Category Archives: Bibliography

Spain, race as a global construct, and lagniappe

Race is about politics. The concept of race was invented in Spain in the 14th century. Originally this was about religion (the Jews) but then it became about social and political power — the idea being not to share power with the conversos. So otherness then became about genealogy, not current religious difference, and Jewishness was genealogical. This racial difference was not visible since the conversos did not look different from Christians.

Then, with colonialism and slavery, Iberians and other Europeans developed this racial ideology further and carried it around the globe. A series of racializing theories were created to mark groups as permanent outsiders. Many of these populations did look different, so race became a visual marker of difference — although they still insisted that the main difference was an inheritance from birth. Note that in this way the U.S. convention of hypodescent, much maligned in the Hispanic world as “more racist,” isn’t actually different from the Inquisition’s search for Jewish origins.

Origin–place and race of origin–is imbricated here, and it is key that race is visual and/or genealogical, and that the variety of the racializing theories is part of the power of the concept of race. People who say things like, “my racializing theory is not as evil as yours” utterly miss the point.

All of this has to do with the construction of nation in Latin America: to what extent can people be part of the nation, or not? The complexity of the strategies of exclusion/ inclusion is what makes everything so precarious–especially when you are trying to have slavery/patriarchy on the one hand, and modern rights on the other.

The lodging of racial difference or otherness in the body is what enables permanent exclusion of whole groups, and this is the problem they are having in Cecilia Valdés … yet I need to be able to articulate on a dime why all mestizaje is not subversive (even Cecilia’s is not really, since she is trying to whiten).

There is amazing bibliography on race and the early modern world here, and I should probably see The Beguiled and read Dixa Ramírez’ book.

I received interesting PDFs by Minnie-Bruce Pratt’s spouse, also, and they’re out of field for me but I should read them.

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Reading stories like an underdog

This is an important little piece to read.

And I want this book Global Raciality, but not at its price. I wish we had a library, and that it kept up with things. They have it at LSU-S and I should get it by interlibrary loan.

And finally, I have always admired this article on Borges. Now I’ve discovered the author was an important writer in his own right. There is so much to know.

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Recycling colonial Brazil, or, Colonial identity in the Atlantic world . . . and Ferreira da Silva, again

I went to this NEH institute almost 20 years ago where I was a bad student. I was partly there because I needed the scholarship money to survive the summer. And as it turned out we were to stay in these depressing dorms, and the NEH was broke that summer so the coolest speakers could not come . . . and the director had told the speakers we did have that we would “know nothing,” so they were speaking as if for tourists, and were surprised to find out we were professors.

It was when faculty now famous were younger, still trying to get married, still trying to have children, having unwise romantic drama with each other, so things were tense like high school or graduate school. (College had not been like that because people did not seem to see it as the end.)

It was the summer JSTOR was new. I was stifled in my job and alienated. A friend even more alienated was there. I think we were right in our analysis, but it was not a charitable one. In any case I remember the malaise. I did write a paper.

In any case, I am recycling some materials from it, and taking note of a few things in it — namely on formations of national identity in late-colonial Brazil and Spanish America (Stuart Schwartz, Anthony Pagden). Pagden — and I quite like his essay, and am not doing it justice — says that by 1650 or so the criollo elites of Mexico and Peru no longer considered themselves, nor their culture, Spanish. Because of early policies about marrying Indians and considering mestizo offspring Spaniards, by the early 18th century few criollo families were not actually mestizo.

The early racial fluidity undermined the criollo sense of being a closed, white elite and as a result of this, the project of figuring out how to extol the indigenous past while excluding present Indians was born; it was already clear by the middle of the 16th century that this was the model. Mestizos were also despised by now–not the bearers of a new, mixed culture.

Meanwhile, people like Siguenza y Góngora (1645-1700) were trying to figure out how to create a history and identity that used the past glory/present subjection of Indians as a basis of Mexican history. (He constructs Pre-Columbian Mexico as Mexico’s classical heritage, and so on.) It is worth reading, rereading this, and getting the actual book, too, which is inexpensive now.

Other things in this binder include some classic essays on the independence of Brazil, and Karl Kohut’s 2000 volume on the formation of viceregal culture, which has three volumes.

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Reading novels

I am not a good consumer of novels, they seem long and not always interesting enough for the effort they take, but on the plane I started reading David Trueba’s Saber perder and I liked it. I have slightly ruined it by speed-reading and also reading ahead, skipping around. I should not do this because the reason I like it is precisely because its understated prose is so composed as to allow you to walk along the book at a nice pace. I like Carlos Velázquez’ El karma de vivir al Norte, too. I like the stark and devastating, or devastated prose. I like it in the way I like the prose of Daniel Sada. Prose of the desert. I’ve been reading Velásquez’ chapters backward and out of order, too, and to have read from the first page forward would have been another experience.

