Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Michael Handelsman

Committee Members

Óscar Rivera-Rodas, Dawn Duke, Chad Black

Abstract

This dissertation examines the literary trajectory of Antonio Preciado Bedoya (1941), a major Afroecuadorian writer, poet and diplomat whose work spans more than 50 years. Although relatively unknown outside of Ecuador, this dissertation will address that lack of recognition by studying his work in the more general context of the African Diaspora. It will reflect upon Preciado’s re-definition of Ecuadorian identity in the new millennium. Preciado is a poet who portrays the Afro presence as central to the national experience of ethnic diversity and the construction of a pluricultural Ecuador. He emphasizes that Afroecuadorians be recognized as an integral component of national identity, and this all encompassing paradigm affirms the existence, subjectivity, and importance of Ecuador’s Afro descendants.

Additionally, this dissertation examines Afro-Latin American diasporic thought. It seeks to analyze the various ways in which Afro-diasporic subjects assert their identities and being in the world, particularly in Ecuador. Preciado’s poetry stresses the positive values of the black experience by concentrating on negritude. According to the poet, a spiritual awakening found in negritude and the African connection will lead to the physical liberation of Blacks. In other words, freedom for the people of African descent is predicated upon the conscious activation of one’s Africanness and ultimately, their own agency. Many of his works are rooted in the ethnic memory of past experiences which he recovers through the African tradition of the talking drums. His poems reflect his African heritage and emphasize black ethnic identity as positive. Finally, his Afro-centered worldview stresses the propagation of an ‘other’s’ sensibility, the tolerance of difference, respect for all mankind regardless of racial and ideological difference, identification with and love of nature and universality.

While Preciado’s poetry is most definitely Afro-centered, his works also address a wide-range of themes that transcend geographical and cultural borders. Therefore, his Afro-centric poetry should not be interpreted as isolationist. His poetic message reflects not only a black experience, but he has also adapted his poetry to the national needs of his country which reflect a collective experience, thus utilizing his personal trials to convey the pathos of the Ecuadorian nation.

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