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 Javier Cortés Ortuño

Javier Cortés Ortuño

Research student, School of Modern Languages


I am a PhD student from northern Chile, currently researching Chilean literature from the mid-twentieth century. My thesis focuses on depictions of the desert fostered and contested through a series of romance novels over a period of around forty years.

I hold a bachelor's degree in Social Anthropology (2008) from Universidad de Chile. I also completed a master's degree in Latin American Literature (2012) at Universidad Alberto Hurtado. Before coming to Cardiff, I was working as a Lecturer and Undergraduate Programme Coordinator (2014-2018) at the Anthropology Department in Universidad de Tarapacá.

My PhD studies are sponsored by the Becas Chile scholarship, awarded by the Chilean Government in 2018.


Research interests

  •          Latin American Literature

  •          Environmental humanities

  •          National romances

  •          Gender theory and masculinities

  •          Race and racism


Romance, otherness and nation building in Chilean literature about the desert northern regions (Tarapacá-Antofagasta), 1935-1975

My thesis explores a series of Chilean novels from the 1935-1975 period that were part of a common literary effort to depict the desert northern regions of the country (known as Norte grande or the North) —the territories that Chile annexed from Bolivia and Peru after the War of the Pacific. The novels I examine narrate love stories set in the frontier desert whose characters struggle against different forms of class, gender and race-oriented violence. I analyse how through these romances Chilean writers affirmed, discussed or challenged what I label the "colonial aesthetic of the North": a shared conception of the desert as a frontier land of riches; a land that is conquered and transformed by means of a masculine, working-class, racially Chilean enterprise, simultaneously tragic and heroic.

Funding source

ANID, Ministerio de Ciencia, Gobierno de Chile


Dr Ryan Prout

Reader in Hispanic Studies

Joey Whitfield

Dr Joey Whitfield

Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies