Monthly Archives: April 2019

Le succès

I read at the New Orleans Poetry Festival, from our translation manuscript (a revised version of the first of these poems, and some others). People liked them and thought the book has a future.

I met, and got to talk to and hang out with Salgado Maranhão, his translator Alexis Levitin, the Poet in New York translator Mark Statman, a cool local professor named Ralph Adamo, a cool Bay Area poet named Joseph Lease, a cool bartender at the Spotted Cat who is a Cuban-American poet and writes for Ploughshares, and Omar Pimienta who was especially enthusiastic about our project, which was an honor.

Another new friend turned me onto this poem.


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Filed under Poetry, What Is A Scholar?, Working

In California

I am going to California soon, but already need to buy a second flight, for the following trip.

What I will do during THIS trip is order all of the books I can, for both grants, and find out how to use the university grant — and if I need a university credit card.

I think I wrote a bibliography for the university grant, and I need to locate it, determine whether I actually submitted one or just made a list for myself. There are various book lists in my course blog site and these probably came from whatever other list I had, but I must make sure.

Other things I can do in California are sort through my Dropbox, try to organize all files. This would be very, very much worthwhile. I need to back up my desktops as well, and do something about the one at work.



Filed under Working

On independent study

If you wish me to direct an independent project, please see the AA and fill out the departmental application. Please also read the following and prepare a written application to me.

1/ Independent research is independent research. I will advise and guide you but I will not:
– tutor you through a regular course that I am giving at a different time.
– direct an independent project undertaken in lieu of regular coursework.
– design and teach a special course just for you.

2/ Research is research, and it means learning. I will direct independent projects as simple as:
– supervised readings, i.e. for graduate students or sometimes, advanced undergraduates who want to develop knowledge of a field by reading and commenting on a focused list of books they have developed (e.g. to do an in-depth study of the complete works of an author, or key works in a period).
– supervised fieldwork or internships.
However, I will not supervise “research” that involves reading a few random things from the Internet, or “independent work” that involves no more than looking at a few things suggested by me. Furthermore: research is exploration and discovery, not cherry-picking of evidence or quotations to support preconceived notions; it is also focused, and depends upon background knowledge in field and on topic. Independent reading is different, but it still requires focus, discipline and enough background in field to work independently.

3/ I will not conduct discussions of your work by e-mail or telephone. You must see me in person, at a time convenient to me. This means not during my research time, nor just before or after a long day of regular teaching. Please remember that supervising your independent work is a favor I am doing you, at no cost to you, but significant cost in terms of time and energy to me, to the department and to other students who also have claims on my time.

4/ I expect you to be self-directed and to put focused time into the project every week. I expect you to know how to use the library, take notes, write summaries and abstracts, and annotate a text. I expect you to develop a bibliography and a portfolio of research materials that grow by the week. I expect our conversations to center on patterns that form and ideas and insights generated by the work. I expect a final product that is a result of this work.

5/ To work independently you need formal background in field and on your topic, and you need a good working relationship with your supervisor. I will not do directed study for students who have not taken a formal course with me in the field of their research/directed study topic, at the appropriate level. Neither will I offer independent work to anyone simply because they do not like the regular courses being offered.


I certify that I have read the four paragraphs above carefully and understand them.

Signature: _____ Date: _____

Please discuss, on a separate sheet of paper, the following:
1. Field or title of project, and reasons for your interest in it
2. Academic background supporting your work in the proposed area
3. Language background that will support your research
4. Library skills and prior training or experience in fieldwork
5. The research product you anticipate creating (e.g. annotated bibliography, conference presentation, article manuscript, etc.)


