Magdalena Vergara Dissertation Proposal

Magdalena Vergara will present the proposal for her dissertation “Reading the South in the North: A mixed method approach for the study of Latin American literature through educational practices in Greater Vancouver” on Wednesday, September 6th.

All are welcome to attend.

Date: Wednesday, September 6th
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Ponderosa Commons 2012 (Multipurpose Room)

Supervisory Committee: Dr. Teresa Dobson, Dr. Jan Hare and Dr. Margot Filipenko


This study seeks to explore how Latin American literature is studied and interpreted through educational practices in Greater Vancouver, and to problematize potential mechanisms of representation that emerge from these educational practices through the lenses of postcolonial theory (Andreotti, 2011; Bhabha, 1990, 1994; Bradford, 2007; Said, 1978, Spivak, 1988) and critical literacies (Janks 2000, 2010, 2013; Luke, 2012).

The lack of diversity and the limited selection of texts by Latin American authors in B.C.’s curriculum and school textbooks favours forms of representation that reinforces the logic of exoticism, in line with long-standing colonial dynamics. This mystifies Latin America and sets it apart as a magical and violent place ruled by the logic of exception where anything can happen.

To identify the main underpinning of this issue, I will use a multimethodological approach based upon Institutional Ethnography (Smith, 1987; 2005) to visualize how texts affect people’s doings, Extended Case Method (Burawoy, 1991; 1998) to shed light on the relation between global discourses and local practices, and Actor Network Theory (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010; Latour, 1996, 2005; Law, 2009) to explore how texts became actors that mediate participants’ perceptions. This led me to navigate three interrelated levels where reading and interpretative practices take place in the school system: (1) at the micro-level of readers and their reading practices in the classroom; (2) at the mezzo-level of public policies; and (3) at the macro-level of canonical global representations of Latin America.