Theses Doctoral

Contesting Globalization: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Atlantic World Economy

Perisic, Alexandra

This dissertation examines how contemporary narrative fiction in French and Spanish represents experiences of migration and the circulation of capital and goods in the globalized Atlantic. I argue that the attempt to imagine an increasingly globalized world has been accompanied by a waning interest in character development and an increased interest in what could be characterized as the spatial dimension of literature. Many recent `global fictions' present readers with impenetrable characters whose interiority is inaccessible. The lack of depth is, however, replaced by geographical breadth. As characters move through space, bringing into relation several different geographical locations, authors draw attention to transnational sites of marginalization and imagine alternative power configurations.
Several important studies have examined the engagement of Francophone writers with globalization in the late 20th and early 21st century. While these readings are sophisticated and persuasive, they remain confined within the Francophone context, rarely establishing comparisons with the Anglophone and the Hispanophone contexts. We thus end up with somewhat contradictory concepts such as Francophone or Hispanophone transnationalism,`world literature' and globalization. This seems even more paradoxical given that several Francophone writers, including Maryse Condé and Edouard Glissant, have set their novels in non-Francophone countries. My dissertation undertakes translinguistic literary criticism in order to address this gap in critical discourse.
I limit my focus to what I term the Atlantic world economy, that is, the countries touched by the Atlantic triangle and marked by a history of population displacement and cultural mixing inaugurated through colonial slavery. The authors I have selected position their work in the Atlantic framework. Some more explicitly, like Fatou Diome whose novel is entitled The belly of the Atlantic. Others, like Maryse Condé and Roberto Bolaño, by moving protagonists between some of the major centers of the Atlantic economy. They all, however, pose the question of a globalized Atlantic, distancing themselves from the Atlantic as a triangular space, and reframing it as a space encompassing many poles. The notion of the globalized Atlantic further underscores the tension between a regional framework and a globalized world within which these authors are operating.
At the turn of the 21st century movements resisting the effects of global capitalism have come into existence in several countries, including Egypt, Chile, the United States, Brazil and Turkey. These modes of activism require us to recalibrate some of our geopolitical categories as a way of thinking about transnational citizenship. The authors in my corpus deploy literary
strategies that complement the activism of global socioeconomic and political movements. This dissertation focuses on their imagining of narrative fiction as a space that is both globalized and resistant to the dominant political and economic dimensions of globalization.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Thesis Advisors
Dobie, Madeleine
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014