Monthly Archives: July 2019

The common good

We don’t know, of course, if anyone believes in the common good, or the public good any more, but here are some fragmentary notes from a conversation we had.

1. We should talk much more about research. In class. College has to become more interesting – we cannot allow it to be further redefined as rote credentialing. We need research at lower levels.

2. We need a description of the “academy” from an academic point of view. Everyone else is saying what college should be but what do we say?

3. If the university is a public good, it should be supported by public revenues – not special interests.

4. As a public good, the university has non-pecuniary benefits, and these have value even if it is not measured in gold.

5. The liberal arts – intellectual discipline, intellectual agenda, sets intellectual agendas.


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Ancient notes, I think from a conference 20 years ago, that I kept and kept. What did they say and why did I keep them?

Postmodernism as grand récit flattens out the complexities of Latin American modernism, which had postmodern characteristics and also more, it was more complex. It tries to articulate national and continental modernities from the point of view of a mobile subject.

It looks at itself from Europe and from “America,” and that America is itself fissured. Vallejo’s clear view of fissures in his own identity (and identity itself?) comes from his being from a fissured place. Despite his attempts at creating monumental art, he always ends up emphasizing the fissure.

* Somewhere in PH he refers to Peru as undigested matter
* He was interested in the contingent self – formations from nothingness – not the questioning of an already formed transcendental subject [this was what I used to claim, it was my key idea, and it is something that really needs research and substantiation, that I think exists]
* He was serious about Peruvianness as part of this identity — it is not just something he writes about in his prose to be “PC” or follow current fashion [again, this is something that really needs investigation]
* Peruvian modernity as an “idea out of place”
* Berman, modernism as reaction to modernity – and note Vallejo has been written on with Berman in mind; modernity in Peru had not been realized; note authoritarianism of Peru, combined and uneven development.
* Mariátegui talked about how to modernize and whom to include in modernization; this is important.
* Revista Mundial; Leguía; Revista Peruana, Mercurio Peruano, Amauta
There were two vanguardias: the international and the indigenista one. Los heraldos negros does both
* See the revista Anunciación and the writer César Atahualpa Rodríguez, of Arequipa

And we have a few more notes, before I end this round of mind-watering and start seriously writing. I always get really nostalgic when I see my notes, the research I was so interested in but that was to be done by the self I was so alienated from. Here are some notes on that, from a conversation with Quinn. I wish I could reconstruct more of them, and I do not fully understand what I have. They say, or Quinn said:

– I have trouble working because the environment feels so oppressive.
– Work is what I want but it is also a PTSD trigger.
– I was taught to catastrophize and THAT is a PTSD trigger, too.
– Anxiety and so on are, or are results of brain trauma. Think again about PTSD, complex PTSD. (Think of that serious-comic video we were watching.)
– This university gaslights you, makes you doubt reality or your reality; they’re outright mean, denying rights and projecting low motives into everyone
– Again, always de-catastrophize.
– Again, it is hard to concentrate due to the oppressive atmosphere and the PTSD triggers; these things lead to EXECUTIVE DYSFUNCTION
– Executive dysfunction: “If I experience this, if I have these feelings, I will die”
– Dissociating because of this
– The self-deprecating humor of people from the margins is actually humiliation, and it is something people do to get permission to speak
– But actually, nobody has the right to treat anyone poorly
– I have been in so much pain so many days, and under so much pressure / feeling as though there were nowhere to turn
– When you soak a child in shame they cannot develop the neural pathways that lead to self-worth
– According Robert Scaer (trauma expert and neuroscientist), “trauma is any life stress that occurs in a state of helplessness.” [Source]
– I was taught you should succumb to [negativity] to prove you “were not numb” (which was a sin) but that was WRONG. You should stand up for yourself, care for and about yourself, believe in yourself, NOT allow destruction to colonize you.

Clorinda Matto REALLY believes in periodismo – believes in immigration and ANSINA – in sending Italians to Peru – because the Chinese are “enfermizos” whereas the Italians are part of the “raza latina.” The Italians came about 1840 because of the guano boom, GARIBALDI the nationalist arrived about 1852.

Matto favors professional education for women because it improves their lives and also makes marriage something other than prostitution. She points out that 60% of women are not mothers or wives (very interesting figure). AND she is against centralismo limeño. She talks about women as speaking subjects, not only objects of contemplation or study.

