Purdue University Graduate School
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Nomadic Subjects in Carmen Boullosa’s Narratives

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posted on 2020-12-07, 13:33 authored by Sun young KimSun young Kim

The purpose of this study is to analyze how a contemporary Mexican writer, Carmen Boullosa, presents different types of nomadic subjects who upset the assumed binary opposition between traditional forms of identity. In this study, I analyze different types of nomadic subjects, who transcend and trespass rigid categorization in her five narratives: Mejor desaparece (1987), Duerme (1994), Cielos de la tierra (1997), La novela perfecta (2006), and Las paredes hablan (2012). In Boullosa’s novels, nomadic subjects resist being defined as a fixed identity and instead cross borders and boundaries. The crossing happens in both physical/epistemological and realistic/imaginary ways through different subjects. Based on Rosi Braidotti’s theory of “becoming,” I argue that Boullosa’s different types of “subjects-in-transition” are presented in the images of “undutiful daughters” in the late 80’s, “nomadic and nonhuman characters” in the 90’s, and “posthuman subjects” in the new millennium. Even though Boullosa’s fictional world is enriched by the understanding Braidotti’s theory, her nomadism should be understood within Mexican socio-cultural context. I would like to define the nomadic subjects as those who travel beyond the hegemonic power of structure based on western modernism by reassessing the indigenous and mestiza’s spirit. In her first couple of novels, Boullosa introduces nomadic figures who break free from the Mexican patriarchal society represented the authoritative father. These nomadic figures are often presented as rebellious and grotesque to transgress the binary division of active/male and passive/female. In her later novels, nomadic subjects broaden their boundary and even challenge the binary division of human/cyborg or human/nonhuman. Technology quickly passes throughout human’s life, and the borderline between human and cyborg become unclear. Finally, the nomadic subject irritates the anthropocentric world by proposing a different perspective of nature and things. By only subverting the point of view centered on human, Boullosa’s narrative is able to demonstrate the surroundings and reveal untold voices from peripheral. My reading of Boullosa offers an interdisciplinary approach, paving the way for non-hierarchical relationships, and revaluating the concept of identity as multiplicitous and gender-fluid.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Languages and Cultures

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Song. No

Additional Committee Member 2

Patricia Hart

Additional Committee Member 3

Marcia Stephenson

Additional Committee Member 4

Yonsoo Kim

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