Nayid Jesus Contreras
I completed a double major in Spanish and Latin American Studies at UBC in 2017. Currently, I’m about to complete my MA in Hispanic Studies at UBC as well and will expect to graduate in May of 2019. I have been a Spanish instructor and teaching assistant at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as part of my graduate studies formative program. Furthermore, I have been involved in promoting and producing content for the Latin American Department’s (LAST) website and social media blogs, since fall of 2015.
One of my personal passions is studying Latin American Literature with a focus on the marginal character, that is, the most vulnerable people among the population, I’ve completed my interdisciplinary double degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies at UBC. I think that the multidisciplinary emphasis of my studies have allowed me to learn about a set of complementing subjects such as Spanish literature, art history, political science, history, sociology, psychology, among others, and has also opened my curiosity for the study of minority people in literature. Especially in Latin America where discrimination, homogeneity, and exclusion are the social codes which end up being represented in its literature. I would like to research how the marginal character (e.g. indigenous people, Afro-descendants, and the LGBT community) are being represented in Latin American Literature and its social implications.
One of my passions is Hispanic Literature, and more precisely, contemporary Colombian queer literature. My current graduating thesis work has allowed me to study, research and write about the complete work of Fernando Molano Vargas: Un beso de Dick (1992); Todas mis cosas en tus bolsillos (1997), and Vista desde una acera (2012). Molano Vargas, an openly gay Colombian writer, an avid reader of the classics and contemporaries, decided to write prose and poetry texts from a personal point of view, basing them on social issues such as discrimination, living with HIV/AIDS, death, and the existential role of the writer. My thesis centers on the premise that for an author like Molano, who openly writers about homosexual issues and belongs to a marginalized group such as the LGBT, the fact that, literature allows him to escape social norms and family traditions, while also becoming its main channel for creativity and resistance toward maintaining his core values, makes of Molano a writer worthy of research. Molano understands he lives and writers in a society as oppressive, divided and violent as the Colombian one of the 80s and 90s, where most manifestations of creative expression are ignored to preserve the status quo. All these different trade marks make of Fernando Molano, and his trilogy, a magnificent example of how literature can become, for the marginalized writer, a sort of creative utopia that pushes for social transformation.
The fact that, I am very passionate about researching about works similar to those of Molano, allow me to see myself focusing my future research work as a PhD student on similar issues that, not only reflect a testimonial point of view of disadvantaged social groups, like the LGBT in Colombia and Latin America, but also would bring me closely to the academic and historical echoes contained within other current Hispanic literary works. I believe that, today, Latin America and the Hispanic world is vibrant, complex and culturally involved with the sociopolitical and the real effects of a globalized world. By focusing my research on similar literary works, I will not only include the less visible and marginalized social groups, but also will offer an alternative interpretation and focus of what it is currently being studied.
Furthermore, I aim at exploring the possibilities that current Iberian and Latin American literarily works have to offer in perhaps erasing the boundaries of genre, culture, gender, reality and aesthetics. Therefore, as an example of possible future research corpus, I am interested in studing the following literary works La virgen de los sicarios (1994) by Fernando Vallejo; Al diablo la maldita primavera (2004) by Alfonso Sánchez Baute and Locas de felicidad: Crónicas travestis y otros relatos (2009) by John Better. I will like to examine these novels, not only as a visibility issue but also as public interventions in the face of widespread silence on issues of violence and HIV/AIDS, interventions that constitute, in my opinion, a major challenge in a discourse battle against the heteronormative national discourses.
Comparatively, within contemporary Colombian literature, which is another area of interest, I find very gratifying the literary works of (which are to some extend ‘less known’ writers), Héctor Abad Faciolinche’s Traiciones de la memoria (2009); Laura Restrepo’s La novia oscura (1999), Delirio (2004) and Los divinos (2018); Alfredo Molano-Bravo’s Aguas arriba: entre la coca y el oro (2008) and Desterrados: crónicas del desarraigo (2001/2013); and Jorge Franco’s Rosario Tijeras (1999) and Paraiso Travel (2001), works which are worthy of research from a discourse analysis point of view.
Furthermore, from a comparative, cultural and Latino studies’ point of view, I would like to examine the social impact and consequences that more than five decades of internal conflict in Colombia, has left on such texts, as well as the need for such stories to be told in a post-conflict and fragmented political era.
Publications & Conference Presentations
Contreras, N. (April 2016). “Telecollaboration, to what extent is this a valuable addition to a Spanish language program?” Northwest Linguistic Conference (NWLC), University of Washington, Seattle, WA. April 24, 2016.
Contreras, N. (March 2017). “The State of Democracy in Colombia: El Catatumbo as a Case Study.” 7Th Latin America Research Group Workshop (LARG), University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. March 11, 2017.
Contreras, N. (October 2017). “LGBTQ+ Latino Communities in the U.S. and Canada: A Return to Activism to Defend Civil Liberties under Trump’s Administration.” The Graduate Student Symposium at Department at FHIS, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. October 21-22, 2017.
Contreras, N. (March and May 2018). “Exploring Starbucks’ Influence on the Small-Coffee Farmer: Nariño in Colombia.” Latin American Studies Association (LASA) in a Globalized World, Barcelona, Spain. May 23-26, 2018.
Contreras, Nayid. “Telecollaboration, to what extent is this a valuable addition to a Spanish language program?” Northwest Linguistic Conference (NWLC), University of Washington, Seattle, WA. April 24, 2016.