Utopia And Commons: Enclosure And Blank Slate In The Americas

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How can utopia, as a concept and a project, have as its goal the exposure and defense of the commons while its very articulation must posit a tabula rasa to be enclosed, improved, and defended? This question lies at the heart of my own project. I investigate and critique a series of moments that mobilize the twin concepts of utopia and commons: More's original 1516 text and the conquest of the Americas that lies behind it; several agrarian and communal projects in the Americas situated at the intersection of modernity, imperialism, land, and history; postapocalyptic narratives that find their logic in the revelation of a primal utopian moment turned dystopian; and contemporary debates over the enclosure of immaterial property and labor that, in turn, posit cyberspace as a new utopia and decry new enclosures of that immaterial realm. Chapter 1 pairs two contemporary dystopian post-apocalyptic novels from Argentina- Plop and El año del desierto-with Sarmiento's classic liberal text Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism in order to open up a new critical space to consider the curious relationship between liberalism, catastrophe, and the end of the world as we know it. Chapter 2 investigates the implications of the historical coincidence of the sixteenthcentury Spanish conquest of the Americas and Thomas More's 1516 publication of Utopia. Chapter 3 continues to develop the problematic relationship between conquest, colonialism, utopia, and commons, but in the context of the Andes; specifically, by tracing a constellation of Andean utopians that runs from Inca Garcilaso through José Carlos Mariátegui, Manuel Scorza, and José María Arguedas. Chapter 4 studies the paired notions of commons and enclosure in the realm of contemporary cultural production in Latin America through a focus on literary phenomena such as plagiarism, recycling, and community activism, with particular attention paid to Cartonera publishing houses. Chapter 5 attempts to extract a theory of the practice of copyleft capable of both recognizing the entirely novel elements of contemporary cultural production (the digital horizons of intellectual property) and exposing the hidden line of past struggle that traverses the very concept of the commons.

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utopia; commom; commons; Latin America; literature; intellectual property; cultural studies


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Bosteels, Bruno

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Buck-Morss, Susan
Paz-Soldan, Jose Edmundo

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Romance Studies

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Ph. D., Romance Studies

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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