Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Silva, Grant

Second Advisor

Luft, Sebastian

Third Advisor

Rivera Berruz, Stephanie


My dissertation consists of two main Parts. Part I draws from Edmund Husserl’s notion of the “historical a priori” and from seminal decolonial thinker Anibal Quijano’s formulation of “coloniality” to offer a framework for what I call the “coloniality of history.” Chapter 1 draws from Husserl’s and from contemporary analyses of the “historical a priori” as a historical horizon of conceivability for subject and truth formation. Chapter 2 brings this phenomenological analysis to interpret Quijano’s formulation of “coloniality” as a historical horizon of conceivability and to offer a framework for what I call the “coloniality of history.” This framework shows that historical ideals introduced during colonization continue to structure the ways in which colonized peoples relate to the past, present, and future. Part II applies the framework of the coloniality of history to interpret developmentalist conceptions of history which served to justify colonial enterprises in Latin America, and to delineate the limits and possibilities of the liberation project called mestizaje. Chapter 3 argues that developmentalist conceptions of history situated colonized peoples within a double bind: between an uncivilized indigenous past and a civilized European future. I characterize this historical situation as nepantla, an indigenous concept that captures the existential situation of being in-between worlds of meaning. Chapter 4 analyzes the liberation project of mestizaje in the work of mid-20th century Mexican philosopher Leopoldo Zea. I argue that Zea’s conception of mestizaje traces the Latin American identity to its indigenous past, thereby continuing to relegate indigenous peoples as the past rather than the present of Latin America. Chapter 5 turns to Gloria Anzaldúa’s formulation of mestizaje. I argue that Anzaldúa articulates nepantla in an embodied way, and that she articulates mestizaje as the juxtaposition of historical meanings which aims to generate a new conception of the colonized body.

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