Josué Chávez

Wolf Humanities Center Associate Scholar

20232024 Forum on Revolution

Josué Chávez

Ph.D. Candidate, Hispanic Studies

Josué Chávez is a PhD Candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studies how Central American artistic productions mediate national histories of socio-economic transformation and their global connections. His dissertation, Abject Comportments: Financial Experiments and Artistic Forms in Contemporary Central America, investigates how, after the failure of revolutionary struggles in the late 20th-century, contemporary literature, visual arts and architecture are able to theorize in their formal coordination the relations between national financial experiments and neocolonial class relations as contradictory strategies of self-delusion. Focusing on the transformation of Panama into a tax haven, the dollarization and Bitcoinization of the remittance economy in El Salvador, and the legalization of charter cities in Honduras, the project scrutinizes the potential to produce new knowledge about finance and Central America in a global context that only the arts, their criticism and interpretation can give access to.

Abject Comportments: Financial Experiments and Artistic Forms in Contemporary Central America, 1970- 2022 

My dissertation investigates how literary, visual and architectural works of art from the Central American isthmus theorize in their formal composition the social contradictions of contemporary financial experiments, such as Panama’s transformation into a tax haven in the 1970s, the dollarization of remittances in El Salvador soon after the peace accords of 1992 and the legalization of privatized, special economic zones (also known as charter cities) in Honduras, after the 2009 coup. I scrutinize how the artifacts from my corpus parody in the coordination of form and content older genres, both regional and global, thus breaking generic conventions and resulting in the humorous imitation of a peripheral elite consciousness that disavows the contradictions of finance-driven accumulation in Central America through numerous strategies of self-delusion.