LACUSL Speaker Series: Sacrificing the Goat in Mario Vargas Llosa’s La fiesta del Chivo


Please join us for the first LACUSL Speakers Series of the 2021-2022 academic year.

The 2021-2022 LACUSL SpeakerSeries Presents:

“Sacrificing the Goat in Mario Vargas Llosa’s La fiesta del Chivo”

Dr. Christopher Schulenburg, Professor of Spanish at UW-Platteville
Tuesday, October 12th, 3:30 p.m.
Via Zoom. Register in advance here.

Symbolic control over the Americas, spelled-out in the Monroe Doctrine of 1825, exacts its ethical price throughout history. While announcing the end of European hegemony west of the Atlantic, this declaration also suggested that the United States enjoyed the prerogative to intervene in this hemisphere as a means of promoting its own political and economic interests. Although democracy would seem to represent the lofty ideal motivating this influence, twentieth-century dictatorships often replaced these ambitions with brute force. Moreover, as exemplified by the CIA-supported overthrow of leftist President Arbenz in Guatemala and the infamous failure to depose Cuba’s President Castro at the Bay of Pigs, the 1950’s and 60’s underscored a heightened sense of urgency to maintain “friendly” regimes around the Caribbean. The case of the Dominican Republic, led for more than three decades (1930-61) by its dictator, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, clearly illustrates this uneasy coexistence between the support for North American order and its surrender of democratic ethics. Thus, despite Trujillo’s anti-communist stance, his increasingly brazen human rights violations ultimately encouraged a U.S. supported assassination carried out by a group of Dominican actors. Throughout Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel La fiesta del Chivo (2000), three related plot lines both illuminate this atmosphere of fear and narrate the violent end of Trujillo. In the end, this dictator’s routine crimes encourage his citizens to organize a purging of Trujillo from the Dominican Republic altogether. From a hemispheric and island perspective, Vargas Llosa volunteers this assassination as a means of “sacrificing the Goat” (al Chivo) to substitute public power for the haphazard violence employed to further this seemingly unending dictatorship.

Sponsored by the Latin American, Caribbean, & US Latinx Studies Major

About our Speaker Series

The LACUSL Speaker Series brings together scholars, professionals, and students working in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latinx Studies to discuss research, teaching, culture, current events, and other topics of interest to students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Speaker Series is interdisciplinary, and draws on the expertise of faculty and graduate students in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the professional schools. All events are free and open to the public.