To speak of a group of authors of South American descent, born or living in the United States, is to undertake no small task in disseminating the complexity of their literary worlds in diverse historical contexts that are often unknown or unrecognized by U.S. literary scholars. Yet, if one looks more closely at the commonalities as well as the differences that unite this disparate group of writers, one should consider a shared history of colonization and immigration to and from the South American homeland and heritage to the United States. In the nineteenth century, when colonial Spain lost the last of its colonies to the South American independence movements led by criollos, various republics were created: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In the case of Portugal, Brazil emerged. The political independence that these nation-states experienced from Spain and Portugal, however, did not translate into human freedom for all citizens within the national parameters because class differences, racial division, and gender inequality continued to plague each nation state. Furthermore, in the twentieth century, many South American nations underwent civil wars due to economic disparities that resulted in internal migrations, usually from the small towns and cities in the countryside to the greater metropolis. If economic and political strife continued, disempowered groups of people emigrated to the United States, not only for better economic opportunities, but also for human survival due to political violence. As will be discussed in this chapter, military governments, many of which were supported by U.S. intervention, swarmed various nations from the 1960s through the 1990s. This legacy of colonialism and neoliberal dictatorship extends into the twenty-first century not only in these ten nations of South America, but in the diasporas of these communities, many of which are found throughout the United States as a consequence of migrations. As a result of geographic movements, be they economic migrations or political relocations from South America to the United States, people of these diasporic communities experienced various cultures and languages simultaneously. Some authors in this essay left their homeland in South America as adults, forming a new residence in the United States but longing for the familiarity of their South American culture through nostalgia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities(all)