New Book: Las ciudades del deseo [Cities of Desire]

[Many thanks to Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes for bringing this item to our attention.] Las ciudades del deseo: Las políticas de género, sexualidad y espacio urbano en el Caribe hispano [Cities of Desire: The politics of gender, sexuality and urban space in the Hispanic Caribbean]by Elena Valdez, was published by ‎ Purdue University Press this month (November 2022). You may peruse the book at

The book centers on five authors: Antonio José Ponte (Cuba), Rey Reynolds Andujar (Dominican Republic), Rita Indiana (Dominican Republic), Angel Lozada (Puerto Rico), and Daniel Torres Rodríguez (Puerto Rico).

Myrna García (Syracuse University) explains: “This project is particularly interested in studying the ways in which the approach to sexuality (sexualities) in these novels deliberately disassembles traditional binary approaches that have rested fundamentally on the heterosexual matrix. This binarism is perceived by the author as a contributor to the creation and preservation of foundational myths and patriarchal readings of spaces and cultures, subjects, and citizens of the Hispanic Caribbean. Turning this approach on its heels, this monograph explores policies and traditions on gender and sexuality in these urban spaces from an alternative perspective, one that is often hidden and silenced within the discussions that express opinions or attempt to codify the citizens who should represent the nation.”

Description: Las ciudades del deseo explores the representations of gender, sexuality, and urban space in contemporary narratives from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. By examining a corpus of novels published since 2000, this book shows how the changes in urban landscape create a new image of the city that destroys traditional gender roles and produces different discourses on sexuality. At moments of crisis in political agendas that took place between 1990 and 2000, queer subjects became spokespeople outlining new national projects on each island, while claiming space in the national imaginary. The nation is no longer built on blood ties, patriarchal norms, or biological procreation, but rather starts incorporating previously excluded racial identities and sexual practices.

By juxtaposing the narratives of the three countries and putting into dialogue the topics of nationality, sexuality, urban space, and sex tourism, Las ciudades del deseo breaks away from a tradition that tends to study them separately. The book contributes new perspectives on an emerging culture of resistance to heteronormative dynamics and power structures that is developing simultaneously in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. It sheds light on larger connections between literature and LGBTQ activism in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Elena Valdez is a lecturer at Christopher Newport University. She received her PhD in Hispanic literature from Rutgers. Previously she taught at Swarthmore College. She specializes in Hispanic Caribbean literature, US Latina/o literature, twentieth- through twenty-first-century Latin American novel, gender and queer studies, and diaspora studies. Within Latina/o and Caribbean studies, Valdez’s principal interests include queer sexuality, urban space, national identity, and visual culture. She has published articles on contemporary Caribbean literature in edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals such as CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican StudiesSmall Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, and Letras hispanas. She was the NeMLA Summer Fellow and a recipient of the Columbia University Libraries Research Award.

For more information, see

2 thoughts on “New Book: Las ciudades del deseo [Cities of Desire]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s