For Anzaldúa and JALLA

For ages I kept around this essay by Linda Gordon, from Dissent (Spring 1999, 41-47), called “The trouble with difference.” As she notes, it follows on a piece of hers in Genders (1991) on related issues. She says gender difference called up hopes of community among women, sisterhood; differences among women (typically racial) reinforce bonds within smaller groups. This idea of difference, though, also impedes connection and the imagining of a larger community. It’s fragmenting. (Note that she points out that the discourse of personal guilt is not helpful.) Also, she notes that difference talk leads us away from specifying the relationships that give rise to gender, racial, class and other inequalities / alienations. “We need to ask for much, much more than merely respecting difference.” [47, emphasis added] Mere respect depoliticizes the idea of difference — and “difference” and “diversity” come to mask power (46). It is a smart piece.

*

The JALLA paper is about alternatives to Sommer, and the possible impossibility of positing a nation. This old paper by Alberto M. cites an old paper by Jean F. that talks about novels dealing with the impossibility of construction of the modern Latin American state. Franco apparently looks at GGM, Yo el Supremo, and some of Rodríguez Juliá. She is engaging in a polemic with Jameson … and doesn’t talk about Arguedas/Zorro which does fit Jameson’s model while turning it against itself. . . . Magical realism seeks its own undoing; can we say the same of transculturation?

From the fourth section of the piece: Zorros opens up a new cycle of LA writing because it closes the possibility of anthropological writing, or ethnofiction. It does so by taking anthropological ethnofiction to a breaking point. There, magical realism, the organizing principle of ethnofiction, is epistemologically shattered because it is revealed to be inexorably dependent upon the subordination of indigenous cultures to an always already Western-hegemonic machine of transculturation: to modernization itself. The indigenous components are enormous and they break the frame, as it were; it is not possible to join Andean culture and modernity in a relation of non-subordination; transculturation is still part of coloniality . . . and magical realism is as well.

Earlier on: “Transculturation is a war machine, feeding on cultural difference, whose principal function is the reduction of the possibility of radical cultural heterogeneity.” (94)

That is key, and I have always like this article, and that has always been my impression of Latin America, before I could say it: a place of radical heterogeneity that everyone is trying to contain.

I will keep trying to work on this, too, and I think the radical heterogeneity is the germ of my JALLA paper. But I was reading this, on Arguedas, for Anzaldúa, and Moreiras quotes Spitta (all of this is so old) — see p. 88, A.’s subject would be that perfectly transculturated one.

Axé.


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