The Body in Pieces: Representations of Organ Trafficking in the Literatures and Film of the Americas

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This dissertation explores the use of the trope of organ trafficking to critique neoliberal globalization in the Americas. Each chapter addresses a different genre and analyzes texts articulated in response to conditions grounded in different locations. The texts studied include print media from Guatemala and Brazil, Mexican popular film and detective fiction from the U.S. (Tony Chiu's Positive Match and Linda Howard's Cry No More) and Mexico (Miriam Laurini's Morena en rojo, Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz's Loverboy, and Paco Ignacio Taibo II's La bicicleta de Leonardo). Comparative analyses also address Francisco Goldman's The Long Night of White Chickens, Karen Tei Yamashita's Tropic of Orange, and Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead.

These analyses are linked by their critique of neoliberal globalization and their representation of the human body's commodification. Together, they outline the contradictions of a mobility-dependent regime and establish the inescapable scope of economic changes that alter the relationship between the nation-state and its inhabitants. Neoliberalism also causes changes in the representation of the body. Bodies are represented outside the social structures and institutions that previously gave them meaning. The body's economic value replaces socially ascribed identities. Representations of the commodified body in these texts selectively erase gender and race. This dissertation also explores the construction of a new set of identities grounded in the body. These competing identities of medical and corporeal citizenship demonstrate the problems of establishing identities in market-driven terms of production and consumption.
This dissertation also engages in a investigation of the relation of literary genre to content. As my discussion of popular culture demonstrates, generic form partially constrains or shapes the content of these works. In contrast, when literary works are positioned outside of genre constraints, the scope of the meanings attributed to organ trafficking expands, accompanied by formal innovations. My dissertation produces an interrogation of American cultural spaces--understood in the broadest sense--that acknowledges the work of both spatial and cultural forces in the construction of this hemispheric imaginary.