Cyborgs, Sexuality, and the Undead
153 pages

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153 pages

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Writers in Brazil and Mexico discovered early on that speculative fiction provides an ideal platform for addressing the complex issues of modernity, yet the study of speculative fictions rarely strays from the United States and England. Cyborgs, Sexuality, and the Undead expands the traditional purview of speculative fiction in all its incarnations (science fiction, fantasy, horror) beyond the traditional Anglo-American context to focus on work produced in Mexico and Brazil across a historical overview from 1870 to the present. The book portrays the effects—and ravages—of modernity in these two nations, addressing its technological, cultural, and social consequences and their implications for the human body.

In Cyborgs, Sexuality, and the Undead, M. Elizabeth Ginway examines all these issues from a number of theoretical perspectives, most importantly through the lens of Bolívar Echeverría’s “baroque ethos,” which emphasizes the strategies that subaltern populations may adopt in order to survive and prosper in the face of massive historical and structural disadvantages. Foucault’s concept of biopolitics is developed in discussion with Roberto Esposito’s concept of immunity and Giorgio Agamben’s distinction between “political life” and “bare life.”

This book will be of interest to scholars of speculative fiction, as well as Mexicanists and Brazilianists in history, literary studies, and critical theory.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 décembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826501196
Langue English

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Cyborgs, Sexuality, and the Undead
The Body in Mexican and Brazilian Speculative Fiction
Nashville, Tennessee
© 2020 by Vanderbilt University Press
Nashville, Tennessee 37235
All rights reserved
First printing 2020
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Ginway, M. Elizabeth, author.
Title: Cyborgs, sexuality, and the undead : the body in Mexican and Brazilian speculative fiction / M. Elizabeth Ginway.
Description: Nashville : Vanderbilt University Press, [2020] | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2020027459 (print) | LCCN 2020027460 (ebook) | ISBN 9780826501172 (paperback ; acid-free paper) | ISBN 9780826501189 (hardcover ; acid-free paper) | ISBN 9780826501196 (epub) | ISBN 9780826501202 (pdf)
Subjects: LCSH: Speculative fiction, Mexican—History and criticism. | Speculative fiction, Brazilian—History and criticism. | Human body in literature. | Monsters in literature. | Gender identity in literature. | Comparative literature—Brazilian and Mexican. | Comparative literature—Mexican and Brazilian.
Classification: LCC PQ7207.S68 G56 2020 (print) | LCC PQ7207.S68 (ebook) | DDC 863/.087609972—dc23
LC record available at
LC ebook record available at
In memory of my sister, Jennifer Whitlock Ginway Mistrano (1967–2014)
INTRODUCTION: Rereading the Body in the Speculative Fiction of Mexico and Brazil
1. Gendered Cyborgs: Mechanical, Industrial, and Digital
2. The Baroque Ethos, Antropofagia , and Queer Sexualities
3. Trauma Zombies, Consumer Zombies, and Political Zombies
4. Vampires: Immunity and Resistance
Writing a book at age sixty is quite different from writing one at age forty, mostly because of the shift in perspective brought about by time and its effects on mind, body, and spirit. I would like to give thanks to those who have helped me along the way. I began to venture down the road of Spanish American science fiction thanks to Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina Gavilán, whose 2003 Cosmos Latinos , an anthology of Latin American and Spanish texts in English, inspired me to teach my first class on Latin American SF in English. I ventured further, attending two key Spanish American science fiction symposia during 2010 and 2011. The first was in Santiago, Chile, where l heard talks by J. Andrew Brown, Edmundo Paz Soldán, Alberto Fuguet, Jorge Baradit, and Mike Wilson. The second was held in Tijuana, Mexico, where I had the privilege of meeting Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz and speaking at length with Pepe Rojo, Deyanira Torres, Bernardo Fernández (Bef), Horacio Porcayo, Bruce Sterling, Chris Brown, and Miguel Ángel Fernández Delgado (MAF). Later, MAF—who was extraordinarily generous with his time and knowledge—arranged for me to meet with SF fans in Mexico City, and Bef invited me to a gathering of several writers, including José Luis Zárate, Karen Chacek, Edgar Omar Avilés, Ricardo Guzmán Wolffer, J. M. Rodolfo, and Alberto Chimal. Since 2010, as part of the UF study abroad program, I have traveled to Brazil five times, enabling me to maintain my contacts with science fiction writers Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro and Roberto de Sousa Causo. I also wish to recognize the work of Marcello Simão Branco and César Silva and their publication Anuário brasileiro de literatura fantástica , which also allowed me to keep a finger on the pulse of Brazilian science fiction. I would also like to thank Alfredo Suppia for inviting me to UNICAMP in 2016 and for being a supportive colleague during his Fulbright here at the University of Florida 2019–2020. During this year of pandemic, I extend thanks to Brazilian conference organizers Ana Rüsche and Naiara Araújo for inviting me to speak at their virtual events, where I met Bruno Anselmi Matangrano and Alexander Meireles da Silva, albeit virtually.