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Psychopolitics 1: the crisis of freedom

I learned about this book from Clarissa’s blog and am now reading it as well. This post is an aide-mémoire, not a full discussion.

a. The exploitation of freedom.
“Freedom will prove to have been merely an interlude.” It is felt when passing from one way of living to another, until this too turns out to be a form of coercion and gives way to renewed subjugation. “Such is the destiny of the subject; literally, ‘the one who has been cast down.’
* We no longer consider ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects…the change may seem liberating but the result is a more efficient kind of subjectivation and subjugation
*  The “achievement-subject” absolutizes bare life and labor, which form two sides of the same coin.
* Being free means being among friends. These two words have the same root in Indo-European. That is why academic freedom and collegiality go together; freedom signifies a relationship and a real feeling of freedom occurs only in a fruitful relationship — when being with others brings happiness (3).
* The neoliberal world, however, leads to utter isolation. As Marx indicates, individual freedom is a ruse, a trick of capital. Individual freedom sets capital, not people free. It degrades individuals, who are used to propagate capital, and become its genital organs.

b. The dictatorship of capital
* Industrial capitalism has mutated into neoliberalism. There has not been the struggle that would lead beyond capitalism, pace Marx; “capitalism can always escape into the fugure precisely because it harbours permanent and inherent contradiction” (5) … so we have entered a post-industrial, immaterial mode of production where we are all auto-exploiting entrepreneurs, master and slave in one; class struggle is now an inner struggle against oneself
* There is no multitude, pace Negri; there are only self-combating entrepreneurs. Therefore the cooperative Multitude will NOT throw off the parasitic Empire. This is a complete illusion.
* We are in a regime of auto-exploitation, so aggression is turned against the self. So the exploited do not rebel, but get depressed. We do not work to satisfy our needs, but those of Capital; it generates needs of its own, which we mistakenly perceive to belong to us. “We are being expelled from the sphere of lived immanence — where life relates to life instead of subjugating itself to external ends.” (7) Capital replaces religion as the transcendent order. In this situation politics becomes the handmaiden of Capital.
* Before God we are all debtors: guilty. But debt, or guilt, destroys freedom. Politicians today say high debt rates limit their freedom. Free from debt, we would truly have to ACT. Do we run up debts so as not to have to … so as not to be free, or responsible?
* Benjamin said capitalism was a religion. He noted that it created guilt but not atonement. People seize on the cult of capitalism not to atone for guilt but to make the guilt universal, he said!

c. The dictatorship of transparency
* Thanks to the Internet we are in this panopticon; this has implications.
* Neoliberalism turns citizens into consumers and politicians into suppliers. The demand for “transparency” from politicians is NOT a political demand, but a consumerist one.
* In the past there was surveillance; now we are actively steered.



Filed under ALFS presentation, Subconference, Theories Bibliography, ULS Presentation

Imagined globalization (reviewed by Dustin Welch García)

Dustin Welch García, Book Review of Imagined Globalization, AmeriQuests 12.1 (2015). Nestor García Canclini. 2014. Imagined Globalization, trans. G. Yúdice. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Pages: 242. Paperback: $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-8223-5461-1

The recent English translation and publication of Nestor García Canclini’s Imagined Globalization, which first appeared in Spanish in 1999, offers a nuanced examination of globalization that is relevant despite its relatively late English-language arrival. Contrasting with mainstream academic views that have focused heavily on the economic processes of globalization, García Canclini utilizes art, culture, literature and audiovisual platforms as imaginative exploratory tools to analyze the evolving relationship between Latin America, the United States and Europe. His book shows that globalization simultaneously is and is not what it claims to be, as its effects are largely limited to the integration of select countries and their elites, while remaining a far off reality for most of the world’s population.

The introduction by George Yúdice places García Canclini’s work in intellectual and literary context; Yúdice cues the reader in on García Canclini’s background as a philosopher and anthropologist, as well as his socioeconomically oriented approach to literature, art and audiovisual media, which provides rationale for the author’s use of narrative and metaphor in this work. The author’s footnotes all through the book are helpful in updating the reader on the important changes that have occurred since the book was first published.

García Canclini goes to great lengths throughout his book to illustrate how the notion of a bright economic future brought about by globalization, as it is frequently understood, is precarious and fails to account for the importance of how cultural products and language imbue meaning and continuity into the social relations we hold dearly. In doing so, the author repeatedly rejects the tension between the ‘defense of identity’ and ‘globalization,’ but rather asserts that we must to learn the benefits of understanding of how we can act and be in relation to other groups, engage with heterogeneity, inequality and difference. The author describes globalization in a way that recognizes its structurally fragmented nature and the inherent difficulty in offering a unified explanation of a multi-dimensional process, saying that it is “…a collection of processes of homogenization and, at the same time, an articulated fragmentation of the world that reorders differences and inequalities without eradicating them” (25). He urges the reader to consider that globalization should not merely be seen as a series of economic operations and faceless transactions, but to see the fundamentally human foundation in this process and also, to recognize the “dramatic rifts endured by people who do not live where they are born” (41).