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Books and things on nations and borders

There is The Borders of Dominicanism, useful to me in that it invokes another borderland with the U.S.

There is At the edges of states: Dynamics of state formation in the Indonesian borderlands (Michael Eilenberg)

The book rests on the premise that remote border regions offer an exciting study arena that can tell us important things about how marginal citizens relate to their nation-state. The basic assumption is that central state authority in the Indonesian borderlands has never been absolute, but waxes and wanes, and state rules and laws are always up for local interpretation and negotiation. In its role as key symbol of state sovereignty, the borderland has become a place were central state authorities are often most eager to govern and exercise power. But as illustrated, the borderland is also a place were state authority is most likely to be challenged, questioned and manipulated as border communities often have multiple loyalties that transcend state borders and contradict imaginations of the state as guardians of national sovereignty and citizenship.

There is National Identities and Sociopolitical Changes in Latin America, eds. Durán-Cogan and Gómez-Moriana, Routledge 2001, with a Wynter piece in it I am told to read.

In other news, there is also Maite Condé’s Foundational films: early cinema and modernity in Brazil and the film, A 12-year night. This and “La operación,” the documentary on sterilization of Puerto Ricans, would be good for our planned class on film and human rights.

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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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Ginzburg, Melville

The July 29 New Yorker has a beautiful article about Natalia Ginzburg, who is wonderful, and a fascinating one about Melville. Ginzburg: imagination is stronger when you are happy – suffering makes the imagination weak and lazy – drowning in emotions, and in particular, in pain is NOT what women writers should do. This is in the 1949 essay “My vocation” and the author notes that Woolf said something very similar in AROOO. Melville themes: whiteness, race, family romance, and insanity. I love Melville and this article.

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Ancient

Ancient notes, I think from a conference 20 years ago, that I kept and kept. What did they say and why did I keep them?

Postmodernism as grand récit flattens out the complexities of Latin American modernism, which had postmodern characteristics and also more, it was more complex. It tries to articulate national and continental modernities from the point of view of a mobile subject.

It looks at itself from Europe and from “America,” and that America is itself fissured. Vallejo’s clear view of fissures in his own identity (and identity itself?) comes from his being from a fissured place. Despite his attempts at creating monumental art, he always ends up emphasizing the fissure.

* Somewhere in PH he refers to Peru as undigested matter
* He was interested in the contingent self – formations from nothingness – not the questioning of an already formed transcendental subject [this was what I used to claim, it was my key idea, and it is something that really needs research and substantiation, that I think exists]
* He was serious about Peruvianness as part of this identity — it is not just something he writes about in his prose to be “PC” or follow current fashion [again, this is something that really needs investigation]
* Peruvian modernity as an “idea out of place”
* Berman, modernism as reaction to modernity – and note Vallejo has been written on with Berman in mind; modernity in Peru had not been realized; note authoritarianism of Peru, combined and uneven development.
* Mariátegui talked about how to modernize and whom to include in modernization; this is important.
* Revista Mundial; Leguía; Revista Peruana, Mercurio Peruano, Amauta
*
There were two vanguardias: the international and the indigenista one. Los heraldos negros does both
* See the revista Anunciación and the writer César Atahualpa Rodríguez, of Arequipa

And we have a few more notes, before I end this round of mind-watering and start seriously writing. I always get really nostalgic when I see my notes, the research I was so interested in but that was to be done by the self I was so alienated from. Here are some notes on that, from a conversation with Quinn. I wish I could reconstruct more of them, and I do not fully understand what I have. They say, or Quinn said:

– I have trouble working because the environment feels so oppressive.
– Work is what I want but it is also a PTSD trigger.
– I was taught to catastrophize and THAT is a PTSD trigger, too.
– DO NOT CATASTROPHIZE.
– Anxiety and so on are, or are results of brain trauma. Think again about PTSD, complex PTSD. (Think of that serious-comic video we were watching.)
– This university gaslights you, makes you doubt reality or your reality; they’re outright mean, denying rights and projecting low motives into everyone
– Again, always de-catastrophize.
– Again, it is hard to concentrate due to the oppressive atmosphere and the PTSD triggers; these things lead to EXECUTIVE DYSFUNCTION
– Executive dysfunction: “If I experience this, if I have these feelings, I will die”
– Dissociating because of this
– The self-deprecating humor of people from the margins is actually humiliation, and it is something people do to get permission to speak
– But actually, nobody has the right to treat anyone poorly
– I have been in so much pain so many days, and under so much pressure / feeling as though there were nowhere to turn
– When you soak a child in shame they cannot develop the neural pathways that lead to self-worth
– According Robert Scaer (trauma expert and neuroscientist), “trauma is any life stress that occurs in a state of helplessness.” [Source]
– I was taught you should succumb to [negativity] to prove you “were not numb” (which was a sin) but that was WRONG. You should stand up for yourself, care for and about yourself, believe in yourself, NOT allow destruction to colonize you.

