Gender, Waste, and the Uncanny Home in Única mirando al mar

  • Jennifer Abercrombie Foster University of Kansas
Keywords Latin American Cultural Studies, Literature, Criticism
Keywords Latin American Cultural Studies, Literature, Criticism


In the novel Única mirando al mar (1993) by Costa Rican author Fernando Contreras Castro, a community of trash pickers make a new life for themselves within an overflowing garbage dump. I employ psychoanalytic categories to address how Contreras’s protagonists accept the normalization of disaster and decay within a neoliberal, post-revolutionary context. I complicate the notion of disenchanted normalcy (perpetuated by neoliberal policies) by exploring gender’s role within abject spaces. Within an uncanny domestic setting, ruin and abjection provide a theoretical space in which readers may see the social-constructedness of gendered roles and spheres of influence.

Author Biography

Jennifer Abercrombie Foster, University of Kansas

Jennifer Abercrombie Foster completed her Ph.D. in Spanish with a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas in 2016. She specializes in Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies, with a focus on gender, sexuality, and women’s social movements in Central America and the Caribbean. In her dissertation, "(Un)Natural Pairings: Uncanny, Marvelous, Fantastical, and Cyborgian Encounters in Contemporary Central American and Caribbean Literature,” Foster explores how writers employ fantastic and eerie stories to provide a forum in which artists may generate, imagine, and share creative spaces to rethink traditional gender and sexual ideologies in Central American and Caribbean society.

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