Monthly Archives: November 2019

Today I thought I did nothing

And in fact I did little, but I did:

Decide I have done enough research for this paper, even if there are blind spots in my work, and I will just write it up and that is it, the heck with everything.

Definitively decide about my hedge: all I need for now are three Green Giant arborvitae.

Work on summer travel, which is important to do now. I believe I will fly United to CDMEX and stay there for ten days to two weeks, in that place in Coyoacán, and Delta to Guadalajara and stay there for one week to ten days.

IMPORTANT is that I will finish my paper BEFORE FINALS WEEK somehow. I will also NOT GIVE FINALS, except, perhaps, for one class – – I will find some way to end classes in the last week, which will allow me to breathe and go to N.O. to finish my paper, in case I need to do that.

If I play my cards right, I can fly United both times, using up my Frequent Flyer miles and enabling me to give up that credit card.


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That consular visit

Inviting a consul can go beyond a reception. It can be a community event with the Consul and her or his staff speaking to students and faculty, the local business community, immigrant organizations, and so on. A Consul can explain international trade, education abroad opportunities, food, and cultural exchanges … give a great deal of information to both university stakeholders and local communities more broadly.

Very well.


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Compulsory heterosexuality and alternative anthropophagy

I thought I was just puttering around, rereading Adrienne Rich because someone sent me that essay, and reading about Oswaldo Costa because this article popped up, but actually: they are for my paper.

Anzaldúa is a lesbian writer and following Rich, that is more important than her just being a defender of all supposedly “marginal” or “border” identities. (And I suppose I should give more respect to Mignolo’s “border thinking.”)

And Costa, apparently, has an actually counter-colonial form of anthropophagy. I will have to think about this again, reread the piece, but these are three interesting thoughts.

And as lagniappe: did you know Jameson was a Pérez Galdós fan?


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Filed under Bibliography, Borderlands, Theories, Theories Bibliography

Undergraduate and other research

Here’s a good list of things people undertaking research, need and should do:

1. have knowledge of what a research question is;
2. have basic subject knowledge in a chosen topic area, e.g., its major research questions;
3. develop a capacity for being interested in questions where the answer is nonobvious;
4. have the ability to inquire into one’s own core interests;
5. develop the project topic research question (with self-reflexivity and metacognition);
6. identify a thesis or hypothesis about the topic (one that is interesting and nonobvious);
7. plan the investigation (identify steps and continually revise methods);
8. organize research (including recording and sorting of conflicting information);
9. interpret research results (including results that are contradictory, disorganized, unsanctioned, or anomalous);
10. develop one’s analysis and narrative into a coherent narrative (gaps included);
11. publicly or socially present findings and respond to criticism;
12. have the ability to reformulate conclusions and narrative in response to new information and contexts; and
13. have the ability to fight opposition, to develop within institutions, and to negotiate with society.


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Filed under Resources, Teaching, What Is A Scholar?, Working

World literature, cosmopolitanism, globality

This book is open access and I am in love with that.

And I’ve got a co-translator now for that project, a powerful one, and a press says they’ll take the book. We have not yet seen the contract, but I suppose we will get one.

I got really mad at the university and envious of big professors who are reading books, so I decided I would ignore everything and read some books, too.

Down with drudgery.


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Filed under Borderlands, Uncategorized

An earlier work plan

(According to Reeducation, your baseline should be that you are too unhappy to function and your goal should be to function minimally nonetheless, or attain feelings of happiness, just for the day. Before Reeducation I did not think a great deal about happiness, although I was happy most of the time. If your baseline is that you just don’t worry about these things, you are feeling how you are feeling, or perhaps you aren’t questioning yourself so you are comfortable, then you can just do things.)

So I am to: finish the da Silva paper and write a new da Silva abstract. Then write the Sommer paper. Then finish the Anzaldúa paper. Then, within the year, resubmit Pedro’s poems and prepare and submit the Moro — if that press ever has a reading period, that is; otherwise, it may become important to find another. Even White Pine.

Da Silva. Let us start warming back to this topic by reading on her in review essays. I’ve got so many notes of my own already, but we will start with Benito Cao and Greg McCarthy, just so that I will de-intimidate myself. Some reasons I am interested in Da Silva: it’s a global theory, it explains why hybridity theory is part of racism, it takes gender into account, and it addresses what I’ve called “evoke and elide.”

Cao also talks about Telles; note that Portocarrero says the same of mestizaje and racismo (which is why it is suprising to see Anzaldúa still talking about mestizaje as a solution to racism):

In essence, Telles unpacks the apparent paradox of the coexistence of racism and hybridity by revealing how racial inclusion (produced by hybridity) and racialexclusion (produced by racism) coexist and complement each other in Brazil. Indeed, hybridity is not antithetical to racism as popular belief and ‘common sense’ might suggest. Instead, hybridity is the way racism operates in Brazil. Hybridity is the Brazilian contribution to the ‘global idea of race’ unearthed by the archaeological work of Denise Ferreira da Silva.

