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.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s