chapter  2
27 Pages

Reworking the ‘Lettered City’: The Resistant Reterritorialisation of Urban Place

This chapter follows on from the thread of the mapping out of identity along spatial lines that we analysed in the previous chapter, to now focus on one particular geographical-conceptual space: that of the city. Here, we explore one of the most influential discourses to emerge from Latin American studies in the second half of the twentieth century-that of the ‘lettered city’—and analyse how this discourse is transmuted and challenged by contemporary online works. The original model of the ‘lettered city’ was developed by Ángel Rama in his hugely influential homonymous book, La ciudad letrada (1984), in which he argued that writing was fundamental to the formation of Latin American societies, and that cities were central in the control and diffusion of the power associated with it. Power structures within the city thus allied the elites with written discourse, meaning that the discourses that emanate from cities were the preserve of the colonial (and, later, creole) elite; these discourses must, perforce, function to the exclusion of nonelites (women, indigenous populations, lower classes and so forth).