Dr Fabricio Tocco

PhD Hispanic Studies (University of British Columbia); MA Littérature et Histoire (Université Paris 7); BA Comp. Lit. and BA Spanish (Universitat de Barcelona).
Lecturer in Spanish (Language and Literature) | Portuguese Convenor
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Literature In Spanish And Portuguese 200514
  • Literary Theory 200525
  • Iberian Languages 200308
  • Screen And Media Culture 470214
  • Comparative And Transnational Literature 470507

Research interests

Intersections between Literature, Film, History and Political Theory
Latin American Studies and Critical Theory
Popular Genres: Crime Fiction, Political Thriller.
Post-Dictatorial Southern Cone: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay
Gender Studies: Masculinity and Power


I was born in 1985 in Argentina, but grew up between Buenos Aires and São Paulo (Brazil), within a plurilingual family and a multiethnic heritage —a mix of Southern and Northern Italian, Portuguese and Indigenous background from what is now Brazil. After a major economical and political crisis that affected South America in the early 2000s, I moved with my family to Catalonia, Spain, where I finished high-school in Tarragona and later earned two BAs at the Universitat de Barcelona (Comparative Literature and Spanish Language and Literature).

In 2010, I moved to Paris (France), as part of the Erasmus Program, to study at the Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV. In 2013, I completed my MA in Littérature et Histoire at the Université Paris 7, where I wrote the thesis Le fantastique hispanique à la lumière de la théorie et la sociologie de la littérature, under the supervision of Prof Guiomar Hautcœur. My thesis is a comparative study on supernatural stories written in Spain and Argentina (Bécquer, Alarcón, Borges), contrasted with the Anglo-French canon (Cazotte, Maupassant, W.W. Jacobs)

In 2019, I obtained my PhD in Hispanic Studies at the University of British Columbia (Canada), where I wrote the dissertation A Poetics of Failure: Individualism and the Post Dictatorial State in Southern Cone Detective Stories, under the supervision of Prof. Jon Beasley-Murray.

In January 2021, I joined ANU, where I have been convening the Portuguese program and teaching courses on different levels of Spanish language as well as Spanish and Latin American literature and film.


Researcher's projects


Detective stories have often been read as a modern translation of an old literary opposition: the conflict between good and evil, order against chaos, the cop chasing the thief. My first book Latin American Detectives against Power. Individualism, the State and Failure in Crime Fiction  (Lexington, 2022) examines a second, underlying battle at stake: the rivalry between the detective who confronts not only the criminal but also the police. In turn, this antagonism stands for a deeper historical and political problem: the tensions between individidualism and the state.

The canon of North American and British detective stories has dramatised this tension, treating the detective as a personification of individualism and the police as an incarnation of the state. Traditionally, this has been regarded as a critique of the state: in Poe, Conan Doyle, Hammett or Chandler, either the armchair detective or the hard-boiled tough guy, they almost invariably outwit the incompetent police at the end of the plot, solving the case first.Latin American Detectives against Power explores detective stories by authors from Argentina, Brazil and Chile: Ricardo Piglia, Rubem Fonseca, and Roberto Bolaño. Most of them were published over the 1990s post-dictatorial period in the region, dealing, in one way or another, with 1970s state-sponsored violence. Examining the centrality of failure (understood both as "defeat" and "malfunction") in the work of these authors, the book exposes how the Anglo-American canon, with its masculine fantasies of individualism and power, functions more as an apology than as a genuine critique of the state.

Latin American Detectives against Power
was awarded the International Crime Fiction Association 2022 Book Prize.
In awarding the prize, ICFA noted that:“This is a brave ground-breaking book. Reading Latin American crime fiction through the lens of canonical Anglo-American texts, authors, and detective figures to begin with, it branches out into literature less seen and/or less often associated with detective fiction. Elucidating the creation of crime fiction within different political backdrops he shows how this type of literature can illuminate conceptions of place, politics, reading and resistance.”



I am currently working on my second book: Precarious Secrets: A History of the Political Thriller in Latin America (University of Texas Press, 2025). 


ANCLAS, Small Grants 4,100$ to film a documentary, Secretos precarios, as a companion piece of Precarious Secrets

Available student projects

Proposals are welcome for Honours, MPhil, and PhD research in any of the areas listed in the research interests section above.

Current student projects

Thisaranie Wijayabandara Herath, Translating Screens: A Comparative Study on the American and Spanish Teen Thriller TV Series Consumption in Sri Lanka, MPHil, ANU, 2023-2025.

Past student projects

Raju Mitra, «El uso de niños soldados en Colombia», Extended Learning Program, University of British Columbia, July 2020.


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Updated:  15 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers