In 1899, the United Fruit Company (UFCO) was officially incorporated in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning an era of ecomic, diplomatic, and military interventions in Central America. This event marked the inception of the struggle for ecomic, political, and cultural automy in Central America as well as an era of homegrown inequities, injustices, and impunities to which Central Americans have responded in creative and critical ways. This juncture also set the conditions for the creation of the Transisthmus-a material, cultural, and symbolic site of vast intersections of people, products, and narratives. Taking 1899 as her point of departure, Ana Patricia Rodriguez offers a comprehensive, comparative, and meticulously researched book covering more than one hundred years, between 1899 and 2007, of modern cultural and literary production and modern empire-building in Central America. She examines the grand narratives of (anti)imperialism, revolution, subalternity, globalization, impunity, transnational migration, and diaspora, as well as other discursive, historical, and material configurations of the region beyond its geophysical and political confines. Focusing in particular on how the material productions and symbolic tropes of cacao, coffee, indigo, bananas, canals, waste, and transmigrant labor have shaped the transisthmian cultural and literary imaginaries, Rodriguez develops new methodological approaches for studying cultural production in Central America and its diasporas. Monumental in scope and relentlessly impassioned, this work offers new critical readings of Central American narratives and contributes to the growing field of Central American studies.
ANA PATRICIA RODRIGUEZ is Associate Professor of U.S. Latino/a and Central American Literatures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, College Park.