Monthly Archives: September 2019

Things I found.

Another smart text by Rolando Pérez. This one is about Martí and New York.

One Laura Posternak has written the article I said I would, and then gone on to use it as the first chapter of a thesis.

I will find as many reviews / discussions / critiques of Sommer as I can, and I will reread Ramos’ book. And Posternak is using all the bibliography I should have better control of just to make this small point I am making — unless I do not need to make it so fully.


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A different set of notes

Honestly, one’s research life is the correction of the errors and gaps in one’s graduate education, and that is it. All my smart ideas then are smart now, but I have to get rid of these files.

My ideas were naïvely put but still right. I said the dissolution of identity might seem like a radical gesture in France, it wasn’t in Latin America, where the project was to find it. And finding it was not a process of maturation (Bello) or a voyage to reified, fetichized autocthonous roots, but creating it from the interstices of pre-existing cultures. People like Rodó and then Larrea thought that meant a synthesis, but it meant a struggle; mestizaje is a field of struggle.

Oswald’s (Mario’s?) utopian past is the S. Paulo of the coffee farms. See also Sandroni 51, the affirmation of Brazilian difference is made via the mediation of the “universal” which is European. There was a FRANTIC investigtion of Brazilian reality in this period and Jean Franco says they were quoting (or she quotes) von Martius. The “true” Brazil — regionalists also said they had it

Franco: note that the desire for revitalization of national culture is NOT necessarily the desire for social revolution … and the culture envisioned is that of the modern city, not of the backlands. Note that I was already reading Cornejo on heterogeneity and remarking that the heterogeneity was in the texts, the place; it is not “heterogeneity” that is proposed as a solution (the way mestizaje is).

1/ Why did antropofagia become so popular again in the 70s, under the military dictatorship? 2/ Primitivismo has a great deal to do with indianismo and the renewal of strong blood for Europe. 3/ Fetichized heterogeneity. 4/ ANTROPOFAGIA AS COLONIAL SEMIOSIS.

That is interesting and the idea of colonial semiosis, mestizaje and colonial semiosis, all of these things, I want to come back to. (I am reading old articles now, written before Re-education, and MY GOD THEY ARE GOOD.)

5/ Modernismo was to modernize Brazil (and was not the Berman-esque reaction to modernity). The Indian world as a metaphor for present and future options, not as a discussion of the actual Indian world. The technicalized savage, the modern man in charge of a machine.

SO: my work was wonderful and I cannot believe I stopped doing it. Stopped believing in it.


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My old dissertation/book

I am not sure where to put this but it was on paper / in a dream and it seemed important at the time I wrote it because I could at least think about it clearly. It isn’t new at all.

It said: Vallejo is hard to read because there is no centered subject to guide us and no clear story to follow — he is undoing the transcendental subject and undoing representation. But at the same time he is refuting dehumanization and fomenting ethical self-awareness and engagement with others.

I had intuitions in those days, mixed with visceral reactions that had little to do with school.



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Old notes on another topic

This was part II of the first organizing workshop, and it was on positive messaging. [Avoid getting caught in manipulative tactics because you are trying to understand (and also trying to create bridges, get along).]

  1. Get a good marketing firm, they said, and know what messages you want to put out.
  2. Create a site like CSU Connects — an alternative to an organ like La Louisiane. They have it for every campus. The stories on the site would also go out to a PR wire service, and posts would be promoted on Facebook.
  3. Remember you are always selling your story, not your organization.
  4. Monday morning is a good time to get things into the paper.
  5. Bring stories to life with visual elements.
  6. Tie events you may hold to the current calendar or a current issue.
  7. Choose and train spokespeople, and choose them well, they must be animated.
  8. Even if you are complaining, remain positive: emphasize positive goals.
  9. Write and publish my article (the language and … article) in the CHE.
  10. Events and campus commitments to support them — educational events, consciousness raising events.
  11. Letters to all new faculty.
  12. Labor day social.
  13. Orientation packet.
  14. Reception after orientation.
  15. Problems we have: hostility, demoralization, fragmentation.
  16. The message is always that you are supporting students, faculty and the educational mission of the university.

I really doubt anyone else would lift a finger to start something like this and also it presupposes such a different political culture. But there is an organizing plan, or a good part of one.


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La montagne

…I’ll get into really good shape and have a camera. Things I know I don’t own are a tent and a mat. Things I now realize I should own are a hat and more of the right kinds of hiking pants and shirts. And bento boxes. And poles. I am not going to acquire all of these things at once but I want to be a mountaineer again and I need equipment now. I want Vibram soles too, although I suspect I fetishize these.


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Free write for that next version

Situate F da S in CRS and decolonialidad (and other currents).

Useful: scene of engulfment / transcendental poesis – explains creation of L.A. subject but also – more interestingly – repetition of EVOKE AND ELIDE [does this have other contributing factors?]

Problems: blaming the enlightenment, vague decoloniality as solution.

Advantages: global problem, global analysis, with local specificity [allows me to talk about race in Brazil, for instance].

Pero vaya, this needs work.


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More from that notebook

1/ Lott: hairsplitting accounting for differences is not interesting if these differences are not politically charged. Hollinger: racial mixture will fix racism! He replicates Myrdal’s liberalism: US is democratic but flawed, can be fixed, have progress. Guimarães: racial democracy is an incomplete project. Me: postethnic projects substitute normative mestizaje for the earlier normative whiteness. Hollinger wants blackness to be transcended — but AA culture is FUNDAMENTAL to US, not marginal, not something to rub out.

