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“Ghetto Nerd at the End of the World”: the Decolonized Chronotope, Liminality, and Dialogics in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


  • Clarissa Grace Chang

Summary, in English

Narratives focusing on People of Color often suffer from neocolonial treatment with narrow focus on race at the expense of character development, working with stereotypical monoliths rather than complex individuals. These types of narratives tend to use Whiteness as a “neutral” reference point. In this thesis, I demonstrate how novelist Junot Díaz crafts The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao around a universe that explores narratives and value systems that normalize and center around People of Color. I examine how Díaz presents a multigenerational nebulous investigation of decolonial liminality through the lens of what I term the “decolonized chronotope,” a device for analyzing texts and their cultures in a way that addresses and delinks from colonialist power structures. I analyze the novel dialogically by looking at the interplay of the underlying diaspora, the oscillations––or shifts––between genre, language(s), time, space, perspective), and what the novel’s various internal interactions convey about the larger whole. Using theories from M.M. Bakhtin, alongside Gayatri Spivak, John Muthyala, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin, among others, I deconstruct the oscillations that power the decolonized chronotope, as well as examine the nature of diaspora, hegemonic cultural control, and colonialism in the novel.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • contemporary literature
  • Junot Díaz
  • decolonized chronotope
  • decolonial imagination
  • heteroglossia
  • New Jersey
  • Dominican Republic
  • Afro-Latinidad


  • Birgitta Berglund (FD)