Cao on the chapter “Tropical Democracy”:

Da Silva offers a critical genealogy of the idea of race and of the emergence of European man as a deeply racial/ised subject. She reveals how European man came to see himself as the transcendental Subject of History, the carrier of the Spirit of Humanity, of (Universal) Reason, whilst seeing non-Europeans as the exterior and inferior Objects of History or peoples without history, to borrow from Eric Wolf (1982). This deeply racially inscribed subject, European man, used skin colour as the key to determine who could and could not be civilised, categorising and determining the fate of peoples encountered in the five centuries of exploration and imperial expansion across the globe. The result was often the (re)creation of a new political formation, the nation-state, deeply inflected by racial discourses, as was the case of Brazil. The configuration of race was encrypted in Brazilian identity through miscegenation, namely the inter-mingling of Indians, Europeans, and Africans. However, as da Silva notes, the process (and representation) of miscegenation was driven primarily by the (sexual) desires of European man, projected onto the bodies (racially inscribed as red and black, respectively) of Indian and African women. Thus, the so-called racial democracy would be more aptly described as a racist (and patriarchal) hierarchy, with Luso-Brazilian men at the top and Afro-Brazilian women at the bottom. This is a seemingly straight-forward conclusion, but da Silva offers an insightful genealogical analysis of how that hierarchy was formulated and came to be seen as the natural state of (racial) affairs in Brazil. In particular, she provides a philosophical account of how gender and sexual desire were crucial in the formation and formulation of the myth of racial democracy. She examines statements deployed between the 1880s and the 1930s to show how miscegenation was formulated using <strong>‘the logic of obliteration’, a logic designed to engulf and ultimately destroy the Other,</strong> producing the Brazilian national subject as a transparent ‘I’. Miscegenation was rewritten as ‘‘an eschatological signifier’’ that would result not in the ‘‘degeneration’’ of the European but in <strong>the obliteration of the Indian and the African from Brazilian bodies and minds’</strong> (p. 238). Crucially, she notes how in this formulation of race and nation ‘the productive power, the‘‘inner force’’, belongs to the Portuguese because their ‘‘inclination’’ to sexual intimacy produces the slightly tanned Brazilian subject’ (p. 244). In essence, da Silva reveals the workings of miscegenation as ‘a process of productive violence’, a racialised and gendered process that produces a ‘slightly (tanned) transparent subject’: the Brazilian. This arguably genocidal violence that underpins the articulation of miscegenation in Brazil had been already exposed and denounced, notably by Abdias do Nascimento in <em>O Genocídio do Negro Brasileiro</em> (1978), but da Silva’s analysis is the first systematic and philosophical articulation of this argument available in English. Given the mystique of Brazilian hybridity (especially outside of Brazil), this chapter is a must read for anyone interested in matters of race in Brazil, and for anyone interested in the intricacies of miscegenation in the construction of national identities.

In the meantime, MURPHY’s run-down is good and key is that da Silva is following Foucault, so perhaps what one may not like about Foucault is also in da Silva.

Re Anzaldúa: the proposal of hybridity as solution if you are familiar with the relationship between mestizaje and racism. To whom is Anzaldúa speaking, and where is she speaking from ? It is the US side of the border. She’s resisting the Anglophone monolith, she’s the difference within, THIS is the interesting key to her (cf. the conversation on Goethe’s Yiddish background, and so on). So: the minor voice, what goes against the grain . . .

Back to Da Silva and the modernity thesis. Of course Dussell has pointed out the colonialist tropes in Hegel, etc., with juicy quotations.

Greg McCarthy’s summary of Da Silva is better than mine, for its concision. <em>Note that Da Silva can help with Anzaldúa too.</em>

My thesis for paper #1 is that the evoke-and-elide movement in the 19th century novels is enacting or dramatizing the move Da Silva describes (the engulfment); <em>there is no way out</em> in the modern paradigm. Moving on to Anzaldúa: it is possible that she (and decoloniality generally) are trying to be the resistance to this, the path out of it. The question becomes how well does this theory or does Anzaldúa in particular do it.

We shall see.


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Para una clase de cultura más avanzada

If I think it should be a junior level course, it should be senior / early graduate. This one would be on monuments. Each monument studied would lead to the study of many related things, and one would study their processes of fetichization (I have not worked this out very well yet). Some of the monuments are musical, and some are literary.

1/ Macchu Picchu, study of, fetichization of, nature of, implications of, history of; here we will also study Cusco.

2/ Martí, “Nuestra América.”

3/ Toledo.

4/ Tlatelolco.

5/ Plaza de Mayo.

6/ Cuban son.

8/ 100 años de soledad.

What else, or is this enough?


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Filed under Teaching, What Is A Scholar?, Working

Martí and Lorca in New York

That is a class one could give, and discuss modernity. Or it could be a broader course, with Baudelaire in Paris, and more: writers in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Petrograd.

Maybe I can make all my courses like this now.


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Things I learned at a conference

I was only there for 8 hours. It was a bright fall day on a pretty campus, where people are present and energetic. I want to read Poétique de la relation and find out what a dépassement is. I had an illuminating discussion with someone at a parallel institution in a state next door. She talked about the disadvantages of going R-1 without actually being R-1; about the authoritarian and top-down structure of our universities; about how different it had been to be at a similar university in Michigan; about how she is not the favorite of her chair and here there is no solidarity; each of is is all alone.

I learned that the rhetoric on the abuse of ICE detainees is the rhetoric of all abuse: look what you made me do to you. If you just hadn’t crossed that border, when I had told you not to . . .

I learned about Ignacio Ramírez and Monsiváis’ work on him (this is interesting and I’d really like to read the article). I learned why I should really read Radiografía de la Pampa.

I learned more about decoloniality (it is an otro saber and it comes from within L.A., not from without like postcolonial studies; I am not the only one who finds its subjectivism limiting).  I learned it is important to go back and read the texts I am interested in as attempts at [founding other modernities].

I was reminded that racialization is key not just in modernity but in the nation-state.


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Filed under Race book