Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs


Brent Smith

Publication Date



This thesis explores the production of Latin America as a space in Hollywood films in the context of neoliberal hegemony and the shifting power relations of late capitalist globalization. Drawing on Edward Said's notion of 'imaginative geographies' I examine the way in which Hollywood representations of Latin America have constructed a spatio-temporal imaginative geography of the Americas that structures US knowledge of Latin America, arguing that these representations form part of a neocolonial discourse that legitimates neoliberal economic expansion and direct US military or political intervention in Latin America. In contemporary US film, this geographic imaginary is produced through representations of Latin America as an undeveloped and primitive, alternatively utopian or dystopian, space. In this way, these films also tend to reproduce the Enlightenment ideology of history as a progressive, ordered whole — albeit in a new postmodern form that constructs a split-temporality in which history has ended for the West while the rest of the world is conceived of as still existing in the linear, progressive time of Enlightenment historical rationality — and spatialize this linear temporality, creating the US as the telos of historical development and Latin America as existing in a state of stunted development in a pre-modern historical era.


Globalization, Neoliberalism, Latin America, Film, United States, Coloniality, Imaginative Geography

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Schroeter, Katja

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lehnen, Leila

Second Committee Member

Stone, James