Urban Borderlands: African Writers in Precarious Spain, 1985-2008


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Romance Studies


“Urban Borderlands” examines Spain’s dependency on undocumented African labor in the quest to become a developed, European nation. Via literature, this dissertation charts Spain’s transformation from a longstanding sending country for migrant labor into a cosmopolitan destination for workers the world over following the promulgation of its first immigration law in 1985. Drawing on both textual analysis and one-on-one interviews, it constructs a conversation among a group of African-born writers who publish for a Spanish audience. Through their collective storytelling, this project reframes the concept of bordering as practices of racialization and labor market segmentation that exert serious controls over the day-to-day of migrant life within Spanish national bounds. To this end, it considers the work of these writers as a unique form of political intervention, aimed at revealing the inherent instability of Spain’s economy—well before the Great Recession of 2008.