Alessandra Santos

Associate Professor

Research Interests

Artistic and Literary Analysis Models
Artistic and Literary Theories
Arts and Cultural Traditions
Arts and Technologies
Brazilian Literature and Culture
Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies
Latin American Literatures and Cultures
Modern and Contemporary Literatures and Cultures

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Research Methodology

Literary and Cultural Analysis
critical theory
Socio-Historical Contextualization


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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Imagenes afro: las politicas de representacion de la subjetividad negra en el cine colombiano contemporaneo (2009-2017). Afro images: politics of representation of the black subjectivity in the contemporary Colombian cinema (2009-2017) (2023)

No abstract available.

Demarcating screen space: cosmopolitical technologies at video nas aldeias (2020)

In this case study of the organization and film and video archive known as Vídeo nas Aldeias (Video in the Villages or VNA), founded in 1986 by Vincent Carelli, I develop an argument for VNA as a critical filmic archive worthy of study and safeguarding. Crucially, I examine VNA as a producer of knowledge through an interdisciplinary framework. Its collection comprises over ninety films on and by Indigenous peoples, representing over forty Indigenous nations across Brazil. As a practicing media artist and filmmaker, I apply an interdisciplinary framework to develop philosophical arguments and film analyses to conceptualizing VNA’s archive as a pluriversal and anti-colonial technology of knowledge. Over-arching concepts of visual sovereignty, as elaborated by Native American scholars Michelle H. Raheja (Seneca) and Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora Nation), as well as concepts by Laura R. Graham to include representational sovereignty, as theoretical frameworks with which to examine individual films and the archive as a whole, guide my analysis. I use Amalia Córdoba and Juan Salazar’s discussion of “imperfect media” to root my analysis in Latin American theory. I argue that the films are constituent of cosmopolitical processes that can be framed within onto-epistemic oriented cinema; I appraise how the films and the archive have repercussions on and off screen. A key objective of this dissertation is to broaden the field of film studies to include Indigenous cinema, not as an addendum to film studies, but as integral to film history and film culture. I conclude by examining how VNA, by means of its creation of a growing, alternative filmic corpus, is working to invigorate futures for Indigenous peoples and for cinema studies.

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Extrapolaciones: etica literaria y discurso critico en Roberto Bola?o, Ricardo Piglia y Fernando Vallejo. Extrapolations: literary ethics and critical discourse in Roberto Bola?o, Ricardo Piglia and Fernando Vallejo (2020)

The research examines the conditions of production and the function of critical discourse, (mainly texts that circulate in parallel to the production of fiction, such as interviews, essays, speeches, or newspaper articles) elaborated by Latin American writers since the mid-20th Century. The objective is understand the writer's strategies of positioning and the place that this discourse has in his literary project. For this purpose, the research proposes the concept of literary ethics to analyze the creative relationship of the writer with society and the literary field. Since a considerable part of critical discourse circulates in the mass media, the construction of the writer's public figure has also been problematized under the notion of personification taking into account the possible relations of ambiguity that occur when there is an identification between a fictional character and the personification.To study this processes, Roberto Bolaño, Ricardo Piglia and Fernando Vallejo have been chosen as representative writers of the literary system, considering legitimacy, extensive discursive production, deliberate construction of the personification/character relationship and contemporaneity, as relevant elements. The research concludes that literary ethics allows us to analyze the tension between an historical moment and the creative production in a writer's career and that this process shapes critical discourse, whose main function is to establish and maintain a literary position, through canonical reorganization, the alteration of modes of reading or social criticism. Lastly, it is established that personification, critical discourse and works of fiction can be linked through ambiguity in the public reception of the writer's image.

