Panopticism and Monarchical Rule in Miguel Ángel Asturias's El señor presidente

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Latin American Studies Program, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Revisions to Michel Foucault’s concept of panopticism have questioned the actual existence of a unique entity located at its center. Roberto Esposito has also criticized Foucault’s ambivalence at defining the limits of panopticism in relation to sovereignty. By employing Esposito’s discussion about the overlapping between panopticism and sovereignty, the author analyzes how power is exerted in Miguel Ángel Asturias’s El señor presidente. First, this paper examines the functioning of utilitarist systems of societal control. Secondly, it focuses on how the character of the President is also described as a sovereign. Finally, it argues that, in the case of Asturias’s novel, panopticism does not exclude sovereignty. Asturias’s novel reveals the nightmarish contradictions of a panopticist organization of power with a sovereign at its center.
El señor presidente, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Panopticism and literature, Sovereignty and literature, Power and literature.