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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Caricaturas del Otro: Contra-Representaciones Satíricas de la Inmigración en la Literatura y la Cultura Visual Española Contemporánea (1993-2017)

  • Author(s): Collado, Adrian Alejandro
  • Advisor(s): De Zubiaurre, Maria Teresa
  • et al.

Immigration is one of the most pressing issues of our time. In the case of Spain, immigration has increased notably during the past three decades. There is no doubt that immigration has changed Spanish society, but what is the role of cultural representations regarding the migrant experience? In recent years, immigration has captured the attention of a diverse group of artists in Spain—non-immigrant and immigrant Spaniards alike. Male and female writers, filmmakers, and visual artists often challenge the biased image of migration portrayed by the media. However, these representations are also not free of prejudice. Many of these works, although conceived with good intentions, insist on the exhibition of suffering, while reinforcing sensationalist ideas of racialization, helplessness, and tragedy. Beyond these images of victimization and despair, I am interested in the counter-representations that challenge the conventional notions about immigration that prevail in Spanish media. In my dissertation I study counter-representations of immigration to contemporary Spain in the works of late twentieth and early twenty-first century Spanish authors. What I found is that – while immigration has received critical and creative attention as a tragic phenomenon –humor, parody, and ironic subversion reshape our comprehension of migration, complicate the unilateral image presented by the media and other forms of mainstream representation, and criticize the spectacularization of the suffering migrant. I argue that the works of Spanish non-migrant authors such as Eduardo Mendicutti, Juan Bonilla and Hernán Migoya, and Spanish migrant artists such as Quan Zhou Wu and Yellow Power among others, use humor as a rhetorical strategy that contests stereotypes about immigration. Focusing on forms of cultural representation such as urban art, graphic novels, science fiction novels, and animated short films, this interdisciplinary project bridges literature, film, and popular culture produced by canonical and non-canonical authors, opening new lines of research on these untapped discourses on immigration. The works that I study distance themselves from a paternalistic model and propose different versions of the immigrant. I study these works as cultural manifestations that parody certain negative attitudes of Spanish society against immigration. I pay attention to how these attitudes are articulated through humor, and simultaneously exercise a satirical self-criticism of Spanish identity.

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