Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2020


In times when walls are raised and human diversity condemned, stories that present the free urban movement of marginalized characters become political. While the system excludes the brown/black newcomer bodies and restricted them to the margins, the texts analyzed here bring these bodies to the center, claiming their active role in the construction of the urban fabric. This way, Latin American and Latina authors are contesting the idea of citizenship and the right to the city of newcomer subjects by narrating the freedom of geographic and symbolic movement of often disenfranchised peoples. This dissertation analyzes the claims to urban rights of immigrant women in Esperanza’s Box of Saints (1999) by María Amparo Escandón, Dominicana (2019) by Angie Cruz, and American Street (2017) by Ibi Zoboi. It defends that these texts bring to light the stroll of brown and black women by focusing on movement and belonging instead of stagnations. Similarly, I look at Brazilian urban mobility of marginalized viii newcomer characters in the book A máquina de revelar destinos não cumpridos (2009) by Vário do Andaraí and the mockumentary A cidade é uma só (2012) by Adirley Queiros, where subjects of social class C demand inclusion in urban spaces previously reserved for elites. Using the concepts of the right to the city by David Harvey and Henri Lefebvre and the theory of pedestrian enunciation by Michel de Certeau, I argue that these texts exemplify the claim of newcomers to access and construct a just city while also discussing the characters’ breaks from symbolic oppressions. With that, I offer alternatives of how literature can serve as a tool to teach concepts and practices that go beyond the classroom, focusing on creating authentic meaning to students through community practice and, in consequence, a more inclusive geography and society for all.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree


Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Committee Member (Chair)

Miguel López

Second Committee Member

Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez

Third Committee Member

Kimberle López

Fourth Committee Member

Jessica Carey-Webb




literature; the right to the city, movement, space, teaching

Document Type