El Perú ilustrado and the ambiguous, or ambivalent discourse of progress. See also Gargurevich. Meanwhile González Prada, after the war with Chile, said the real Peru was the Indians. This, together with Matto’s turn to indigenismo, is a major shift. Matto, here and elsewhere, was interested in creating a national literature that did not follow European models — she was looking to PERUANIZAR EL PERU — and she looks back to Manco Cápac and people of that era. She believes in the press as a venue for this ideological work, and also that literature and commerce support each other.

W.E.B. DuBois wanted African-Americans to fight for their rights as a race – he believed in this U.S. idea of differences between people and cultures, but equality of opportunity and rights. I.E.: you did not have to be of one race and culture to have equal rights. That is, he thought black culture, African culture, were real. That may not be as clear in Brazil.

I have quite a few heavily marked pages from an old LARR article that is interesting, and seems to be a review essay; what I was marking about: when Brazil was advertising itself as inclusive and a racial democracy, it did not just have “informal racism” that enforced discrimination although not officially. There were very apparent patterns of state-sponsored exclusion during the 1st Republic. There’s a collection of essays, called Race, Science and Society (in Portuguese), edited by Maio and Santos, on these racial politics. Whitening was state policy. THERE WAS STATE POLICY. Another book, The Spectacle of the Races, is really important on this. And there is Hendrik Kraay’s collection of essays on Afro-Brazilian Culture and Politcs in Bahia, that ALSO indicates how much work the state did as guardian of inequality. This article also has some useful criticisms of F. W. Twine’s work, and the general takeaway is that research at the time this piece was written focuses on HOW discrimination operated (it had moved on from just showing, having to show that it had been there).

I know typing this looks like a form of procrastination but I don’t think it is really. I have to recover all the things I was thinking of, soak them back into me. Also: during this period I kept stopping work because I was so discouraged about self and life but the answer to that is to recover self-respect and keep on working. WHY was it in fashion to let detractors take one over? It was a bad fashion.

There is an R. Rosello article in Paragraph 18 (1) (1995), “Practices of Hybridity” that was worth looking it, talking about hybridity as a “beyond” space — I was interested in going beyond that idea. And there was Cornejo Polar, on the novela indigenista and hybridity. The novela indigenista had heterogeneity of elements; socio-cultural space de índole desigual y conflictiva. Mariátegui talked about the carácter no orgánicamente nacional de la literatura peruana, stemming from the language dualism, Quechua/Spanish. The real maraviolloso is also indigenista, about the cruce conflictivo de dos sociedades and dos culturas.

Un universo dividido: Peru was capitalist and also feudal, since inside production it was feudal even though the exterior was capitalist; there was also the interpenetration of Indian and white customs (cf. Arguedas). The dyad indianismo/indigenismo presupposes a dualidad indio/metrópoli — unlike González Prada, M. does NOT say the “true Peru”is Indian. Leguía’s indigenismo posited the indios puros as symbols; Cornejo likes Rama. M.’s indigenismo is progressive; heterogeneidad social is class struggle and indigenismo itself is heterogeneous as well as being about cultural heterogeneity (as we know, heterogeneity is distinguished from mestizaje). Also: cultural nationalismo is about returning to [“true” and unitary] roots.

Indigenista discourse presupposes a difference between the producers of the said discourse and those represented in it; this difference is determined societally and culturally. So again, indigenismo itself is heterogeneous and demonstrates the heterogeneity of the carácter nacional.


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The BRASA deadline is extended to September 1, Gott sei Dank, and I have to double-check the situation with LASA. I’d like to go to both just to see papers, and maybe I should even if I don’t get in or don’t make the submission deadlines. In the meantime, here are some of my old notes on race; I have not worked consistently enough since my disaster and that is why I have all these fragments I am trying to sew together.

From an ERIP conversation: there are intra-regional processes of racialization and they are becoming more and not less severe (se están agudizando); lo racial sí importa para la desigualdad, y se articula en otros procesos. Es efecto de las reformas neoliberales, que SON colonización. Y no ‘sicológico’ – sino técnica de poder.

The mestizo project of the 20s and 30s was also anti-Chinese! They were coming in and needed to be defined out of national character! Blackness in Mexico is invisible, or invisibilized as well, and the mestizaje project was about official inclusion and actual exclusion. It is ALSO about modernización e igualación social.