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Mangrove poetics: writing community in Hispanic Caribbean diasporas (2020)

How do writers of Hispanic Caribbean diasporas write community in a transborder era? This dissertation focuses on contemporary literature of the Cuban and Dominican diasporas that challenges notions of belonging as tied to a specific place, nationality, culture, or social group. Examining works by Severo Sarduy, Achy Obejas, Loída Maritza Pérez, and Junot Díaz, this project argues that such writing redefines the parameters of coexistence to imagine solidarities that escape categorization. Rather than affirming identities limited to a Cuban, Dominican, or North American body politic, these texts invite the reader to contemplate commonalities that privilege negotiation over identity politics. As characters participate in intercontaminations of socio-cultural praxes, their connections form neither bounded nor undifferentiated collectivities but open rhizomes of relation with the world. They thus preclude any attempt to distinguish a singular race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, or sexuality as the basis of their solidarity. This discussion of writing that reconsiders the performance of community takes shape in the pairing of Édouard Glissant’s concept of Relation and Giorgio Agamben’s community theory. These thinkers’ notions of human interaction across boundaries provide a framework for understanding how fiction problematizes discourses of exclusion and inclusion with a poetics of inessential sociality. Contributing to the dialogue on belonging in the literature of Hispanic Caribbean diasporas, this study opens space for research into narratives of unrepresentable communities and their dissonant potentialities.

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Memories of sounds: radio as sound representation among the Latin American exiled diaspora in the Canadian west coast (2020)

The 1970s and 1980s were decades of turmoil as political violence spread through different parts of Latin America in the context of the Cold War. Exiles from the Southern Cone made their way to the Canadian west coast, followed soon by Central American refugees. During this time, the emergent Pan-Latin American diaspora and local alternative media activists produce the radio program América Latina al Día [Latin America Today] or ALAD as a tool with which to create a sonorous space for discourse and praxis. Since its creation, the radio show has been bilingual, run by volunteers and has been on air for more than forty years from the Vancouver Radio Cooperative studios. This dissertation examines closely why and how different waves of Latin American exiles arriving in Vancouver in the last third of the 20th Century made use of bilingual radio. Through an oral narrative approach, this case study maps the radio experience as an everyday practice in the life of 10 former ALAD radio collective members during the 1980s. The author also weaves her own experience(s) as media activist, radio producer and exile. The study’s interdisciplinary focus provides rich insights in four broad themes that emerged from the oral interviews: 1) radio as a social and connective medium and its impact on the lives of the participants, 2) radio seen as a new kind of Latin American public plaza, 3) the emotional and physical challenges brought into the lives of the interviewees due to their participation in the radio collective, and 4) the process of producing ALAD as a practice in motion. This case study sheds light into the ways exiles recreate communication media to maintain a link with their home countries, while rebuilding their political identity and re-creating trans diasporic communities. ALAD is a unique example of a communication practice in motion (Rodriguez, 2001) and constitutes an exercise of cultural agency, not only for exiles and migrants from Latin America, but also for local activists who share the utopian conviction that alternative media can be a tool for social transformation.

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Tres escrituras del yo: aproximaciones a las narrativas de Margarita Garcia Robayo, PowerPaola y Andres Felipe Solano (2019)

This study establishes how three Colombian writers, Margarita García Robayo (1980), PowerPaola (1977), and Andrés Felipe Solano (1977), express their personal and literary experience through life writing. The autofiction Lo que no aprendí (2014), the autobiographical graphic narration Virus Tropical (2011), and the literary diary Corea: apuntes desde la cuerda floja (2016), are different types of life-writing which fill the mobile stage created by the “biographical space” (Leonor Arfuch). Even tough it is possible to see these life-writing texts like primary or simple discursive genres (Mijail Bajtin), from the perspective of this study these works by García Robayo, Solano and PowerPaola are read as secondary (complex, as Bajtin mentioned) texts. This research points out how these works occur in a more elaborated condition of communication, rework diverse primary discourses and transform themselves into secondary texts. These writings, therefore, pass from simple situations of everyday life to become artistic events.The first-person narrator, character who is witness and participant of every single experience, weaves the life writings analyzed here. Nevertheless, this singular perspective does not mean that these writings have a solipsistic intention. This study reflects how these works are linked to the Colombian context and culture, indicates the way that the authors critique and think over Colombian society and their vision about what to expect in the future for the South American country facing the twenty-first century.Finally, these life-writings develop not only the identity of the subject, but also weave the “author’s fiction” (Julio Premat) inside their narratives. This investigation determines how Margarita García Robayo, PowerPaola, and Andrés Felipe Solano create their own image as authors inside their works. The purpose is to identify why these Colombian writers build their image in a particular way and determine tools for researchers in the creative writing process.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Subverting spectacular binaries: an analysis of diasporic Venezuelan audiovisual productions (2022)

