Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Academe’s shameful neglect of Spanish”

Here.

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Protected: Plague reading

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I’ve heard there was a secret chord

Music and the Jews, on the BBC. It is in three parts. There are Sephardic songs in it.

Then there is this in Turkish Ladino, and much more.

Axé.

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César Moro

Dance performance, Barcelona / 2020.

There was the documentary . . . and the Italian translation

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The last juicy footnote

The text:

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.

The note:

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

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More juicy footnotes — being excised, this is too complicated and has to be for another paper

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?

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Excised from footnotes

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.

Axé.

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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.

Axé.

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Mi libro – race and vision

In 1998 Jerome Branche published an article on Sab in the Afro-Hispanic Review in which he complained about the then-current spate of articles that called it a liberationist novel. He pointed out that it was not seen that way in its time, and sees the late 20th century interpretations of it as “fixing the meaning” (Hall), setting limits on the reader’s vision.

How valid are these readings of the text as feminist and abolitionist? He says not very, and will in this essay examine the power and gender relations in the text.

  1. The actual enslaved, and free Black people, are typically considered minor actors in abolition. This marginalization is important to note, although at the same time we must see that there were a lot of economic and political considerations pushing governments to end slavery, and many white Abolitionist societies.
  2. This article is called “Ennobling savagery? Sentimentalism and the subaltern in Sab and I like it. I have to find the rest of it and reread it (actually, I’ve found the rest of my printout now, and I’ve downloaded it).
  3. There is no evidence for Gómez de A.’s abolitionism in real life, nor for Domingo del Monte’s’; Haberly points out that Brazilian abolitionist literature is “both anti-slavery and anti-slave”; this could fit for Cuba as well. It’s interesting in the context of the current push for prestige for abolitionist writers, and in terms of the mythification of race relations in the Americas.
  4. Sab the character is committed to slavery: why do critics see him as a symbol of freedom? If the novel is feminist, why is there so little in it about Black women?
  5. And there is much more, and overall: SAB is about faithfulness of slaves, not the opposite; and as stand-in for the slaves, Sab obscures them. (I always like Jerome’s work.)

I think I can use this for my Ferreira paper, the scene of engulfment, decolonizing readings, left readings. I am glad I found this piece again.

Axé.

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The coloniality of power

Here we have a copy of that Mignolo journal issue/book our library does not have. There’s an article by Sanjinés on the nation and it explains why the B. Anderson model does not work. And an article by J.D. Saldívar on Anzaldúa that thinks, as I have claimed to do, that what she does with language is one of the most effective aspects of her project in Borderlands/La Frontera. And there is more. I’d like to be reading the paper book, but this is nice to have.

Decoloniality is thinking from the other side. But not from a romanticized other side. This book thinks about some of the things I do.

The mestizo is a colonial formation and that is why the mixture with the colonizer is the one that counts–and why you get the mestizo-criollo class. Does this mean that the mestizo, ultimately, cannot be subaltern? That the povo, even if also mixed, is not mestizo? Somebody must have worked this out. Who?

Axé.

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