Insular Syntax. Archipelagic Thinking and Relational Literature.

Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Harvard University.

April 24, 2020.

Advisor: Mariano Siskind, Harvard University.

Doris Sommer, Harvard University.

Benita Sampedro-Vizcaya, Hofstra University.

Lisabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Vassar College.

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 that problematize the trope of the isolated-island and highlight 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.

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