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.