This dissertation studies the intersection of travel, state formation, and war in late 19th century Latin America. It studies how the rhetoric of travel introduces different conceptualizations of space and time in four moments of war in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. I suggest that wars waged against "deserts" are actually means of generating empty spaces, which are the condition for a new foundation. In the second half of the 19th century, the desert is no longer a fantasy or a fiction, as it is in the earlier writings of Latin American intellectuals, but becomes a tragic reality. War is the key instrument for this desertification, and for the state's subsequent appropriation of these spaces. While the nineteenth century is commonly associated with nation building, this study focuses on the processes of modernization of the state apparatuses, which become increasingly identified with war.
The first chapter analyzes Richard Burton's Letters From the Battle Fields of Paraguay (1870), which describes the Paraguayan War (1864–1870), in which Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay joined their forces against Paraguay. The second chapter examines William H. Hudson's novel The Purple Land (1885), which narrates the protagonist's participation in the Uruguayan civil wars of the 1860s. The third chapter approaches Francisco Moreno's Viaje a la Patagonia austral (1879) in the context of the "Conquest of the Desert" (1879–1885), the war of extermination waged against the Patagonian native peoples by the Argentinian State. Finally, I discuss Euclides da Cunha's Os sertões (1902), which recounts the Canudos War (1897), a massacre of rural rebellious peoples in the Brazilian sertão. In these texts I analyze what I call "rhetorics of vanishing" ("retóricas del desvanecimiento"), the oblique ways in which extermination and destruction are narrated. These travelogues describe massacres through what is left of them. While war itself remains elusive to narration, the traveler's gaze focuses on that which is not the battle but still makes it present and concrete. I explore the double relationship that ruins bear to war: while they express death and decay, they are also a form of persistence or resistance.
|Adviser||Mary Louise Pratt|
|School||NEW YORK UNIVERSITY|
|Subjects||Comparative literature; Latin American literature; Latin American studies|
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