urban space in contemporary Latin American culture.

Cultures of the City: Mediating Identities in Urban Latin/o America (anthology)
Co-editor with Richard Young. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.

This volume aims to contribute to an understanding of Latin American cities by considering the relation between city and culture and how this relationship is expressed in different forms of representation. The essays will offer readings of particular urban cultural phenomena and collectively offer a broad view of urban cultures in contemporary Latin America that will interest specialists of various disciplines and also appeal to students. Although the urban environments and phenomena of Europe, Asia and North America predominate in writings about cities in English-language presses there is a growing bibliography in English about Latin American cities. Much of the work on urban Latin America draws on commentary produced elsewhere, applying concepts borrowed from, among other sources, Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, and North American urban and architectural theory, but it also addresses the specificity of Latin America through consideration of concepts and categories particular to the region. By addressing issues common to both Urban and Latin American Studies, the volume proposed here will therefore draw on current discourses in both fields and aim to offer a conceptually rich interpretation in English of the contemporary Latin American city including models of analysis of cultural representation that will be of value to scholars and students of the urban phenomena of both Latin America and other regions.

City Fictions: Language, Body and Latin American Urban Space (monograph)
Lewisburg: Pittsburgh University Press, 2007. 212 pages.

Using concepts from urban and cultural studies, my book illuminates how five important late twentieth-century Latin American authors represent the city. While the work of Octavio Paz, Julio Cortázar, Cristina Peri Rossi, Diamela Eltit and Carlos Monsiváis is each influenced at least partially by a specific Latin American city, be it Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Montevideo or Santiago, the element bringing these authors together lies in how the city is fictionalized in their work: they all equate both language and the body with urban space. In these metaphors, language breaks down and the body disintegrates creating a disturbing picture of violent decline. The work of Octavio Paz associates the urban surroundings with both dissolving sentences and desensitized fingertips; for Julio Cortázar, characters walking through cities are seen as both creating and unraveling written texts; or Cristina Peri Rossi questions the categories that define at once narrative, corporeal and urban identities. The representation of the city through linguistic and corporeal metaphors of rupture reflects a reaction to both political violence and the adoption of untenable economic policies in Latin America in the last three decades of the twentieth century.

Funded by: Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture.