The Phenomenon of Self-Translation in Puerto Rican and Puerto Rican U.S. Diaspora literature written by women: The cases of Esmeralda Santiago's América's Dream (1996) and Rosario Ferré's The House on the Lagoon (1995),from a postcolonial perspective

  • Aurora Sambolin Santiago

Student thesis: Phd


This research aims to understand self-translation as a postcolonial, social, political, cultural and linguistic phenomenon and it focuses on how it communicates a hybrid transcultural identity that not only challenges the monolingual literary canons and concepts of national homogeneous identities, but also subverts to patriarchal society. Thus, I understand self-translation as a mean of empowerment and contestation.The cases under study are Puerto Rican writers Rosario Ferré and Esmeralda Santiago, and their novels The House on the Lagoon and América's Dream, written in English and translated into Spanish by the authors themselves. I believe that Rosario Ferré and Esmeralda Santiago are representative of a group of writers, artists and intellectuals who through their work originated from the island and from the U.S. Diaspora, have aimed to give voice to a Puerto Rican postcolonial hybrid identity that has been silenced until recently. Therefore, they disrupt the official national cultural and linguistic discourse about the Puerto Rican identity that has been weaved by the Spanish language in opposition to U.S. colonialist attempts of linguistic and cultural assimilation. This dissertation is located in the intersection between the fields of comparative literature, translation, cultural, gender and postcolonial studies. The question that guides this research is: Is self-translation in the case of Puerto Rico, a result of cultural hybridity in Puerto Rico's postcolonial context?Therefore, this is a multidisciplinary research project that integrates elements from the humanities and the social sciences. Methodologically, it integrates qualitative and quantitative approaches. Hence, hybridity is embedded in this research not only because it discusses English and Spanish writing, but because it includes textual analysis, content analysis and statistical analysis. The main finding is the deep conection between socio-political context, language, culture, identity, power and translation that supports the idea that self-translation is a postcolonial act, which in the case of Puerto Rico is strongly related to hybridity as an everyday practice of identity affirmation.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorParvathi Kumaraswami (Supervisor) & Siobhan Brownlie (Supervisor)


  • Self-Translation
  • Linguistic Hybridity
  • Puerto Rican Literature
  • Gender Studies
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Translation Studies
  • Comparative Literature

Cite this