Recent artistic productions by Venezuelan diaspora members showcase engaging interpretations of their perceived sociocultural rupture with their place of origin. More specifically, audiovisual projects by three Venezuelan musicians, punk band La Vida Bohème, Viniloversus, and Arca, include attempts to represent their experiences as diasporic subjects. As individuals they create their understanding of historical and cultural elements. Whether it is La Vida Bohème’s direct engagement with historical moments such as Venezuelan Black Friday in “Viernes negro / Helena” (2013) or as merely borrowing cultural artifacts such as in Arca’s María Lionza statue in “Prada/Rakata” (2021), their music videos highlight interpretations of their cultural repertoire. Rather than attempting to hide elements of their cultural milieu under totalizing narratives —such as populist discourse, or spectacular consumption— their productions become a heterogenous mélange. The two driving totalizing narratives analyzed in this thesis are Uslar Pietri’s “Sembrar El Petróleo” (1936) and the Spectacle according to Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967). Moreover, the ideals presented by these two hegemonic discourses are challenged through the music videos’s emphasis on the heterogeneity found within individuals’s definition of their selves. Thus, the objective set out for this thesis is the exploration of the construction of a diasporic self through analyses of a selection of cultural products within the Venezuelan diaspora. I argue that this is precisely where a potential alternative to the spectacular system can be found. Rather than idealizing an illusory “whole” based on spectacular consumption, cultural pieces are able to represent and highlight fragmented aspects necessary for the creation of the subjects’s self to challenge the isolation that the Spectacle is founded upon. The emphasis on the fragmentary aspects of the formation of diasporic selves found in these audiovisual representations promotes the potential for subverting spectacular binaries.

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Violencia y destruccion ecologica en tres recientes narrativas graficas colombianas (2017)

The recent Colombian comics and graphic novels Benkoz renace by Jean Paul Zapata, Los guerreros de Pachamama by Tairon Ernesto Cutiva Amaya, and Mohán: el mito by Inu Waters address themes of violence (especially forced displacement) and ecological destruction related to the Colombian armed conflict. These works are part of a recent surge in comic book production that Suárez and Uribe-Jongbloed have pointed out. With an ecocritical approach, the first chapter examines the relationship between physical and symbolic violence and ecological destruction in these works related to the Colombian armed conflict which continues after more than 52 years despite the recent peace treaty with the FARC guerrilla (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces). While paramilitary groups, guerillas, and economic interests are represented as victimizers of “nature” (or the non-human world) and minorities (campesinos, Afro-Colombians, and indigenous people), in Los guerreros de Pachamama, “nature” is personified and seeks revenge against these victimizing forces. The second chapter explores the use of mythical elements in the narratives with respect to history, emphasizing how they highlight the repetition of violence and ecological destruction in different historical periods while also recognizing their decolonial potential. Finally, with theoretical reference to Val Plumwood and Arturo Escobar, the last chapter explores “hybrid characters” that combine human and non-human aspects in these narratives that work to present the latter as subjects and agents. I argue that these characters break with the Western dualism between humanity and nature, encouraging new ways of understanding humanity’s relationship with the planet. I conclude that the works examined in this thesis portray the violence of the Colombian armed conflict in a way that recognizes its effects not only on human beings but also on the non-human world. Through mythical elements, it is viewed as a repetition and an intensification of the patterns of the past. Hybrid characters contribute to an understanding of humanity and nature not as separate and hierarchically organized categories but as interdependent worlds that are both endowed with agency.

