Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Oswaldo Zavala

Committee Members

Paul Julian Smith

Magdalena Perkowska


21st century Mexico, Journalistic Events, Truth, Historical Memory, Critical Epistemology, Mass Feminisms


This dissertation is situated within the emergence of mass feminisms as a new revolutionary force of the 21st century in Mexico. It examines the construction of a legitimate and active voice for political dialogue in four key scenarios of disagreement concerning truth and historical memory. Within this context, I examine the trajectories of three agents of struggle: actress Kate del Castillo (1972) and journalists Lydia Cacho (1963) and Regina Martínez (1963-2012), conceptualizing key events they are involved in as poetic moments of political invention. I argue that these cases exemplify an ongoing process of political legitimation for Mexican feminisms in recent Mexican history. Each of these journalistic events reformulate the archetypal dispute between victims and perpetrators for control over the narrative of truth, which ultimately leads to dissensus between the protagonist of each chapter and powerful figures in Mexican society. This research emphasizes conflict, controversy, and disagreement as symptoms of a burgeoning creative process. In addition, I focus on the metaphor of the burned effigy in the material and symbolic acts of overthrowing, renaming, or occupying that are featured in each chapter.

In Chapter 1, I analyze the semantic struggle behind the phrase "Nosotras no somos Ayotzinapa" (We are not Ayotzinapa) and the controversial contexts in which it appears. I analyze the configuration of a revolutionary voice that is alternative to institutionalized dissidences that are reinscribed in Ayotzinapa. I suggest that "Nosotras no somos Ayotzinapa" highlights a gender differential in the consideration of what is or is not state violence. In Chapter 2, I examine Kate del Castillo's public defense of a version of events that differs from that of the State and argue that her politicization represents a significant reconfiguration since, as a telenovela actress, she was not generally considered qualified to speak about politics. In Chapter 3, I examine how Lydia Cacho's "Los demonios del Edén" sparked a process of truth-telling, suggesting that her elevation to a public figure occurs simultaneously with the transformation of the State into a perpetrator. In Chapter 4, I interpret the themes of erasure and rewriting of Regina Martínez's murder as a failed silencing. Additionally, I propose that the inclusion of Regina's name in the "Glorieta de las Mujeres que Luchan" (Roundabout of Women Who Fight) in 2021 illustrates how feminisms reinterpret other struggles, such as freedom of expression, as their revolutionary force expands. These four cases exemplify this process of creating truths and subjects. Calling on perspectives such as critical epistemology, phenomenology of history, theories of art and the subject, this research deviates from the discussion of how different cultural objects reproduce or break the hegemonic narrative about violence in the country, focusing instead on studying the creative opportunity opened by these four acts of violence prior to their assimilation into historical categories.

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

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