A book by Michael Hanchard has apparently now been listed in Brazil as one of the top 10 on racism, but he got into all this trouble there earlier because of it. He was really trashed by Brazilian scholars, that weak-minded lackey of the white elites Peter Fry, and the unsophisticated and supercilious pseudo-scholar Loïc Wacquant. John French wrote the most biting academic piece I have ever seen in response to these and other people and its appearance was a relief.

I will eventually run my book proposal past some Brazilianists but the project is on Spanish America as well and I already know what many Brazilianists working on this topic will say. It is what certain chicanistas also say about some things I, a non-chicana non-Brazilian, have written on their writers: anything that is said must be honorific and laudatory. If it is not, it is because one did not understand and is projecting values they imagine one to have into them.

This is why I sometimes conclude it is better to be in Spanish: Spanish and Spanish American critics actually respect themselves and their work enough so as to see the latter as an academic field that can in fact be studied and not just embodied or received like a mantle. There are some Brazilianists I would rather argue with in print like John French than allow to start suppressing my manuscript now.

We will discuss these issues further at a later point but I woke up this morning thinking about Hanchard. Do people dislike him as they do because he says things that are in fact true, such that he has to be maligned and silenced so dearly held beliefs can be kept in place, and nobody need shed a thing?

It is such a classic abuse structure: Hanchard, a Black man, says he has witnessed and experienced racist practices, to be told by British and French Lusophiles that he, an imperialist because American, only imagined these events or projected upon them an “American” view that “silenced” Brazil (i.e. he called out practices many Afro-Brazilians are not in a position to mention).


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