Also: mestizaje might be anticolonial, but it isn’t antiracist! Review Gamio, Forjando patria, his ideas of mestizaje. Also Moisés Saenz 1919, his idea of “ethno-races,” and El proceso de aculturación, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán 1957. And it was under the influence of FRANZ BOAS that “se dejó de hablar de raza en México.”

PROCESSES OF RACIALIZATION (that is key for F. da Silva). And: difference does not create inequality. You create race by recoding culture as biology. Racialization is NOT residuo colonial (and it is getting stronger now with neoliberalization). It is part of the structure of the CURRENT COLONIAL SITUATION, or a structuring part of it.

Racialization manipulates stereotypes, but to speak of race involves much more than classifying phenotypes. DA SILVA is talking about how race is produced. RACE is a concequence of RACIALIZATION, and not the opposite. El racismo surge de la política, y es herramienta.

Race as concept is preserved by the refusal to discuss racism.


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Modernity/coloniality and race

On these issues: it seems that despite Catherine the Great’s reservations about serfdom, serfdom rose in the 18th century due to her modernization projects. Modern projects, modern ideas on liberty, AND more serf work needed, all at the same time. Modernity rises, coloniality rises. This is interesting; people do not realize how the serfs were really like slaves (they were NOT attached to land and COULD be sold away) by this period — and the Russians managed to define them as lesser without racializing — or did they find a way to racialize?

Also on these issues: the Holocaust, and sterilization experiments. The stated goal was to extinguish bloodlines; eugenics had been popular in Latin America earlier on; in novels even earlier there seems to be this motif, let’s extinguish our darker bloodlines. The possible mixed babies are evaded, prevented, not had, die.


Translatlantic Quechuañol: see the abstract. That argument is not needed for mine but her point on Nebrija is interesting: he may have hoped language would Hispanize and create empire, but there was covert resistance to this as well as the overt resistance Piedra discusses in my favorite article. Meanwhile, there is an interesting discussion of castas and note that Restall, among others say you must be careful not to project the 19th century ideologies of race that underpinned imperialism and slavery then, back to the 16-18th centuries. To talk about race in this earlier period, we need a different vocabulary. NOTE the information here about lineage, and the way character and also knowledge was communicated through breastfeeding.

Color terms, or what appeared to be color terms, used to sort ore got transferred to racial categories. And as Mignolo points out, in the transition from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment French replaced Spanish as a knowledge-producing language. From there English and German became the languages in which races were sorted, and they used the older metal-sorting vocabulary without fully realizing how it had worked. Readings of race were preserved in translation and Indigenous knowledge was translated out.

…This is a wild article but not something I really need right now. Key takeaway: the extreme complexity of all of this; the indigenous and local contributions to all of this. My doubts re Ferreira da Silva have to do with what seems to me to be the Eurocentrism of her model: Descartes did it, the Enlightenment did it, everything that happened comes from European thought. Am I right here?



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Des feuilles

I am still going through my files and it is shocking – so many quite good and almost finished papers I set aside, or that got swept aside in one storm or another.

I have the Racial Order book, which is focused on the U.S. It talks about field theory (Bourdieu). Can race be a field? Like class, a field is “not a thing” — it is a set of relations, a set of overdeterminations; the field concept and formation theory have much in common.

There is someone called Kim Schneider who has written on the tragic mulata and the tragic muse, the mulata and the Jewess; I must look this up.

Subalterns used the language of rights to promote their inclusion in nation states, and Toussaint used the concept of rights — although he soon learned he was on the other side of modernity (his experience is a good example of the modernity/coloniality dyad). In the late 19th century the concept of RIGHTS collapses as Western industrial modernity becomes dominant.

***Completely different: if the student is customer and the faculty employee, what is civil society? Other vocabulary words: students are learners and faculty are customer service. But do people actually want to reject the neoliberal model? It is not just a question of whether we will have academic freedom and shared governance, but whether we will have a critical university and a democratic one. What about the patron-client relationships here: everything is Can I trust you? and Do I like you? What about mendacity, irrationality, incompetence — what if the actions of the administration are fraudulent, dishonest, manipulative?


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Ideologies of Hispanism (more notes to frame Cecilia and plaçage) … these 13 points are a fairly good blocking out

FACE YOUR FEARS [I am transcribing these notes to avoid doing that, but it isn’t a bad form of procrastination as it is helping me get something else necessary done].

