Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Víctor Figueroa


Abstract: This work focuses on four novels: The Americano (1963) by Enrique G. Matta, América’s Dream (1996) by Esmeralda Santiago, Caramelo or Puro Cuento: A novel (2002) by Sandra Cisneros, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Díaz. These novels share a history of U.S. interventionism, which has not only affected the inhabitants of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, still a colony of the U.S., but also the lives of their population that now reside in the U.S. mainland. As Latino Studies Scholar Juan Flores has explained, many Latinos/as in the U.S. “migrated here for both political and economic reasons, in part because of the U.S. intervention in their homelands” (Flores 199). This interventionism operated on the basis of coloniality of power. This expression, created by Peruvian sociologist Anibal Quijano, refers to the way power operates in places where essentialist colonial categories of class and race prevail. Walter Mignolo links Quijano’s notion of coloniality to global socio-historical developments since the conquest of the Americas, so that one can talk of a modern/colonial world system. In the same manner, Argentinean scholar Enrique Dussel criticizes the Eurocentric category of “modernity” with its emphasis on only one intra-European line of historical development and he calls for a “transmodern project”; the effort to include the positions and perspectives of those on the periphery who were erased from Eurocentric accounts. These peripheral accounts are portrayed in these novels through their re-telling of history, their notions of spirituality, their view of their colonizer, the search for parity, the role of violence, and the use of English and Spanish simultaneously in bilingual writing, while establishing a link between the history of U.S. interventionism and the lives of Latino/as in the U.S.