Closer to home, many colleagues and communities have supported my work, beginning with science fiction scholars Rachel Haywood Ferreira and J. Andrew Brown. Wider communities include frequent attendees of the International Conference on the Fantastic and the Arts, including Dale Knickerbocker, Juan Carlos Toledano, Suparno Banerjee, Pawel Frelik, and Amy Ransom, as well as the editors of Science Fiction Studies —Veronica Hollinger, Joan Gordon, and Art Evans. I also wish to thank Extrapolation editor and organizer of the Eaton Conference Sherryl Vint for her support. At the University of Florida, Jennifer Rea and Terry Harpold have been especially supportive of international SF events. I thank Emily Hind, my colleague in Spanish and Portuguese Studies, for putting me into contact with Carmen Boullosa, Karen Chacek, and Cristina de la Garza. I also wish to thank Emanuelle Oliveira, David Dalton, Giovanna Rivero, James Krause, and Christopher Lewis for their interest in science fiction and their collaborations, both past and future.
I am grateful to the anonymous readers and the editors of Vanderbilt University Press for their suggestions and dedication to improving the manuscript and getting it into readable form. I also recognize the University of Florida, whose sabbatical program, together with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Scholarship Enhancement grants, offered release time and financial support. I also am grateful for the support of my chair, Gillian Lord. I also acknowledge, with thanks, the subvention grant I received from the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment). I thank my aunt Jane Long and her daughter Marti as well as my son Matt McAllen for their support and curiosity about this book. Finally, I am especially thankful for the unwavering support and patience of my husband, David Pharies, who saw me through the ups and downs of this lengthy process, reading many drafts and helping me see the project through to the end.
Portions of Chapter 2 appear in “Resistant Female Cyborgs in Brazil,” in “Ibero-American Homage to Mary Shelley,” special issue, Alambique: Revista académica de ciencia ficción y fantasía 7, no. 1 (2020): Article 5. Portions of Chapter 3 were published in “Transgendering in Brazilian Speculative Fiction from Machado de Assis to the Present,” Luso-Brazilian Review 47, no. 1 (2010): 40–60, and part of Chapter 4 appears in “Eating the Past: Proto-Zombies in Brazilian Fiction 1900–1955,” in “The Transatlantic Unidead: Zombies in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures,” ed. David Dalton and Sara Anne Potter, special issue, Alambique: Revista académica de ciencia ficción y fantasía 6, no. 1 (2018): Article 7. Thanks to the editors of the journals for permission to reprint the portions of the articles cited above.
Rereading the Body in the Speculative Fiction of Mexico and Brazil
This study builds on my 2004 monograph Brazilian Science Fiction: Cultural Myths and Nationhood in the Land of the Future . Specifically, it focuses on a single theme—the body—rather than on a set of icons or subgenres of science fiction. It extends the generic perspective beyond science fiction to the more general category of speculative fiction, which includes fantasy and horror, and it broadens the literary base to include works originating in Mexico as well as Brazil.
The Body in Mexico and Brazil
While the emphasis on science in the Anglo-American science fiction tradition often accentuates the generalized Western binary between mind and body, Latin American science fiction often appears to find a more nuanced middle ground, where cultural traditions resist the idea of a mind without a body. This explains why the body, especially in its ambiguous state, is the ideal locus for the study of speculative fiction in Mexico and Brazil. The cyborg exists as an amalgam of the cybernetic or mechanical and the organic or biological, relating to the social body in terms of class and race. Nontraditional sexualities represent a state between or beyond the genders, thus serving as an exemplary vehicle for examining gender and sexuality in the broadest sense. Zombies and vampires are the ultimate expression of an intermediary state, because as the living dead and the undead they embody the paradox of a present haunted by an embodied past.
The tales of embodiment presented here spark the imagination and allow readers to gain insight into these two complex cultures—Mexican and Brazilian—and their historic struggles. In these two late-modernizing societies, a diachronic, interpretive overview of the treatment of the body in the counternarratives of speculative fiction is an effective way to understand the evolution of and, more especially, the resistance to modernization in these societies.
My thesis is that bodily transformation is used in these stories to show human resilience in the face of national and global inequalities arising from a past often characterized by authoritarian rule. Despite the official rhetoric of mestizaje/mestiçagem , there is a lurking sense that certain bodies continue to be identified as “impolitic,” as targets of “thanatopolitics” or “necropolitics,” that is, the state’s algorithm of race and power used to “regulate the distribution of death” (Mbembe 17). 1

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