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Mining literature in the Andes : mineral narratives from Peru, Bolivia and Chile in the twentieth century. Hernandez, Juan Felipe


This thesis examines twentieth-century Latin American novels that consider the figure of the miner, the mine and the role of the mineral in their plots. I focus on narrative and poetic texts from Bolivia, Chile and Peru to analyze the affect that the hyperobject global mining exerts over human and non-human bodies depicted in the narratives. One of the goals of this project is to call attention to a set of forces and processes previously ignored by critics, such as the impact of mining on spaces and individuals during long temporalities, or the intensity of the mineral and the metallic over larger social processes that have shaped modern Latin American History. Narratives such as En las tierras de Potosí (1911), by Jaime Mendoza, allow me to do so by highlighting the affective intensity arising from the relation between the body of the miner and the mineral. I employ interdisciplinary concepts such as the hyperobject, elaborated by literary critic Timothy Morton, and the assemblage and becoming, from French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, to better understand the interactive processes unleashed by the intensity of this contact. Using the framework of Affect Theory, I argue that the metallic mineral described in the Chilean gold-rush novel Llampo de sangre (1950) becomes a determinant that not only releases movement across geography but also lethal violence. Lastly, and as the discussion approaches the present, I discuss the mine as an absent center in the global chain of production and distribution represented in Peruvian novels of the late twentieth century. I argue that Peruvian mining literature allow us to identify lines of deterritorialization and escape as they materialize into lines of flight in the canonical texts of José María Arguedas’s Todas las sangres (1964) and Mario Vargas Llosa’s Lituma en los Andes (1993).

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