Demonstrating the continued relevance of his work, García Canclini discusses how interculturality is more prevalent through media communication than through in-person migration. It is quite easy for goods, communication and financial investment to pass from country to country and thus, globalization is thus more easily imagined for its market-friendliness than it is for its human-oriented element. As the author quite rightly puts it, we have transitioned from “enlightened modernity to neoliberal modernity” (51). Despite discussions about the integration of Latin America with Europe, more than at any other time in their history, interculturality comes a distant second to the demands of the market.

Perhaps where García Canclini’s argument is most deft is in his consideration of art, literature and other audiovisual media and related platforms and how they are conceived of within the processes of globalization. The author keys in on the tensions between producers and distributors of more traditional forms of art and culture and the commercial firms that dominate the field symbolically; a public arena that is geared towards traditional cultural expressions and the multi-national conglomerates that hold sway over much of the communication processes. He makes the case that recent advances in technology, coupled with large economic investments driving mega art projects, music, TV and movies, have allowed little room for experimenting into arenas that do not lead to large profits. The author highlights the pressures that results from attempts to play by market rules, which only augments the asymmetries between producers and consumers of content, urban centers and rural peripheries; and despite a newfound emphasis on cultural diversity, the range of entertainment produced is always constrained by the drive for market expansion. His greatest concern is not that the growth and prominence of cultural industries in the age of globalization may standardize and make uniform the world’s diversity, but rather that it will lead to “the institutionalization of innovation, criticism and uncertainty” (136).

In the book’s last chapter, García Canclini reiterates his main argument, discussing the patchy and unbalanced distribution of the effects of globalization. García Canclini frames the “dual agenda of globalization,” (152) where worldwide financial systems and mass communication grow amid evermore unified markets and lowered political discrepancies, all the while, they work to reorder and reshuffle the unequal distribution of wealth and resources while not actually eliminating these unjust circumstances. The book closes with an epilogue, an interview that takes place in the fall of 2011 between the author and Toby Miller, which provides the reader García Canclini’s reflections on the events that have taken place since the book’s initial publication, as well as more current developments such as the rise of Asia, recent trends in reverse migration, the Occupy Wall street movement, Arab Spring, the Chilean student movement and the emerging rejection of globalization.

The strongest attribute of García Canclini’s work is found in his approach that decenters the long-standing Euro-American focus on globalization, while adding great nuance to debates that have long been characterized by social scientists who have either celebrated the grand accomplishments of globalization or crafted sweeping narratives of the suffering and violence wrought by globalization’s multiculturality. García Canclini creatively marshals autoethnographies,fictional scenarios, metaphors and cultural theorizing to compel the reader to consider global horizons broader than those imagined and channeled by the United States’ and Europe’s anthropological purview.

Dustin Welch García
University of Washington

Very well. I will finally read the book.


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Filed under Primary texts, Theories, Theories Bibliography

“Saving my strength for running”

I started being depressed on November 19, 1991 and may have stopped on April 3, 2019. That makes it less than 28 years. Most people I know have not known me that long. But the cause would have been deciding it was necessary to take Da Whiteman’s ideas seriously and the cure, realizing exactly how ridiculous they were and starting to laugh.

“They are paper tigers, fuck them all,” someone said years ago and I did not understand it, did not believe it, but the plot of the continuing melodrama, or mellow-drama here has given a Balzacian twist so forced as to lack verisimilitude, yet it is real and while everyone else wrung their hands I burst out laughing.

I’m saving my strength for running.


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Filed under Banes, Songs, What Is A Scholar?, Working

Aisha Finch, Forging race and nation

Forward by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, with essays by Reynaldo Ortiz and Matt Pettway, among others.


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Filed under Race book