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Como Aguja Imantada: Testimonio y el Proyecto Revolucionario en América Latina (1970-1989)

Marcus Vinícius Barbosa, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The testimonio genre has been at the center of discussions around the connections between literature and politics in Latin American over the past third-five years. Multiple authors have attempted to define its generic characteristics, focusing on the role of the first person, the inclusion of paratextual elements, or the discussion of violations of human rights. Surprisingly, the testimonio genre has not been fully understood within the frame of political history. This dissertation explores the relationships between the testimonio genre and the political culture of the Cuban revolution. Specifically, it attempts to approach the genre from the perspective of the Cold War, interpreting the phenomenon as an instrument of the revolutionary political culture. Culture was central in the Cold War in Latin America, and testimonio is only one of the many cultural expressions of the conflict in the region. Many critics agree about the role played by Casa de las Américas in the institutionalization and legitimation of the genre as an autonomous form of discourse. To test the hypothesis that the testimonio genre reproduces the discourse of the Cuban government about the role of the armed struggle and the necessity of a socialist revolution, this dissertation analyzes the winners of the Casa de las Américas literary prize between 1970 and 1989. First, the investigation analysis the awarded books through close reading, identifying their thematic patterns and their possible connections with a revolutionary political culture. Secondly, testimonios are studied through distant reading, employing stylometrics methods like Delta, Zeta, and n-grams. In this research, digital humanities methods are used to detect the degree of reproduction of the central concepts of revolutionary discourse. To verify such reproduction, the corpus of the awarded books is compared to the main promoters of the revolutionary discourse, such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Régis Debray. The results show that the awarded books reproduce the discourse of the revolutionary political discourse, and that such vocabulary constitutes one of their central distinctive characteristics.

Subject Area

Latin American literature|Latin American history|Linguistics

Recommended Citation

Barbosa, Marcus Vinícius, "Como Aguja Imantada: Testimonio y el Proyecto Revolucionario en América Latina (1970-1989)" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28652798.