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Research Article

Disposable Bodies: Undocumented Migrants and La jaula de oro’s Poetics of Austerity

Author:

Silvia Mejía

The College of Saint Rose, US
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Abstract

The film La jaula de oro (The Golden Dream, 2013), by Mexican-Spanish director Diego Quemada-Diez, begins in a landfill in Guatemala City and ends with one of its main characters, Juan, gathering waste in a meat processing plant, somewhere in the northern United States. Having crossed two borders, survived riding La Bestia across Mexico, and lost Sara, Chauk and Samuel on the way, Juan’s transnational journey comes full circle to end pretty much where it started: at the very bottom of the consumption chain. A strength of La jaula is its ability to make visible that main condition of undocumented migrant bodies: their disposability, the banality of their disappearance and/or death. In this paper I take this line of thought further and explore the ways in which, through its documentary-like style and neorealistic use of non-professional actors and real locations, Quemada-Diez’s storytelling develops what I will call a poetics of austerity. On one hand, the film tells a story about four teenagers whose lives have been made redundant by the effects of neoliberal austerity recipes —states’ disengagement from social investment and wealth redistribution—; on the other hand, its austere style relies heavily on the moving image and conspicuously avoids dialogue or other non-visual ways of creating meaning—such as non-diegetic music, for instance. Weaved together, these two approaches make up a revealing poetics, capable of baring the structural verticality (read inequality) hidden in globalization’s DNA.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.26824/lalr.245
How to Cite: Mejía, S., 2021. Disposable Bodies: Undocumented Migrants and La jaula de oro’s Poetics of Austerity. Latin American Literary Review, 48(96). DOI: http://doi.org/10.26824/lalr.245
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Published on 03 Aug 2021.
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