The Zapatista discursive war : literary subversion in Subcomandante Marcos' writings (1994-2017)
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This doctoral thesis argues that Subcomandante Marcos’ appropriations of existing textual material, whether they take the form of quotations, allusions, parodies or remixes, are key to the discursive war waged in the communiqués. Through these textual manipulations, Marcos simultaneously promotes inter-epistemic dialogues and questions colonial knowledge to favour the Zapatistas’ anti-neoliberal and decolonial political agenda. The thesis begins by contextualising the emergence of the EZLN within the history of Chiapas since the nineteenth century, providing background information on Marcos’ communiqués, and engaging with relevant scholarship. The subsequent literary analyses uncover some of the textual strategies which contribute to the Zapatistas’ transcultural communication on the one hand, and their subversive political message on the other. It argues that Marcos recuperates Jorge Luis Borges’ translation strategies and his irreverent approach towards authorship to challenge the Mexican political class and colonial cultural hierarchies through intertextual allusions to the Western literary tradition. Simultaneously, Marcos creates bridges between Maya and Western epistemological systems. To do so, he relies on certain motifs prevalent in both Maya culture and idealist philosophy. In addition to being deployed as a bridging element, idealist philosophy, alongside postmodernity, is recuperated by Marcos for its inherent scepticism, which is redirected towards the narratives supporting the Mexican government and its neoliberal policies. Moreover, the staging of cynical voices in Marcos’ writings is understood as a rhetorical device which places the Zapatistas in moral opposition to the Mexican government. Finally, it is argued that Marcos’ recent digital turn mirrors the Zapatistas’ interest for digital activism and their ambiguous appropriation of Western technology, simultaneously perceived as a site of colonial oppression and a subversive space. These findings highlight Marcos’ discursive intervention in the global cultural fabric, afforded by his deliberate displacement of specific texts and the cultural contexts they embody.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-02-20
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 20th February 2024
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