AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

In the Wake of '68: Literature and the Cultural Politics of Democracy in Contemporary Mexico.

by Manuel Alberto Chinchilla

Institution: University of Michigan
Department: Romance Languages & Literatures: Spanish
Degree: PhD
Year: 2009
Keywords: Latin American Literature; 20th Century Mexican Literature; Contemporary Mexican Politics; Latin American History; Romance Languages and Literature; Humanities
Record ID: 1854446
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/63830


This is an interdisciplinary project which examines the relation between culture and the political sphere in Mexico through the study of literature, film, and photography produced as a response to recent social movements. In this work I trace the birth of civil society as an oppositional force to State politics and as the producer of a new brand of grassroots democracy in the Student Movement of 1968. I then seek to link the political innovations performed by the students to the mobilizations that took place in the second half of the 80’s. The objective is to trace the development of autonomous political movements whose militancy stands against the State apparatus. My materials of study consist of testimonial writing, urban chronicles, political essays and novels. In the first chapter I discuss the political writings of José Revueltas, with the purpose of explaining the Student Movement’s effort to break away from the corporative system sponsored by the PRI. In my analysis I demonstrate how the ‘68 movement considered university autonomy a fundamental component in the conception of a political theory based on self-management (or ‘autogestión’) and the organization of civil society. The second chapter examines Luis González de Alba’s Los días y los años, a novel that narrates life in Lecumberri Prison. The novel depicts political prisoners’ efforts to reignite activism on the outside via a hunger strike, allowing a reading of ‘68 that does not identify it solely with the Tlatelolco massacre – which is often constructed as an economy of martyrdom that understands the students’ struggle only from the point of view of the State violence it suffered. The third chapter analyzes La noche de Tlatelolco by Elena Poniatowska and the documentary El grito by Leobardo López Arretche in order to assess how these testimonial works create a political language later used by other movements. A fourth and last chapter examines the detective fiction of Paco Taibo II as narratives in which the ghosts of ‘68 and the political activism of the late 80’s suggest a democratic turn that affected the 1988 elections and renewed popular politics.