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Open Access Publications from the University of California

El lugar de la locura: La construcción de la nación desde lo insano en la narrativa peruana

  • Author(s): Chauca, Edward
  • Advisor(s): Kristal, Efraín
  • et al.

My dissertation examines the relationship between madness and the development of the nation-state in Peruvian narrative from independence to the present. I use madness to scrutinize, through literature, the problems of the nation and the cultural solutions that some writers have offered to them. I organize a historical narrative in which madness plays a crucial role to expose, on one hand, how certain groups with political and economical dominance generate insane citizens in order to maintain their grip on power, and on the other hand, how some writers create a space of cultural resistance coming from sympathetic identifications with madness. My dissertation is organized chronologically in four chapters. In the first I expose how some writers from the 19th century (Narciso Aréstegui, Clorinda Matto de Turner, and Ricardo Palma) use madness to denounce caudillos', liberals', and clergy's abuses of power against the population. I underscore the importance of Palma, who finds in romantic madness and popular culture spaces of resistance as well as the social basis for politics that, in his view, would foster citizenship. In the second I study Clemente Palma's and César Vallejo's portrayal of madness to reflect the oligarchy's anxiety facing the processes and discourses of modernization at the beginning of the 20th century. In the third I use Enrique Congrains Martin's and José María Arguedas's representations of madness to reflect on the state and capitalist mechanisms of power that damage people's bodies and minds as a means of reproducing their authority at the middle of the 20th century. I pay close attention to Arguedas's exploration of myth, tragedy, and affection as cultural realms of defense against abuses from the state and the market. In the fourth I analyze how the debates on human rights influenced the representation of madness in the recent work of authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Alonso Cueto, Santiago Roncagliolo, and José de Piérola. I focus particularly on the influence that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had on the cultural sphere, as an attempt to overcome the shortcomings of the political system.

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