ALSO REMEMBER: Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II was a Confederate ally who had sheltered and supplied Southern ships during the Civil War. Then he offered land to the Confederados for as little as 22 cents an acre, subsidized their transport to Brazil, provided temporary lodging, promised quick citizenship and sometimes greeted them in person as they disembarked.

AND: Passing is subversive because you are not staying “in your place;” authenticity meant what exactly? having a knowable, “legitimate,” revealable class/race/family?

1/ I am interested in state policies and national myths.

2/ CV is a quadroon story that deploys the plaçage myth, which is a Haitian trope.

3. Focus on plaçage: it is deployed so as to claim that interracial relationships only take place in N.O., which will contain them (this is Emily Clark’s suggestion); so as to deflect attention from the actual fear which is of Haitian men (Clark).

4. CV is, or is said to be, the Cuban national novel. People identify with Cecilia, who is mixed, confused, and is also a girl who should be white. But the topic of the novel is actually the fear of Cecilia and its project is to contain her. It is anticolonial but also white supremacist and patriarchal.

5. As R. Lazo poits out, it’s also a product of New York. But as we note, it is also a product of Haitian and N.O. myths of the quadroon. So what is Cuban / U.S. / Latin American literature? None of it actually refers to nations, but to regions; all of it is transnational.

6. It is a counter-discourse to 19th century racial republicanism: the state is unable to produce a nation!

7. I need to look up Werner Sollors and Sibilla Fisher, still, on incest and miscegenation. Mulataje means NO OFFSPRING and yet Cecilia produces a baby (more or less).

8. Villaverde himself had to get a certificate of whiteness to be able to study, which is a good lead-in always; the entire society was so concerned to preserve certain venues for the truly white that this was necessary.

9. Novels to look for: Petronio y Rosalía; La cuarterona; Si haces mal, no esperes bien.

10. Lazo: CV is a hemispheric text and IS aware of its genre. Note that there were other hemispheric novels produced in Philadelphia. It was also written as the nation-state model was coming into crisis: these are counter discourses to previous foundational novels such as those by Mármol and Blest Gana that did not deal with race

11. Contra Doris Sommer, who talks about mestizaje and nation (the letrado discourse), I am interested in race and state. (Marilyn thinks this distinction does not hold up but I think it does.)

12. What do mestizos do: (a) confound racial discourse and be dangerous for that reason, or (b) join with blancos against indios? Is mestizaje a strategy of inclusion, or containment, or both? I think Sommer, con su elogio del mestizaje y de la nación, simplifies everything: her book is about why nations cannot be founded. And I think Anzaldúa, writing more or less in the same period as Sommer and in the same country, falls into the same error; I am not convinced by “hybridity” OR “decoloniality” as a solution

13. Also: in the period in which these ANTI mestizaje novels were written, Afro-descendants were making scary political strides. So: CV, the novel, is declaring earlier models for alliances unviable. At this point these narratives are raising more questions than they answer, and are talking about the failure of Independence (civil war, international war) societies and not the optimism of newborn, forward looking nations.


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That postmodern subject of PASSING

This is an old article I had kept to think about subjectivity in Anzaldúa and also Vallejo. It’s outmoded now, but some of the points are still valid, on the precariousness of identity and subject positions. Having no secure position to which to return distinguishes “passing” from “passing as,” she says. “Passing” is like Morrison’s “becoming” — entering what one is estranged from, reconsidering the self one has long thought one’s own. We want to NOT resurrect the humanist subject. If we do, we all have to be either confessional – “authentic”, or fraudulent. Instead, we should keep the provisional nature of every “I” firmly in mind … because the humanist subject is NOT the solution to the cultural problematic that places us all in the position of having to pass.

There is something suggestive here, too, about Cecilia Valdés: you cannot pass as a mother.


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“This thing of darkness” (more for Ferreira da Silva)

I have been working on this whole thing for so long that it is disheartening, but I have to make PROGRESS this time. I am finding so many notes, so many half-done things.

Anyway, I am digging it all out.  I will remember that article on Schwarz, the phrase “the most specific feature of Brazilian society (and, by extension, its culture) is to be permanently maladjusted with respect to itself, precisely because of its peripheral-capitalistic character.” [To say that you have to explain dependency theory, though.]