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La hibridez generica en dos obras de Manlio Argueta Un dia en la vida (1980) y Cuzcatlan donde bate la mar del sur (1986) (2015)

The primary objective of this project is to problematize the literary genres used by the Salvadorian author Manlio Argueta (El Salvador, 1935) in two of his texts. The primary texts used are Un día en la vida (1980) and Cuzcatlán donde bate la mar del sur (1986). In both these works the historical, social, political and cultural experiences of El Salvador are novelized through the voice of testimony. Through a review of the testimonial theory and an analysis of the text we observe that these life narratives experience a hybridization of genres, because through an aesthetic and poetic language the author merges both a literary genre the novel and a genre with a social commitment the testimonio. Through this fusion the author is not only able to expose his own life experience but he is also able to give voice to the voiceless, and create a more impactful narrative.

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Longing for Dissonance: The Coming Community in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Diaz (2015)

This thesis investigates Junot Díaz’s portrayal of the Dominican diaspora in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) to propose that Junot Díaz’s understanding of belonging approaches Giorgio Agamben’s concept of community as a being together of individuals in an inessential solidarity. The novel presents the marginalized Others of the Dominican diaspora as individuals whose longing for a sense of community problematizes the notion of bounded physical and temporal loci. The characters are never only of one nation or one culture, neither can they be identified as representing a singular race, class, religion, gender, or sexuality. Rather, they occupy multiple realities across contingent temporal registers so that errancy, mutability, and ambivalence characterize their transcultural experience of the quotidian. This being in flux opens liminal spaces from which they can grasp potentiality to refigure the past and interrupt the performance of the present for cultural renovation. Through the lens of Oswald de Andrade’s cultural anthropophagy and postcolonial theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Édouard Glissant and Antonio Benítez-Rojo, this thesis discusses the ways in which Díaz’s text engages readers to re-examine normative paradigms of belonging to imagine sustainable commonalities that do not evince an essence.

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Mala onda (1991) de Alberto Fuguet como una herramienta de desfamiliarizacion en la sociedad de consumo contemporanea (2015)

The primary object of analysis of this thesis is the novel Mala onda (1991) by the Chilean writer Alberto Fuguet (Chile, 1964). The hypothesis specifically states that this text can be interpreted as a tool that facilitates defamiliarization (in the terms proposed by Viktor Shlovsky in his essay Art as Technique, published in 1916) on readers who are part of contemporary consumer society. Both in terms of content (strongly on this point, because this is where the summit defamiliarization in the novel moment occurs: the moment when the main character runs away abruptly from home) as in a formal level (form acts as a adjuvant to fulfill the potential of defamiliarization that the novel has), Mala onda is presented as a text that can generate the alleged breach of perception that has fallen into the habitual. In other words, an effect of strangeness upon the one who lives accustomed to the consumer society, who does not stop to reflect on it. Thus, both in terms of content and formal level, Mala onda ends up setting a narrative formula -form and content conjugated to produce defamiliarization- that could be interpreted as an artistic tool that facilitates the defamiliarization or estrangement on the reader, who is imbued within the current consumer society. El objeto primario de análisis de esta tesis es la novela Mala Onda (1991) del escritorchileno Alberto Fuguet (Chile, 1964). La hipótesis, concretamente, plantea que este textopuede interpretarse como una herramienta que facilita la desfamiliarización (en los términosque propone Viktor Shlovsky en su ensayo Art as Technique, publicado en 1916) en loslectores que son parte de la sociedad de consumo contemporánea. Tanto a nivel de contenido(enfáticamente en este punto, pues es aquí donde se produce el momento cumbre de la desfamiliarización en la novela: el momento en el que el personaje central huyeabruptamente de su hogar), como a nivel formal (la forma actúa como un coadyuvante detodo el potencial de desfamiliarización que tiene la novela), Mala onda se presenta como untexto que puede generar el pretendido rompimiento de la percepción que ha caído en lahabitualidad, es decir, producir un efecto de extrañeza en aquel que vive habituado a lasociedad de consumo, que no se detiene a reflexionar en ella. Así, pues, tanto a nivel decontenido como a nivel formal Mala onda termina por configurar una fórmula narrativa –contenido y forma conjugados para, finalmente, desfamiliarizar– que puede considerarse unaherramienta artística que facilita la desfamiliarización o el extrañamiento en el lector que estáimbuido dentro de la sociedad de consumo actual.

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