Category Archives: Borderlands

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.

Axé.

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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?

Axé.

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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.

Axé.

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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.

Axé.

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BRASA/LASA

The BRASA deadline is extended to September 1, Gott sei Dank, and I have to double-check the situation with LASA. I’d like to go to both just to see papers, and maybe I should even if I don’t get in or don’t make the submission deadlines. In the meantime, here are some of my old notes on race; I have not worked consistently enough since my disaster and that is why I have all these fragments I am trying to sew together.

From an ERIP conversation: there are intra-regional processes of racialization and they are becoming more and not less severe (se están agudizando); lo racial sí importa para la desigualdad, y se articula en otros procesos. Es efecto de las reformas neoliberales, que SON colonización. Y no ‘sicológico’ – sino técnica de poder.

The mestizo project of the 20s and 30s was also anti-Chinese! They were coming in and needed to be defined out of national character! Blackness in Mexico is invisible, or invisibilized as well, and the mestizaje project was about official inclusion and actual exclusion. It is ALSO about modernización e igualación social.

Also: mestizaje might be anticolonial, but it isn’t antiracist! Review Gamio, Forjando patria, his ideas of mestizaje. Also Moisés Saenz 1919, his idea of “ethno-races,” and El proceso de aculturación, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán 1957. And it was under the influence of FRANZ BOAS that “se dejó de hablar de raza en México.”

PROCESSES OF RACIALIZATION (that is key for F. da Silva). And: difference does not create inequality. You create race by recoding culture as biology. Racialization is NOT residuo colonial (and it is getting stronger now with neoliberalization). It is part of the structure of the CURRENT COLONIAL SITUATION, or a structuring part of it.

Racialization manipulates stereotypes, but to speak of race involves much more than classifying phenotypes. DA SILVA is talking about how race is produced. RACE is a concequence of RACIALIZATION, and not the opposite. El racismo surge de la política, y es herramienta.

Race as concept is preserved by the refusal to discuss racism.

Axé.

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Des feuilles

I am still going through my files and it is shocking – so many quite good and almost finished papers I set aside, or that got swept aside in one storm or another.

I have the Racial Order book, which is focused on the U.S. It talks about field theory (Bourdieu). Can race be a field? Like class, a field is “not a thing” — it is a set of relations, a set of overdeterminations; the field concept and formation theory have much in common.

There is someone called Kim Schneider who has written on the tragic mulata and the tragic muse, the mulata and the Jewess; I must look this up.

Subalterns used the language of rights to promote their inclusion in nation states, and Toussaint used the concept of rights — although he soon learned he was on the other side of modernity (his experience is a good example of the modernity/coloniality dyad). In the late 19th century the concept of RIGHTS collapses as Western industrial modernity becomes dominant.

***Completely different: if the student is customer and the faculty employee, what is civil society? Other vocabulary words: students are learners and faculty are customer service. But do people actually want to reject the neoliberal model? It is not just a question of whether we will have academic freedom and shared governance, but whether we will have a critical university and a democratic one. What about the patron-client relationships here: everything is Can I trust you? and Do I like you? What about mendacity, irrationality, incompetence — what if the actions of the administration are fraudulent, dishonest, manipulative?

Axé.

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Ideologies of Hispanism (more notes to frame Cecilia and plaçage) … these 13 points are a fairly good blocking out

FACE YOUR FEARS [I am transcribing these notes to avoid doing that, but it isn’t a bad form of procrastination as it is helping me get something else necessary done].

ALSO REMEMBER: Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II was a Confederate ally who had sheltered and supplied Southern ships during the Civil War. Then he offered land to the Confederados for as little as 22 cents an acre, subsidized their transport to Brazil, provided temporary lodging, promised quick citizenship and sometimes greeted them in person as they disembarked.

AND: Passing is subversive because you are not staying “in your place;” authenticity meant what exactly? having a knowable, “legitimate,” revealable class/race/family?

1/ I am interested in state policies and national myths.

2/ CV is a quadroon story that deploys the plaçage myth, which is a Haitian trope.

3. Focus on plaçage: it is deployed so as to claim that interracial relationships only take place in N.O., which will contain them (this is Emily Clark’s suggestion); so as to deflect attention from the actual fear which is of Haitian men (Clark).

4. CV is, or is said to be, the Cuban national novel. People identify with Cecilia, who is mixed, confused, and is also a girl who should be white. But the topic of the novel is actually the fear of Cecilia and its project is to contain her. It is anticolonial but also white supremacist and patriarchal.

5. As R. Lazo poits out, it’s also a product of New York. But as we note, it is also a product of Haitian and N.O. myths of the quadroon. So what is Cuban / U.S. / Latin American literature? None of it actually refers to nations, but to regions; all of it is transnational.

6. It is a counter-discourse to 19th century racial republicanism: the state is unable to produce a nation!

7. I need to look up Werner Sollors and Sibilla Fisher, still, on incest and miscegenation. Mulataje means NO OFFSPRING and yet Cecilia produces a baby (more or less).

8. Villaverde himself had to get a certificate of whiteness to be able to study, which is a good lead-in always; the entire society was so concerned to preserve certain venues for the truly white that this was necessary.

9. Novels to look for: Petronio y Rosalía; La cuarterona; Si haces mal, no esperes bien.

10. Lazo: CV is a hemispheric text and IS aware of its genre. Note that there were other hemispheric novels produced in Philadelphia. It was also written as the nation-state model was coming into crisis: these are counter discourses to previous foundational novels such as those by Mármol and Blest Gana that did not deal with race

11. Contra Doris Sommer, who talks about mestizaje and nation (the letrado discourse), I am interested in race and state. (Marilyn thinks this distinction does not hold up but I think it does.)

12. What do mestizos do: (a) confound racial discourse and be dangerous for that reason, or (b) join with blancos against indios? Is mestizaje a strategy of inclusion, or containment, or both? I think Sommer, con su elogio del mestizaje y de la nación, simplifies everything: her book is about why nations cannot be founded. And I think Anzaldúa, writing more or less in the same period as Sommer and in the same country, falls into the same error; I am not convinced by “hybridity” OR “decoloniality” as a solution

13. Also: in the period in which these ANTI mestizaje novels were written, Afro-descendants were making scary political strides. So: CV, the novel, is declaring earlier models for alliances unviable. At this point these narratives are raising more questions than they answer, and are talking about the failure of Independence (civil war, international war) societies and not the optimism of newborn, forward looking nations.

Axé.

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