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Hispanic Review

Call for Papers, Special Issue


Native Fauna in Latin American Literatures: Precolonial to Present Times


“While literature is neither a natural habitat for animals nor thereby a repository of reliable knowledge about the anatomy, physiology, and perhaps even the ethology if animals, it has nevertheless had more to say about our relation to animals over time than any other discourse” (Ortiz Robles Literature and Animal Studies, 2016 x)

This special issue is inspired by a curiosity and a doubt: Where are the sloths in Latin American literature? Judging by contemporary literature, it often seems that authors are more interested in ‘exotic’ and charismatic animals from other continents (hippos, thylacines, rhinos, tigers, camels) than Abya Yala’s autochthonous fauna. Non-native species abound in twentieth-century literature, too. In the mid-century bestiario there are more zoo or fantastic animals than Latin American wildlife. In boom literature, we find plenty of domestic, non-native animals originally brought by the conquistadors like cows, pigs, and chickens. Yet evidence to the contrary can also be found: the tlacuaches and other animals of pre-Conquest Indigenous literatures; the parrots and manatees in colonial texts; the vividly cataloged and described animal presences in nineteenth century travel and nature writing; Gabo’s butterflies and ants; the jaguar of the novelas de la selva; and, of course, the vital South American animal worlds of Horacio Quiroga and Luis Sepúlveda. Yet even Quiroga delighted in having Asian cobras and tigers in his stories.

This issue seeks articles that examine the effects, meanings, or reasons for notable presences/absences of Latin American autochthonous fauna in any period from precolonial to present times. Which native species appear, which do not? Where are the sloths, the neotropical insects, the coatis, the guacamayos, the llamas, the toucans, the alpacas, the capybaras, the rhea, the tiny frogs, the anteaters, the piranhas, the armadillos in Latin American literature? The issue invites articles that discuss native fauna in relation to questions of place, biodiversity, ecology, extractivism, colonialism, cosmopolitanism, or divergent attitudes towards the nature/culture divide. For instance, how do a “sense of place and a sense of planet” (Heise) or “deseos de mundo” (Siskind) affect representations of nonhuman animals in Latin America? How much does an awareness of the so called “Columbian exchange” (Crosby) and its changes on the ecosystem permeate (or not) Latin American literatures? Other possible topics include “modes of encounter” (Norton) with native fauna; animal hunting, trafficking, domestication, or extinction of native fauna; problematizations of the terms native/autochthonous vs. invasive fauna.

This special issue aims to contribute to the consolidation of the field of Latin American literary animal or human-animal studies and contributors are expected to engage with debates in this growing field, as they “follow the animal” (Lönngren) and undertake reassessments of classics or highlight understudied faunacentric works. Open to all periods and any genre. Submissions in Spanish and English welcome.

Please follow Hispanic Review submission guidelines:

Special issue edited by Sophie Esch, Rice University.



September 30, 2023: abstracts (200-250 words) due.

Please send to

October 2023: notification of acceptance/rejection of abstract.

August 31, 2024: deadline for completed articles.

Fall 2024: peer review.

2025: publication.

You can download the cfp here.

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