Clorinda Matto REALLY believes in periodismo – believes in immigration and ANSINA – in sending Italians to Peru – because the Chinese are “enfermizos” whereas the Italians are part of the “raza latina.” The Italians came about 1840 because of the guano boom, GARIBALDI the nationalist arrived about 1852.

Matto favors professional education for women because it improves their lives and also makes marriage something other than prostitution. She points out that 60% of women are not mothers or wives (very interesting figure). AND she is against centralismo limeño. She talks about women as speaking subjects, not only objects of contemplation or study.

El Perú ilustrado and the ambiguous, or ambivalent discourse of progress. See also Gargurevich. Meanwhile González Prada, after the war with Chile, said the real Peru was the Indians. This, together with Matto’s turn to indigenismo, is a major shift. Matto, here and elsewhere, was interested in creating a national literature that did not follow European models — she was looking to PERUANIZAR EL PERU — and she looks back to Manco Cápac and people of that era. She believes in the press as a venue for this ideological work, and also that literature and commerce support each other.

W.E.B. DuBois wanted African-Americans to fight for their rights as a race – he believed in this U.S. idea of differences between people and cultures, but equality of opportunity and rights. I.E.: you did not have to be of one race and culture to have equal rights. That is, he thought black culture, African culture, were real. That may not be as clear in Brazil.

I have quite a few heavily marked pages from an old LARR article that is interesting, and seems to be a review essay; what I was marking about: when Brazil was advertising itself as inclusive and a racial democracy, it did not just have “informal racism” that enforced discrimination although not officially. There were very apparent patterns of state-sponsored exclusion during the 1st Republic. There’s a collection of essays, called Race, Science and Society (in Portuguese), edited by Maio and Santos, on these racial politics. Whitening was state policy. THERE WAS STATE POLICY. Another book, The Spectacle of the Races, is really important on this. And there is Hendrik Kraay’s collection of essays on Afro-Brazilian Culture and Politcs in Bahia, that ALSO indicates how much work the state did as guardian of inequality. This article also has some useful criticisms of F. W. Twine’s work, and the general takeaway is that research at the time this piece was written focuses on HOW discrimination operated (it had moved on from just showing, having to show that it had been there).

I know typing this looks like a form of procrastination but I don’t think it is really. I have to recover all the things I was thinking of, soak them back into me. Also: during this period I kept stopping work because I was so discouraged about self and life but the answer to that is to recover self-respect and keep on working. WHY was it in fashion to let detractors take one over? It was a bad fashion.

There is an R. Rosello article in Paragraph 18 (1) (1995), “Practices of Hybridity” that was worth looking it, talking about hybridity as a “beyond” space — I was interested in going beyond that idea. And there was Cornejo Polar, on the novela indigenista and hybridity. The novela indigenista had heterogeneity of elements; socio-cultural space de índole desigual y conflictiva. Mariátegui talked about the carácter no orgánicamente nacional de la literatura peruana, stemming from the language dualism, Quechua/Spanish. The real maraviolloso is also indigenista, about the cruce conflictivo de dos sociedades and dos culturas.

Un universo dividido: Peru was capitalist and also feudal, since inside production it was feudal even though the exterior was capitalist; there was also the interpenetration of Indian and white customs (cf. Arguedas). The dyad indianismo/indigenismo presupposes a dualidad indio/metrópoli — unlike González Prada, M. does NOT say the “true Peru”is Indian. Leguía’s indigenismo posited the indios puros as symbols; Cornejo likes Rama. M.’s indigenismo is progressive; heterogeneidad social is class struggle and indigenismo itself is heterogeneous as well as being about cultural heterogeneity (as we know, heterogeneity is distinguished from mestizaje). Also: cultural nationalismo is about returning to [“true” and unitary] roots.

Indigenista discourse presupposes a difference between the producers of the said discourse and those represented in it; this difference is determined societally and culturally. So again, indigenismo itself is heterogeneous and demonstrates the heterogeneity of the carácter nacional.

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Vijay Seshadri, Werner Herzog

I was taken with this poem and discovered its author is well known. And it seems Herzog is still working, I do not necessarily approve of him or like all of his work but effectively he seems to be my favorite filmmaker, so what can one do. Life, pleasure, art.

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More books to put on that iPad

Gloria Anzaldúa. I need whatever she has that I don’t and the library doesn’t, but in particular Light in the Dark AND the Spanish translation with its introduction. Things I must read are not necessarily things I should read, but here we go. And here is some 2017 Anzaldúa bibliography.

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