Date of Degree

9-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures

Advisor

José del Valle

Committee Members

Palmar Álvarez Blanco

Silvia Dapia

Fernando Degiovanni

Subject Categories

Spanish Literature

Keywords

Cultural Apocalypse, Political Imagination, Crisis, Contemporary Spain

Abstract

This dissertation studies the current Spanish economic, political, and social crisis and its representations through apocalyptic imaginaries. I seek to establish a fundamental political and cultural distinction between two models of these imaginaries traceable in representations of Madrid. On one hand, it looks at cultural discourses that display catastrophist projections of the present and the future, insisting on alarmistic and deterministic messages. On the other hand, it looks at other discourses that subvert this representation of the capitalist crisis as the end of the world, shifting the symbolic value of the apocalyptic imaginaries towards figurations of the end of capitalism. I argue that there is a fundamental tension between these two dissimilar recoveries of the apocalyptic cultural tradition that determines conflicting political aims regarding the social battle for the “right to the city.” The first model—most present in public discourse, the media, and mass entertainment channels—promotes a depoliticizing ideology that is functional to the reproduction of the capitalist system. These kinds of narratives lead to widespread states of collective political isolation and generalized pessimism that hinder social reactions to oppressive regulations and policies of dispossession imposed during crises. The second model—which eventually appears within social movements and countercultural production—identifies subjects’ and collectives’ political agency to imagine and rehearse new and emancipated ways of life through alternative organization of society. To make this argument, I focus my study in three different tropes: desertification, flood, and waste. These are all present in a set of objects and texts from different sources that I analyze, such as press articles, narrative fiction, song writings, and the visual arts, among others. In doing so, I deploy a theoretical framework that combines historical and contemporary conceptualizations of cultural apocalypsis from fields such as anthropology, history, cultural studies or philosophy (Koselleck, De Martino, Jameson, Fisher, among others) with critical literature about the contemporary city within capitalism (Observatorio Metropolitano, Lefebvre, Harvey, etc.). Ultimately, it is my goal to analyze the political condition of imagination and culture by establishing a systematic framework of analysis that takes into serious account structural features, material conditions of production, places of enunciation, and the differential effects in cultural and social reconfiguration of these imaginaries.

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