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Immigrants and Castaways: Smuggling Genres in Manuel Rivas’s La mano del emigrante

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Chapter Summary

This article explores the ways in which the Galician writer and journalist Manuel Rivas employs a technique he calls “smuggling genres” in his book La mano del emigrante, with the purpose of exploring the relationship between political oppression as the reason for migration, and the personal dimension of migration. This relationship is expressed in Rivas’s exploration of the intersection between literature and journalism, and in the tension between the “truth” and the “real.” The analysis put forward in this article addresses each of the four sections that make up the book, and analyzes how metaphors such as a tattoo on one of the character’s hands, shipwreck, and certain landmarks within the Galician landscape are developed throughout each of the sections. These metaphors emphasize the connection between political events and political oppression on the one hand, and the emotional and psychological consequences of migration on the other hand, and explore how one bears upon the other. Based on this metaphorical connection, an argument is put forward that cautions against readings of migratory identity predominantly as a positive overcoming of national identity and the construction of transcultural identities. With reference to T. Brenann’s critique of “cosmo-theory,” this article argues that such readings tend to eclipse the memory of the political repression that forced people to emigrate from European countries. Through the technique of smuggling genres and through the use of metaphors, Rivas’s text emphasizes that emigration is integral to a dissident and politicized European identity.



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