Natalia del Carmen Eduardo Eduardo

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Born and raised in Guatemala, Colombia and Spain. I moved to Germany in 2015 and studied my B.A. in Cultural Studies and Spanish Philology at the Potsdam Universität and an M.A in interdisciplinary Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Since the beginning of my academic career, I have been interested in socio-cultural practices that explore questions of the dynamic constitution between knowledge productions and their material representations. In my bachelor’s thesis, I investigated the subaltern production of knowledge in the formation of historical memory within indigenous women’s activist initiatives in relation to national historiography during the post-war period in Guatemala. This work, entitled „Feminist and Decolonial Practices of Remembering in Postwar Guatemala,“ was awarded the Gender Prize 2020 of the University of Potsdam. For my Master’s thesis in Latin American Studies, I researched the technical and social history of the United Fruit Company’s Central American banana industry and its literary, cultural, and political traces in Caribbean societies. These interests have led me to explore philosophical and methodological approaches from science and technology studies and global studies in my academic practice, and I would like to deepen these approaches as part of my doctoral research. Complementary to my academic journey, I am a writer of poetry and short stories and work as an editor in the magazin ALBA Lateinamerika lesen.

From soil to road: technical infrastructures in Banana Plantations in Central America in the 19th and 20th Century

My starting point for a doctoral study is the exploration of literary and cultural production that offers ways of understanding underlying experiences in history when trade routes are not only materially constructed but also ‚cartographed‘ in discourse and practice. I propose to explore the routes around the plantation infrastructure of Central America and the Caribbean as a space in its own complexity, rather than as an invisible connection between two points. Through this study, I aim to contribute to a historical and epistemological analysis of this invisibility, questioning the dynamics of connection/fragmentation in the formation of modern capitalist infrastructures. The spatial dynamics of the commercial infrastructures emerging from the Panama Canal and the co-production of banana plantations in Central America and the Caribbean are at the core of my doctoral project. I propose a contribution from cultural and literary studies which enables the visibility of counter-narratives to the modernity of infrastructure in order to enhance and acknowledge the complex and multifaceted interactions along the trade routes and their impact on social reality in Central America and the Caribbean.

The Panama Canal reflects a paradigm that not only ‘opens’ a flow of trade and reshapes the material landscape, but also historically creates a ‘re-accommodation’ and movement of people, goods, cultures, and beliefs. In the need to understand and analyze commercial infrastructures in their role in the co-creation of spaces and landscapes, I became interested in the entangled histories in and through commercial routes that connect people to plantations, goods, and transport systems. My interest in practices of space-making, such as the creation of banana plantations in C.A, lies in part in the narratives that contribute to or counteract a modern-colonial world-making that deeply alternates the politics of the administration of-and right to land. Therefore, I propose the following question for the intended study: How do local and subaltern relations to and conceptions of land overlap or intertwine with practices of space-making through the construction of trade routes in the emergence of Central American banana plantations in the 19th and 20th centuries?

The industrialization and agricultural processes that were repeated in similar forms throughout the Central American region gave rise to a significant literary production known as ‘banana novels’. These novels assertively narrate the experiences of dispossession and exploitation caused by the enterprises that built the plantation infrastructure. The literary production surrounding the emerging banana ‘enclave’ criticizes modern and colonial ideas of progress in commercial routes and technical infrastructures in Central America and the Caribbean. I believe that through the exploration of these “alternative” narratives towards official tales of progress in the context of road and route building, one can better understand the relationship between the material world and the human experience.

The Central American and Caribbean isthmus is an ideal context for examining how Western and colonial narratives utilize infrastructure to construct notions of fixed routes and landscapes, reinforcing the dichotomy between land and sea while obscuring the more fluid dynamics of spatial practices. This study draws on existing scholarship that advocates for methodologies that facilitate the exploration of the complex histories of colonialism and the interplay of diverse forms of knowledge in commercial routes. Within these contributions, I will expand on the question of how commercial infrastructures are framed epistemologically within a Central American context. This inquiry will lead me to explore and analyze how roads are intricately linked to discourses about space-making technologies, which are highly relevant in current struggles for land rights