Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Oswaldo Zavala

Committee Members

Silvia Dapia

Sarah Pollack

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | Film and Media Studies | Latin American Languages and Societies | Modern Languages | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature


Latin America, inequality, culture, myth, slum, literature


This dissertation deconstructs the myths on the barrios populares (slums) in Latin America during the neoliberal era, shedding light on cultural producers from these communities who offer alternative narratives challenging the dominant narratives. These pervasive myths have shaped urban perceptions, depicting these neighborhoods as hotbeds of crime, violence, drug trade, ignorance, and illness. Ironically, these myths have been created from outside these communities by a cultural apparatus that has historically benefited from their segregation, resulting in a form of non-citizenship (Étienne Balibar). These non-citizens have fewer rights than their counterparts and their lives are afforded less recognition (Judith Butler) compared to other members of society. These myths both dehumanize and alienate the very citizens who, paradoxically, bear the brunt of the economic policies enacted in recent decades (Loïc Wacquant). Through a regional and comparative analysis of the myth of the Villa in Argentina, the myth of the Favela, and the myth of the Colonia popular in northern Mexico, we deepen into the conceptual architecture and the role of the cultural apparatus in Latin America, that separate citizens who have the same rights and live under the same rules.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Tuesday, September 30, 2025

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