The Cryptogamous Machine: Simón Rodríguez and the Cultural Technologies of the Creole Enlightenment

Kellogg Institute Graduate Research Grants
Grant Year

This project examines the work of Simón Rodríguez (1769-1854), focusing on how his aesthetic and technical experimentation with print media engaged with racial differences and challenged nation-state formation in early 19th century Latin America. The dissertation argues that Rodriguez merged printed text, images, and vocal and bodily expression to expand the public sphere, responding to the communicative practices of marginalized indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. Through close analysis of Rodriguez's typographic "tableaux" and their resonances with non-elite communication forms, the project demonstrates how popular, non-printed media enabled and shaped Rodriguez's radical print techniques. The research illuminates the dynamic intersections of race, media, and democracy in Latin America, countering narratives of development that overlook diversity. By revealing Rodriguez's prescient media critique amidst racialized struggles over knowledge circulation, the project elucidates his role in Latin American cultural criticism and sheds light on enduring issues of inclusion and participation.