Atlas de Prodigios: La imaginación geográfica colonial y sus replanteamientos en la ficción histórica contemporánea

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2019-12

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Abstract

A Prodigious Atlas: The Colonial Geographical Imagination and its Rethinking in Contemporary Historical Fiction is a dissertation that traces the discursive and representational strategies employed in colonial texts and maps from the 15th-17th centuries, which intervened in the Western, colonial and imperial imaginative geographies regarding the so-called New World. Based on a geocritical analysis of certain chronicles of the Indies such as Gaspar de Carvajal’s Relación (c. 1543) or José de Acosta’s Historia natural (1590), as well as maps such as Martin Waldseemüller’s Universalis Cosmographia (1507), I argue that these discursive and representational strategies operated as three distinctive devices (dispositifs/apparatuses): (1) the cartographic impulse, (2) the imperial cartographic gaze, and (3) the fetishization of nature, which exerted three operations on Latin America’s geographic space: (a) the (re)mythization of space as Edenic, bountiful and inexhaustible; (b) the reduction of all spatial relations to the bi-dimensionality of the map or the text; and (c) the abstraction of the geographic space through rationalizing and techno-scientific discursivities. The resultant Western/colonial imaginary geographies produced a schizo-morph image of Latin America’s geographic space: attainable yet ever-expanding; inapprehensible yet rationalized; hostile yet possessable. Furthermore, this dissertation advances a geo/ecocritical and decolonial analysis of the ways in which contemporary historical narratives from Colombia (specifically novels of the Conquest) rethink and dispute those Western/colonial imaginative geographies. I argue that the novels achieve this in two ways: first, by elaborating geographical representations of the New World which emphasize the phenomenological (sensorial, perceptive) and existential experience of colonial subjects (both colonizers and colonized); and, second, by incorporating Other epistemologies and subjectivities such as those of the indigenous cultures. By doing so, these narratives reinstate the complex, territorial dimensionality of geographic space, and propose an alternate relationship with geography and nature that is more mutualistic and horizontal, thus distancing itself from its vertical, Western and logo-anthropocentric counterpart. The novels of the Conquest analyzed in this section are: Muy Caribe está (1999) by Mario Escobar Velásquez, and William Ospina’s trilogy, comprised by Ursúa (2005), El país de la canela (2008), and La serpiente sin ojos (2012). Finally, I propose that, given the attributes and the modes of reading that these novels advance, they can be understood as decolonial literary geographies and/or topologies.

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Keywords

Atlas, Geographical imagination, Imaginación geográfica, Imaginative geographies, Geografías imaginarias, Colonialism, Estudios coloniales, Giro decolonial, Decolonial turn, Literature, Literatura, Ficción histórica, Historical fiction, Novel of the conquest, Novela de la conquista, Muy caribe está, Escobar Velásquez, Mario, Ospina, William, Ursúa, El país de la canela, La serpiente sin ojos, Novela histórica, Geocrítica, Ecocrítica, Geografía literaria, Literary geography, Colonial literary geography, de Carvajal, Gaspar, Impulso cartográfico, Cartographic impulse, Imperial gaze, Mirada imperial, Fetishization of nature, Fetichización de la naturaleza, Amazonas, Descubrimiento, Discovery, Crónica de Indias, Chronicle of the Indies

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