2/ Reconceptualizing ethnicity is pointless if you are not talking also about power and privilege; Hollinger repeats the error of multiculturalism by ignoring the question of class. The “apolitics of complexity” is an avoidance strategy! Michaels’ book OUR AMERICA says that to discuss racism is to perpetuate it, and Hollinger innocently thinks we should think about cultural and not racial identity (he is so reinventing so many wheels, his lack of historical knowledge is amazing).

3/ José Carlos Luciano has a 2002 book on Afro-Peruvians. It says the trauma of slavery has not been broken, and continues to be reproduced. There is a writer Valdés, who was also a doctor and a member of cabildo of Lima; had to make a special petition to the King to be allowed to study and graduate; discussed by Menéndez y Pelayo, José de la Riva Agüero, L. A. Sánchez, and also Cornejo Polar and González Vigil. His religious poetry is praised and his work on patriotism and the nation is not discussed as much; see his 1848 novel El padre Horán, Gothic, anti-clerical, and with implied incest in it. Mbare N’gom 2004 has written on him and says his 1818 Poesías espirituales were one of the first afrodescendiente texts. [I HAVE TO CHECK ALL OF THESE FACTS – my notes are hard to read.]

4/ My paper then: ethnic movements provide critiques of standard “American” values. The critique of the dominant modernity proposed in Ariel and Nuestra América is continued in Freyre and Vasconcelos; liberal US multiculturalism (and some civil rights discourse) make similar gestures and have similar errors and blind spots. Racism is constitutive of identity from the 16th century on … race in America is assigned to phenotypes … cf. Las Casas, Sepúlveda; at the same time Spanish and Portuguese became racial identies; race was invented to legitimate colonization. With the decisions made after the rebellion of Túpac Amaru racism gets worse; institutions punish race but also reward correct racial behavior. MATALINARES said it was a bad idea to have a republic of Spaniards and one of Indians; it was unstable; a single nation was needed to prevent a constant civil war.

5/ With Independence, and the Cortes de Cádiz, the castas did NOT get suffrage; the idea of nation and patria change. Different groups, also, imagine the nation differently and mean different things when they invoke it. Mariano Melgar: “unión y mande el digno,” says the “gato manchado (indio/mestizo). Cecilia Méndez: “Incas sí, indios no.”

6/ Holguín: La posguerra del Pacífico: before, the Indian was good but oppressed and weak; afterward, he was considered a patriot and a good soldier. There were 2M Indians at this point. G. Prada discusses this change in perception in “Nuestros Indios.” Palma has a famous letter about how Indians were cowards. Clorinda? or López Albújar has a poem about an Indian licenciado and veteran distressed to see the ruins of his house after the Chilean victory. All of this is part of the progressive incorpration of the Indian.

7/ Doris Lessing, The grass is singing. Whiteness means LEARNING how to perceive races in the “right” way and act accordingly. And has to be protected by separation. (In Lat. Am., as we know, it’s whites-and-mestizos.) PATRICIA FOX says separating race and culture is a bad thing: it is done to transfer cultural capital upward, i.e. to white people. (NOTE that this is how Cajunization works!)

8/ Back to Sansone. Robin Sheriff’s review was the only one I read that says anything critical — she says his is a “familiar and conservative” voice. He defines ethnicity as a militant investment in identity politics and is terrified of that. (I had more notes here, on different implications of “culturalizing” race, referring to remarks by Marisol, Winant, and Karen M.). My interest is in strategies of denial, ways of driving racism underground; I note that while racial meaning may be formed in different ways, racist practices and strategies of denial of these are remarkably uniform. Lessing’s character’s “You just have to get used to the country” is what was said to me in Bahia, for instance.

9/ People keep saying Winant is uncareful and essentializing. I don’t see it. He says race is a fundamental organizing principle in 20th century politics, a significant dimension of hegemony; I do not see how that is essentializing. He also says mestizaje boosting is an apologetics for racism, and the calls to racelessness are attractive to whites when blackness gets too strong.

10/ Let’s look at DuBois’ double consciousness, always looking at yourself through others’ eyes (also important for my piece on Veloso and Bahia). I said that Guillén’s ambivalence was double-voiced: split subjectivity, consciousness always mediated; what possibilities does this offer for political action? Ambivalence, splitting, resistance, critique. Again: see Winant on midcentury liberals wanting to culturalize race. It is important (I think) because, it seems, cultural recognition and affirmation were supposed to tke the place of remedying inequality (I need to check on this; there is a LOT of work on it).

11/ When Martí said there were no races: were there others who said this? Or was he just saying that in Our America, his ideal America, there shouldn’t be racism/race?

12/ Sansone: the book appears in English with an introduction by Paul Gilroy, and revives the mestizaje idea. it is mainly an anti MNU / anti global black activism book. It reiterates a lot of truisms and myths, including on the fluidity of race in Latin places but mainly the idea combat racism it is best to not INCLUDE people in the categories corresponding to the lowest strata. I wanted, when I composed this presentation, to plead with people to stop going for the postethnic ideal — the liberal common sense — and move to a transnational study of race and nation. (THIS IS A 2004 PAPER BY ME, and if I’d actually published it, it would have been much cited.)

13/ Sansone and Hollinger both evoke and elide difference: it is a strategy to evade discussion of racism and marginalize racialized others, keep them from speaking. And Sansone’s comparisons are odd (he is being transnational, but with odd choices) — the comparisons to Bahia I’d make would be Havana, Lima, Cartagena, New Orleans, Charleston, Haiti — the Afro-Latin places.

–Da Silva is trying to enable rigorous transnational study of race and nation. My disagreement, really, is with saddling the Enlightenment with all of this, and it’s a disagreement not just with Da Silva. THIS is where my research should push, it seems, for various projects.


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