Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy


Hispanic Studies

Collaborative Specialization

Migration and Ethnic Relations


Felipe Q. Quintanilla

2nd Supervisor

Rafael Montano



This dissertation aims to present a compelling exploration of identity and cultural hybridity, and of the intricate tapestry of diasporic experiences. As such, it delves into the significance of Chilean Canadian literature written directly in English, with a specific focus on the works authored by female writers as part and parcel of an emerging diasporic literature. Employing a postcolonial and hemispheric lens, this research employs a multidimensional methodology embedded in cultural memory, border studies, and representational intersectionality. Within this framework, this study attempts to unravel how Chilean Canadian literature written in English might contribute to a repository of Chilean Canadian literary memories. In doing so, it traces the evolution of the concept of home––as experienced and described by various protagonists across different generations since the initial arrival of political exiles in 1973 to the present day––as well as these protagonists’ expressed sense of belonging. I contend that through these diasporic intergenerational narratives, an imaginative landscape takes shape, illuminating the intricate interplay of identity and cultural consolidation. This is an imaginary that now expands to encompass other racialized groups, notably Indigenous communities from Chile and Canada, as it continues to define and contest the contours of Canadian Latinidad. Again, by framing these literary narratives as part of the production of a multigenerational diaspora, we emphasize the connection of the Chilean Canadian community to its roots and elucidate the evolving concepts of home and belonging. Moreover, we consider how these concepts may continue to evolve across generations in the future.

Summary for Lay Audience

My investigation embarks on an exploration of Chilean Canadian literary texts written directly in English: a literature so far written exclusively by women. These texts containing narratives of migration and exile, represent renewed dimensions of diasporic and postcolonial literature within Canada.

The motivation behind proposing this topic for my dissertation is grounded in what I saw as a scholarly gap within Latina/o Canadian literary studies. This gap distinguishes, again, the more recent literary productions authored by female Chilean Canadian writers who compose directly in the English language, from the established body of Spanish-language Latina/o Canadian literature. This represents a departure from prior practices wherein Latina/o Canadian authors predominantly wrote in Spanish, occasionally supplemented with English or French translations.

Drawing from Siemerling’s recognition of Latina/o Canadian literature as a potential focus for diasporic and postcolonial studies within the Canadian literary landscape (“Canadian Literatures” 210), I proposed to examine the aforementioned emerging Chilean Canadian literary corpus through the lenses of memory studies, border studies, and representational intersectionality.

This study reveals several outcomes that align with these theoretical frameworks. The analysis suggests that Chilean Canadian literary works follow the evolution of the idea of “home,” as to how different characters across generations experience and talk about it. In doing so, Chilean Canadian literary creates a repository of memories, notably centred around the pivotal events of September 11th, 1973, and the emerging new story of “The Return Plan” as sites of memory. Employing a border studies perspective, this research asserts that English-language Chilean Canadian literature, as a “borderlands literature,” sheds light on the evolving dynamics of Latina/o hybrid cultures and identities in Canada, as well as on its own literary tradition. These are developments that involve, for instance, the intersectionality between Latina/o and Mapuche characters with Indigenous First Nations perspectives in Canada, thereby contributing to the broader process of decolonizing Canadian arts and cultures.