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Daguerreotypy, Optical Metaphors, and Visual Power in Echeverría’s "El matadero"


Although Esteban Echeverría’s El matadero has inspired a wide array of interpretations, as of yet, no critic has studied the text’s visual character in relation to the historical events affecting Río de la Plata society in Echeverría’s day: namely the popularization of the daguerreotype, the image driven propaganda promoted by the Federalist regime, and the surveillance technologies employed by the so-called mazorca. Here, I argue that Echeverría’s work articulates the epoch’s profound anxiety regarding the purposeful visual ordering of society. Ultimately, El matadero both participates in and critiques the hegemonic discourse of organized visuality that characterized Juan Manuel Rosa's Argentina.

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