Exploration or Exploitation? Wombs, Warriors, and Women in António Lobo Antunes’s Os Cus de Judas

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Tarricone, Angela Marie
This research paper was the final essay for my capstone class (ENG 472.01) with Dr. Sharon L. Allen. Abstract: Using postmodern technique, Portuguese author António Lobo Antunes forces his readers to stare into the soul of colonialism’s horrid truths within the context of the Angolan War of Independence. Antunes writes to challenge the connections between war, heroism, and nationalism, while deconstructing the binary between colonist and colonized. This essay argues that Antunes’s narrator in Os Cus de Judas asks the reader to see the ways in which war acts as a paradox to masculinity and threatens one’s male identity. To further this argument, this essay examines Antunes’s use of postmodern tropes within his colonialist critique, focusing specifically on his vulgar and grotesque discourse surrounding sex and sexual dominance with both white bodies and bodies of color, as well as erotic bodily discourse surrounding descriptions of geographic space belonging to both the colonized and colonizer. This essay demonstrates that these postmodern tropes all serve as ways for Antunes’s narrator to reassert his masculine identity that has been threatened by imperialism even though, ultimately, his attempts are unsuccessful. In his efforts to achieve remasculinization, the narrator is also working to recover his colonial identity, ultimately becoming deprived of both by the conclusion of the novel, resulting in an existential crisis.
This is one of two third place winners for 2020.