UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

“Máquinas y autómatas : retratos de la mujer amazónica y su relación con la naturaleza en la literatura del auge de la extracción del caucho (1879-1914)” Moscoso-Garay, Marcos


My research examines the representation of women during the Amazon Rubber Boom in the work of novelists and filmmakers. Portrayals of the Amazon in Latin American literature tend to fixate upon gender and nature (and the relationship between them). They demonstrate the stereotyped and idealized way in which Amazonian women and nature have been understood. I consider that the character of the Amazonian women has not been studied enough. I show that the female character has been simplified to a kind of machine object (automaton) by the artists who intend to criticize the system created at the time of extraction of rubber in the Amazon. I study eleven novels written across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, emphasizing one in each chapter: Páginas bárbaras (1914), Los Shiringeros (1965) and Manaos (1973). These works take the reader back to the time of rubber exploitation from different perspectives, demonstrating a literary system created in relation to long-lasting stereotypes. These novels also highlight the ambivalence of these stereotypes about women and nature, both of which are portrayed as beautiful and sensual, but also dangerous and wild. In some cases (Mendoza, for instance), writers try to re-evaluate Amazonian cultures, re-articulating these stereotypes in positive fashion. In other cases (Rivera and Vargas Llosa), women and nature are simply condemned to ever-lasting ambivalence. My purpose is to show the ways in which industrial modernization and the modes and relations of capitalist production helped to perpetuate stereotypes of gender in the Amazon. More specifically, I investigate how these artists under study—like Jaime Mendoza, Lino La Rosa Olazábal and Alberto Vázquez Figueroa—react to, problematize, and criticize the discourse of progress, the hope in capital, the systematic process of death, torture and slavery against indigenous women at the time of rubber extraction. However, that attempted criticism of the system does not manage to be effective because it is mediated by a discourse of modernity that keeps stereotyping Amazonian women by using the metaphor of the automaton woman.

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