Insular Syntax. Archipelagic Thinking and Relational Literature.

Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Harvard University.

April 24, 2020.

Advisor: Mariano Siskind, Harvard University.

My dissertation compared 20th-century postcolonial literary texts from Equatorial Guinea, The Canary Islands, Cuba, and Puerto Rico as a means of understanding the specificities of insular cultural production, and the role of islands within Spanish colonialism and neo-colonial legacies. My comparative analysis of insular texts produced in different timelines and cultural locations required a cross-disciplinary approach in the framework of Global Hispanophone, Environmental Humanities, and Island Studies. From this point, I developed a de-centered model of analysis and transnational comparative methodology, called "insular syntax," that problematizes the trope of the isolated-island and highlights its extraordinary relational capacity as a historical epicenter of cultural, human, and material exchange. I argued that thinking of island spaces in terms of absolute separation entails anchoring in a dichotomous epistemology of center/periphery in which the island stands as an apprehensible space, physically and geographically delimited (and limited), and therefore susceptible to being located on the margins.
My inter-insular comparison and post
-continental approach led to the development of a new and more inclusive term to refer to the field of Peninsular Studies: I proposed the concept of (Pen)Insular Studies as a way to incorporate and make visible the traditionally neglected archipelagic spaces of Spain.

Martin De la Nuez, Thenesoya Vidina, and Harvard University. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Insular Syntax. Archipelagic Thinking and Relational Literature. 2020.

"Islante (No2)," by Cuban artist Antonio Eligio Fernández "Tonel." Image courtesy of the artist.