Contested Identities in Costa Rica. Harvey-Kattou, Liz (9781802070033). Paperback.

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Costa Rica is a country known internationally for its eco-credentials, dazzling coastlines, and reputation as one of the happiest and most peaceful nations on earth. Beneath this façade, however, lies an exclusionary rhetoric of nationalism bound up in the concept of the tico, as many Costa Ricans refer to themselves. Beginning by considering the very idea of national identity and what this constitutes, this book explores the nature of the idealised tico identity, demonstrating the ways in which it has assumed a white supremacist, Central Valley-centric, patriarchal, heteronormative stance based on colonial ideals. Chapters two and three then go on to consider the literature and films produced that stand in opposition to this normative image of who or what is tico and their creation as vehicles of soft power which aim to question social norms. This book explores protest literature from the 1970s by Quince Duncan, Carmen Naranjo, and Alfonso Chase who narrate their experiences from the margins of society by virtue of their identity as Afro-Costa Rican, feminist, and homosexual authors. Cinema from the twenty-first century is then analysed to demonstrate the nuanced position chosen by national directors Esteban Ramírez, Paz Fábrega, Jurgen Ureña, and Patricia Velásquez to challenge the dominant nation-image as they reinscribe youth culture, a female consciousness, trans identity, and Afro-Costa Rica onto the fabric of the nation.

‘Throughout the book, Harvey-Kattou offers clear, concise readings on film and literature to articulate new models of Costa Rican belonging and national identity.’
Stephanie M. Pridgeon, Bulletin of Spanish Studies

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