The Depths of the Megacity. Recent Literary Imaginaries of the Underground in Mexico City
This project proposes to make a fundamental contribution to contemporary literary and urban studies by focusing on the literary representation of Mexico City’s underground spaces. In spite of its remarkable presence in recent Latin American literature, this topic is completely new as a scholarly subject. In narrative texts that take place in Mexico City, subterranean spaces (metro, tunnels, sewers, etc.) frequently appear and imply a reflection on the city. This proposal examines the role they play in the “urban imaginaries” —socially shared symbolic images of the city— that are used in literary texts. In particular, I will analyze the literary function of the underground as the place where concerns about urban expansion are symbolically expressed through imaginations of the underworld and/or modernization. I take 1985, the date of the strongest earthquake in the history of the city, as a starting point: this is when the problems of urban growth were revealed, literally “from below”, and started to be perceived as such in critical discourse. By analysing a broad corpus of novels, short stories and crónicas (literary-journalistic texts) through a geocritical perspective, I aim to provide the first account of the function of the underground in contemporary literary representations of Mexico City. The theoretical contribution of the project resides in its ‘vertical’ perspective on urban growth, challenging the predominantly ‘horizontal’ bias in current debates.