Gilberto Freyre

It seemed like pleasant work, getting the house ready for the cleaner and rearranging books so I could finish my paper, but I got to a more total rearrangement, recycled a lot of journal issues, and got other books and papers corralled for recycling and reduction.

There was a review essay on Freyre in LARR 43:1 (2008), by David Lehmann. Casa-grande e senzala (1933) caused Joshua Lund et al to publish an edited collection on GF and LAS (Pittsburgh: ILLI, 2006); there was also a book on Freyre as Victorian (Ma. Lúcia Garcia Pallares-Burke, UNESP, 2005).

Lund et al: as we know, Freyre’s book caused even the Estado Novo to embrace mixedness, and to call it Brazil’s true nationality. And GF may be “racist,” but with all these non-white identifications he has, is he really white? He wasn’t thinking about the European immigrants in the South as Brazilian at all. And he did NOT say Brazil was a “racial democracy.” And since about 1990 Brazilian scholars have been less worried about GF’s “racism” than before, and more interested in other, more subtle vertientes of his work. Yet the question of privatization of power — coronelismo, patriarchy — get less attention, and Freyre himself knowingly leaves these contradictions unresolved [I am quoting/paraphrasing from p. 213 of the article].

Pallares-Burke’s book on GF’s early intellectual development is important and very well researched. She shows how undigested his influences (if they are influences and not just quotations of recortes) are. He also kept revising his texts, and the translations are not always accurate since they are to some extent also revisions. He is both a progressive and a decadent Victorian. Although he appreciated very much the non-white Brazil, he gave it no protagonic role; candomblé did not catch his notice, and “strategies and purposes [of self-conscious race mixture and identity-mixing] are the preserve of the [elites]” (217). Freyre “avoided any intellectual arena save that which he could control” (217).

ALLCA put out a critical edition of C-G e S in 2002. GF is incoherent, although interesting, says Lehmann, and Lund’s collection is not so arranged as to get the essays it includes, and their insights, into the public eye; but Pallares-Burke’s book is brilliant. The article has much more in it than I have indicated here, but I’ve linked to it, so I can recycle my paper copy and think about all of these things.


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Books and things on nations and borders

There is The Borders of Dominicanism, useful to me in that it invokes another borderland with the U.S.

There is At the edges of states: Dynamics of state formation in the Indonesian borderlands (Michael Eilenberg)

The book rests on the premise that remote border regions offer an exciting study arena that can tell us important things about how marginal citizens relate to their nation-state. The basic assumption is that central state authority in the Indonesian borderlands has never been absolute, but waxes and wanes, and state rules and laws are always up for local interpretation and negotiation. In its role as key symbol of state sovereignty, the borderland has become a place were central state authorities are often most eager to govern and exercise power. But as illustrated, the borderland is also a place were state authority is most likely to be challenged, questioned and manipulated as border communities often have multiple loyalties that transcend state borders and contradict imaginations of the state as guardians of national sovereignty and citizenship.

There is National Identities and Sociopolitical Changes in Latin America, eds. Durán-Cogan and Gómez-Moriana, Routledge 2001, with a Wynter piece in it I am told to read.

In other news, there is also Maite Condé’s Foundational films: early cinema and modernity in Brazil and the film, A 12-year night. This and “La operación,” the documentary on sterilization of Puerto Ricans, would be good for our planned class on film and human rights.


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Today I thought I did nothing

And in fact I did little, but I did:

Decide I have done enough research for this paper, even if there are blind spots in my work, and I will just write it up and that is it, the heck with everything.

Definitively decide about my hedge: all I need for now are three Green Giant arborvitae.

Work on summer travel, which is important to do now. I believe I will fly United to CDMEX and stay there for ten days to two weeks, in that place in Coyoacán, and Delta to Guadalajara and stay there for one week to ten days.

IMPORTANT is that I will finish my paper BEFORE FINALS WEEK somehow. I will also NOT GIVE FINALS, except, perhaps, for one class – – I will find some way to end classes in the last week, which will allow me to breathe and go to N.O. to finish my paper, in case I need to do that.

If I play my cards right, I can fly United both times, using up my Frequent Flyer miles and enabling me to give up that credit card.


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That consular visit

Inviting a consul can go beyond a reception. It can be a community event with the Consul and her or his staff speaking to students and faculty, the local business community, immigrant organizations, and so on. A Consul can explain international trade, education abroad opportunities, food, and cultural exchanges … give a great deal of information to both university stakeholders and local communities more broadly.

Very well.


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Compulsory heterosexuality and alternative anthropophagy

I thought I was just puttering around, rereading Adrienne Rich because someone sent me that essay, and reading about Oswaldo Costa because this article popped up, but actually: they are for my paper.

Anzaldúa is a lesbian writer and following Rich, that is more important than her just being a defender of all supposedly “marginal” or “border” identities. (And I suppose I should give more respect to Mignolo’s “border thinking.”)

And Costa, apparently, has an actually counter-colonial form of anthropophagy. I will have to think about this again, reread the piece, but these are three interesting thoughts.

And as lagniappe: did you know Jameson was a Pérez Galdós fan?


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Undergraduate and other research

Here’s a good list of things people undertaking research, need and should do:

1. have knowledge of what a research question is;
2. have basic subject knowledge in a chosen topic area, e.g., its major research questions;
3. develop a capacity for being interested in questions where the answer is nonobvious;
4. have the ability to inquire into one’s own core interests;
5. develop the project topic research question (with self-reflexivity and metacognition);
6. identify a thesis or hypothesis about the topic (one that is interesting and nonobvious);
7. plan the investigation (identify steps and continually revise methods);
8. organize research (including recording and sorting of conflicting information);
9. interpret research results (including results that are contradictory, disorganized, unsanctioned, or anomalous);
10. develop one’s analysis and narrative into a coherent narrative (gaps included);
11. publicly or socially present findings and respond to criticism;
12. have the ability to reformulate conclusions and narrative in response to new information and contexts; and
13. have the ability to fight opposition, to develop within institutions, and to negotiate with society.


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Filed under Resources, Teaching, What Is A Scholar?, Working

World literature, cosmopolitanism, globality

This book is open access and I am in love with that.

And I’ve got a co-translator now for that project, a powerful one, and a press says they’ll take the book. We have not yet seen the contract, but I suppose we will get one.

I got really mad at the university and envious of big professors who are reading books, so I decided I would ignore everything and read some books, too.

Down with drudgery.


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