Other by design : constructions of otherness and recognition of the self as other in Latino diasporic fiction in the United States.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Letters


This study examines the Latino Other in literature through a synecdochic representation of Latino diasporic fiction, using four essential threads. The works analyzed are: The Long Night of White Chickens, by Francisco Goldman; The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henríquez; and In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, by Ana Menéndez. The four threads are the recognition of the self as Other, the exoticization of the Latino Other, the commodification of culture through tourism, and the influence of language on national and personal identity. One of this paper's major tenets is that a legacy of entitlement or privilege for White America has rooted itself in the very core of U.S. national identity and has resulted in the Othering of subordinate groups, including Latinos. This Othering surfaces in the fiction of all three writers in various ways, as seen through the examination of the four essential threads. Literature is shaped by a complex interplay of history, society, culture, and spatiality along with myriad influences over decades of time. The confluence of these forces helps to form both individual and collective identities, and to construct the paradigm of us and them, belonging and rejection. These tropes are internalized by the masses, and emerge in the texts of writers and thinkers living in any given era. This is especially true of the literature produced by the Latino diaspora in the United States. In this study I have attempted to set a literary critical paradigm that can readily be used to explore and analyze Latino diasporic literature. By using four avenues of inquiry, readers can unearth layers of historical, cultural, spatial, and sociological complexities from the text.