Caliban: “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine,” said Prospero, who had exiled Sycorax. (Note: she was from Algiers, whence she had arrived already pregnant with Caliban.)

In one very old series of notes I am *also* talking about Telles and Lim (Demography 1998) – it seems this article was seminal for me. Telles was a good support of counter-argument on Sansone. Degler’s “mulatto escape hatch” doesn’t exist in Brazil, for instance, but does in the U.S. Wade: mestizo, in Lat. Am., is included in white; Indian and black, and to a large extent mulatto, is nonwhite [so it IS still a binary system, as long as you don’t take “white” literally]. I am also talking about Pontocorvo and Portocarrero in these notes / this paper. Here I also have notes on Burdick (black movements) and the brilliant John D. French paper — on how so many are still hostage to the Freyrean Brazil / U.S. contrast.

Schwarz, and work elaborating on him, can help counter Brazilian exceptionalism, because of the “misplaced ideas.” Ferreira da Silva, in an early piece and others say Winant has ethocentric universality, projects the U.S. case (as though there were only one U.S. case) on everyone, but does he? F. da S., Sheriff, and so many keep saying blackness is different in Brazil, and racism is different, but it is as though they were saying this to stop the discussion, not to explain how those differences work, I feel.
(I’ve recycled the Sansone notes and I am calling that progress — I will have to reread him if I need him; the thing about him is that he wants to get rid of “ethnicity,” I think he means get rid of the possibility of “seeing race” and I don’t think that is possible.)

And then: I took notes on Jorge Domínguez’ old essay and must look up his work. Key: the racial order of the Spanish empire was less extreme in some ways, than the Latin American one. In Venezuela, for instance, royalist troops were integrated, but insurgent ones were not; Bolívar, in the earlier years of the war, made amazingly racist statements.

Was “Independence” independence, or rather a series of civil and international wars? The unrest of the 1810-1860 period had long-term consequences that are a legacy of these processes. Another legacy is the problem of identity: the question is how to make patriots out of the royalists? A third legacy is the RESTORATION of a racial order. Many had called themselves patriots, yet defended slavery or segregation, and the white elites manage to reestablish Gramscian hegemony in matters of race. That is what I think these novels are about.

*Remember Toussaint and the limits of modernity*

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The neoliberalization

Who said it? Market incentives lower the value of college to both individuals and the public. Defunding chips away at both the public good and the private benefits to students. Faculty should unite on the concept of public good, and senior administrators should articulate it. Privatization has a price (and is not an improvement).


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Things to fit in

What modernity WAS in the nineteenth century WAS IN QUESTION. In Latin America, new policies were reducing democracy, around the same time as Jim Crow came in in the U.S. Sanders (Vanguard of the Atlantic world) says “Latin American republican modernity” arose in the 1840s – republican projects with citizens’ rights. This enabled subalterns to use the language of rights to promote their inclusion in the nation-state. This collapsed in the late 19C as Western nations become dominant, and was defeated by Western industrial modernity (see Taylor 2004, say my notes).

RACE FUSION was claimed in Mexico in 1868, and there were claims that race did not exist (were they Martí-like?). Vasconcelos was anti-colonial but only selectively de-colonial.

HOOKER on Latin American subaltern philosophy: European traditions, but must account for other things.

Relationship to: *scientific racism, *progress, modernization, whitening, *postcolonial statehood, *multiracial democracy — they are juggling all of these things and trying to create a valid nonwhite subject in the context of white supremacy … when philosophy was about how to INVALIDATE the nonwhite subject and theorize racial difference. This leads to all this ambivalence and shifting. The actual “Latin American subject” (if there is only one) is one that negotiates this. (Cf. notes on Sommer paper, that leads to da Silva — in my file on the red table — there is good writing there and I can use some of the ideas for this paper).

Key: This book, The racial order. I have a copy of it. The authors point out that WORK ON RACE IS EMPIRICALLY RICH AND THEORETICALLY THIN (that is very true in Lat. Am.) They say there has never been a systematic and comprehensive thoery of race, and they have one; by “theoretically thin” they mean theoretical presuppositions go unexamined. What is the connection between racial domination and race per se? They talk about race as FIELD [Bourdieu].

Wallerstein [and Mignolo] are other people to think of here.


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