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Title:Networks of paranoia: narratives of crime and detection in 21st century Latin America
Author(s):Chinchilla, Laura E
Director of Research:Rushing, Robert A; Beckman, Ericka
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rushing, Robert A
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hassan, Waïl S; Tosta, Luciano
Department / Program:Comparative & World Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Latin American literature
crime fiction
Abstract:This dissertation studies Latin American narratives of crime in the twenty-first century, arguing that these texts waver between the hyper-rationality of the crime fiction genre, and an affective state of paranoia. This project argues for a new understanding of crime fiction in the region, one that is not focused on urban life or a national literary history, but is grounded instead on the “networks” that organize contemporary everyday life. Throughout, I engage with the theoretical notions of paranoia and cognitive mapping found in the works of Frederic Jameson and Ricardo Piglia. Chapters One and Two explore the presence of technological networks in crime narratives. In Chapter One, I study the appearance of cellular phones in Brazilian films arguing that the technology allegorizes the social world, producing a paranoia grounded on interconnectivity. The films analyzed in this chapter, Jose Padilha’s Tropa de Elite 2: O inimigo agora é outro and Sérgio Bianchi’s Os Inquilinos, depict the use of mobile communication by the state, in the case of Padilha’s film, and a criminalized other that threatens domestic stability, in Bianchi’s film. In Chapter Two, I turn to a seemingly anachronistic technology, the train, to study neoliberal criminality along the post-NAFTA Mexican railways, where organized crime, “legitimate” capitalism, and migrants making their way to the United States intersect. Focusing on the train known as “The Beast,” this chapter looks at how this machine concretizes neoliberal interconnectivity. In this chapter I’m especially interested in how popular narratives about the train, Cary Fukunaga’s film Sin Nombre and Oscar Martinez’s chronicles Los migrantes que no importan, represent the flows of people, goods, and money moving from Central America to the United States, and the types of criminal activities that can (or cannot) be mapped along the migrant route. Chapters Three and Four are broadly centered on networks of finance and narcotrafficking. In Chapter Three I analyze Horacio Castellanos Moya’s La diabla en el espejo and Patricia Lara’s Hilo de sangre azul, two novels centered on financial crimes. Through paranoid female detectives, these novels present the post-conflict context of these countries as rife with suspicion and mistrust, where the more “legitimate” side of capitalism becomes linked to narcotrafficking. In Chapter Four I turn to Juan Villoro’s Arrecife, a novel that explores how tourism and narcotrafficking, two of Mexico’s most important links to the outside world, become linked. In this chapter I place Villoro’s text in the rich literary history of the paranoid, Caribbean space present in Cold War spy fiction. Because of this, I read the novel through Ian Fleming’s travel writing. I argue that Villoro critiques the consumption of these seemingly isolated, edenic spaces; a critique that can be ultimately extended to the global consumption of crime fiction.
Issue Date:2015-11-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Laura Chinchilla
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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