From “Section 936” to “Junk”: Neoliberalism, Ecology, and Puerto Rican Literature

  • Kerstin OloffEmail author
Part of the New Comparisons in World Literature book series (NCWL)


Puerto Rican literature from the mid-1970s onwards has offered incisive ways to think through shifting socio-ecological realities under neoliberalism, which it arguably registered through an intensifying aesthetics of socio-ecological degradation. The chapter will draw on texts from the different periods within neoliberalism, starting with Luis Rafael Sánchez’s La guaracha del Macho Camacho (2007 [originally published in 1976])—a text that coincided with the crisis of oil-fuelled “Operation Bootstrap” and the amendment of Section 936 of the Inland Revenue Code—and ending with an analysis of Rafael Acevedo’s eco-dystopian Al otro lado del muro hay carne fresca (2014)—a novel that speaks strongly to the post-2006 crisis. Following Ayala and Bernabe, who posit that “the pulse of the world capitalist economy” has been particularly evident in Puerto Rico due to its close and subordinated relation to United States since 1898 (2009: 3), I argue that Puerto Rican literature could be seen as an often highly self-conscious example of world-literature (defined by Warwick Research Collective [WReC] as the literature of the world-system). And since the world-system is also a world-ecology (Niblett, Green Letters 16 (1): 15–30, 2012), it is possible to read these texts as not only world-literary but also critically world-ecological. The chapter seeks to read some of the aesthetic shifts—often discussed under the rubric of “postmodernism”—in relation to world-ecological change.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DurhamUK

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