Revaluing the Dynamics of Orality in the Continental Caribbean Literature of Colombia

2011 2011

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Abstract (summary)

In this dissertation I shed light on the importance of orality as it is embedded in the cultural traditions of the Colombian Caribbean. I examine how the subaltern employ orality to maintain their cultural heritage, thereby contesting a hegemonic system forging a collective effort to become visible in the nation's identity.

I examine the different ways in which orality is manifested and produced in Colombian popular culture and literature. I explore the dynamics of "primary orality," in which orality compensates for the absence of knowledge or usage of a written alphabet, and "secondary orality," in which orality is sustained by a technological device, in this case the cassette.

In chapter one: "Orality: A Revitalizing Vehicle in Rescuing a Cultural Past," I examine the expressions of orality in the Funeral Chants of the maroon community Palenque de San Basilio. As a "primary oral" community, Palenque holds on to its cultural heritage through an oral discourse manifested in the form of chants performed during funeral rituals. These chants demonstrate how a primary oral community employs orality as a vehicle to transmit its traditions, and the determinant role they play in preserving the community's cultural heritage and identity.

In chapter two: "Technologizing Oral Literature: Approaches to David Sánchez Juliao's 'Cassette's Literature,'" I explore the cassette literature methodology and the nature of the characters used in this author's works. The early cassette literature of Sánchez Juliao (b. 1945) demonstrates how, through the utilization of technology such as the cassette, he vindicates the marginal. In a collective effort, his characters recreate their history to seek a more active role in the nation's political and social structure. I demonstrate how orality enables the interaction in the community, thus habilitating a space where spontaneous inputs of narrative create, revisit and reinvent new narratives to enhance a sense of belonging.

In chapters three and four, I examine closely "Abraham Al Humor" and "El Flecha." The first story rescues the voice of a migrant of Arab descent, dealing with his process of acculturation. This story highlights the presence of Arab immigrants and their cultural influences and contributions to the development of the Caribbean's economy, which has been overlooked in Colombia. The second story renders visible a marginalized Afro-Colombian and the vicissitudes of his survival on a day-to-day basis. It brings forth the flaws in the social infrastructure and the economic neglect that the poor endure in Colombia, and in the coastal region in general where poverty reaches its highest levels.

Indexing (details)

Latin American literature;
Black studies;
Latin American history;
0312: Latin American literature
0325: Black studies
0336: Latin American history
0358: Folklore
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Arab migrants; Black diaspora; Colombia; Continental Caribbean; Oral literature; Orality; Popular culture
Revaluing the Dynamics of Orality in the Continental Caribbean Literature of Colombia
Castillo, Marisol
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Marchant, Elizabeth
University of California, Los Angeles
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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