I had a footnote using Jorge Klor de Alva . . . something smart from, I think, 1995 . . . and I am going to have to resurrect this in a next paper.
What is the “colonial difference” (Mignolo)? In theory I know, but there is more to know about it. Is evoke-and-elide the scar of a moment in which the colonial difference is simultaneously revealed and occluded?
This question is central.
I would add and emphasize that the literary construction of a national subject with indigenous roots, modern-democratic feeling, and transnational potential has been an elite, not a subaltern project in Latin America for over two hundred years. This subject is a product of colonialism, and it could be argued that it was crafted after formal decolonization to anchor the modern/colonial world-system in place, not to dismantle it.
Denise Ferreira da Silva’s work actually suggests this. HERE IS THE TOPIC OF NEXT PAPER! (But I knew that.)
GENERAL NOTE: have I emphasized clearly enough that in a feminist critique of mestizaje you kind of should talk about origins of mestiza in rape? Especially if you are using Vasconcelos? It goes without saying, I think, but at the same time: these mestizos and mestizas have that status originally because they’re products of colonialism / patriarchy, and this matters in a particular way when you’re idealizing mestizaje.
Anyway, I am not
These questions–raised by Medina, on whether you really can just take from a culture what you want and leave the rest, and by me [following others], on the distance between giving voice to the subaltern subject [that may be you, although the subaltern cannot speak] and creating a new, liberated subject–lead back to issues of nation and class, not to the more ebullient terrain of transnationalism or cosmopolitan hybridity.
See Aijaz Ahmad. We are glad to talk about hybridization because it isn’t taking up arms. Anzaldúa reaches out to white people and ignores bridges to other minorities (Medina), and doesn’t deal with Mexican side of the border, but does appropriate gods from central Mexico. Still, what is interesting, and what makes her struggle difficult, is the bridging of this chasm between the subaltern and the liberated subject (and I had in my notes, her work to contain anger).
Everything seems to make sense from the white/academic point of view. Anzaldúa stopped saying mestiza and started saying nepantlera because of these problems; is that a better term or just a more effective evasion?
ALSO: Anzaldúa’s choices of Latin American points of reference–pre-Columbian deities and canonical authors like José Vasconcelos and Octavio Paz–are interesting, since they are canonical/conservative, not “minority” references. There are actual minority cultural and literary traditions, both current and older, that might be the things to reach out to or compare one’s own project to, if that project were subaltern–right?
Every footnote could become part of a new paper, and perhaps should. I cut from one footnote:
Scholars like Peter Wade note that mestizaje as ideology has worked as a uniting force in some communities, but Bolivia is now a plurinational state and Ecuador’s most recent constitution gives indigenous peoples their own cultural rights. There is also interesting bibliography on hybrid subjects opting out of the mestizo concensus. Two sophisticated but brief studies which may also serve as advanced introductions to the problem are Piedra (a literary perspective) and Ribeiro (a perspective from the social sciences).
And: my sentence “In contexts where the liminal or hybrid subject is a not a figure of multiple oppression but one of conciliation, the assignation of primary revolutionary work to them actually functions to obscure subaltern representation,” could have a footnote. Several scholars already have responses to what I say here: Anzaldúa is marginal in the United States. But that is my point: she’s not universal, then, and if your defense of the mestiza as necessarily revolutionary is that she is in the United States, then you’re being ethnocentric.
Look at this person’s bibliography: race and the state, and hybridity, and now Herzog.
Admiration and envy are my feelings on this — I wanted to be in a position to spend time on these things myself. Perhaps I can now.
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.
I really MUST study the Louisiana-Caribbean connection in greater detail — there’s a 19th century novel called Macandal, and Séjour has a short story, Le Mulâtre, about paternity as well as a play about Jewishness and limpieza de sangre.
In police news, consider the story of Fred Hampton, some damning evidence on the FBI, and a good analysis.
For summer I am trying to step up my program of divesting myself of books and files. My focus is on copies of books I doubt I will read, and on journal issues now available electronically.
Yesterday I got rid of a nice copy of George Steiner, After Babel, because the pages are so yellowed. Going today is PMLA 134:1 (January, 2019). It has a special topic, “Cultures of Reading,” and it has this article about cataloguing, race, and classification, which is even more interesting than it sounds; this fascinating piece on Juan Moreira and the literary nation; a very good anticolonial theory of reading (related to the article on race and classification); and a piece on Fanon that is more than worthwhile.
And I am sure the rest of it would be interesting to me as well, but it is going nonetheless.
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.