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Galápagos: Imaginarios de la evolución textual en las islas encantadas

Esteban Mayorga

This book, written in Spanish, takes a literary and cultural studies model to explain the textual representation of the Galapagos islands since their discovery until present day. The main argument suggests that the depiction of this crucial space for modernity, given the rhetoric of travel and fiction writers, transforms the insular area in order to conceive alternate forms of the nation-building project in Latin America. As a result of colonial enterprises, being scientific excursions, journalistic pieces or expeditions, travel writings of the Galápagos condition the formation of the state and its national imagery through the symbolic capital of the archipelago and the desire of Latin American intellectuals to belong to a cosmopolitan territory.

The insular space functions as an empty signifier where travelers are able to communicate their own signified upon narrating the experiences of their journeys. This phenomenon creates a conceptual and political division between the identity of the isles and the nation of Ecuador. The narrative ambiguities created a rupture leading to fundamental variations in the manner in which local inhabitants and foreign entities interpret the insular province nowadays, as the literature of the Galápagos reflects a scale of friction and migratory tendencies into the islands, as well as global interests that prevail in the appropriation of the space.


"This book addresses the different ways the Galapagos archipelago has been represented or misrepresented, used and misused in travel narratives throughout history. The author argues quite convincingly that, whether the authors were at the service of empires (Spanish, British, etc.) or were Ecuadorian nationals, their representations of the Galapagos were always mediated by specific interests that seldom took into account the islands or the islanders themselves. The study covers an impressive number of texts produced over four centuries in different languages and written in different traditions and genres (memoirs, history, fiction). It is a well thought out and structured book of superb scholarship that gives new life to the field of Latin American Cultural Studies."

—Veronica Salles-Reese, Georgetown University


Esteban Mayorga is on the faculty of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Niagara University, and Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. He received his PhD in Hispanic Studies from Boston College. His areas of research include the Latin American novel, travel writing, contemporary transatlantic fiction, and comparative literature. He has written a variety of fiction works, including the novels Moscow, Idaho (2015) and Faribole (2018). Every other year he teaches a course on Latin American travel literature and takes students to the Galápagos Islands and the jungle of Ecuador.

PSRL 77. Paper. $45.00. e-Book available. 


Page last updated on 26 June 2021.

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