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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Nouvelle chanson

I recycled two journal issues today — ones I’d kept for a reason — and it was a big thing. Now I am going to recycle three books. They’re major, I’ve always had them, so it is a wrench, but on the other hand they are tattered and raggedy now, and I have more recent, fancier editions, and you can see these texts in so many ways now. But they were great company for a long time.

The first was originally sold in Madrid and then in the United States. I bought it in São Paulo. It’s Vallejo, OC 3 (Laia), Poemas en prosa, Contra el secreto profesional, Apuntes biográficos de Georgette. The next is Ferrari’s OPC of Vallejo in Alianza Tres, with his introduction. The third is Eshleman and Barcia’s translation of the complete posthumous poetry.

Farewell, books, you served me well and there is much of me in you. We will meet again one day.


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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.


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In Revision

I am going to have to make sure that paper doesn’t sound like I’m excoriating the Anzaldúa text for being “not Mexican enough.” (Should I worry about that?)

Probably not. I haven’t gotten hold of the Vila chapter I wanted but I found this article by him and it is very, very good, that is — it supports my view. The other piece is in Ethnography at the Border and I think it is an English translation of this.


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Fleur de lys

What is francophonie and what was/is the relationship of former colonies to France? How does this differ from Spain/England? Francophonie seems the most Franceocentric, or Mothercountryocentric. This is something which must really be figured out. Is the métis conciliatory or contestatory? A challenge to “purity” (or something like that) or a support for it? French colonies did not have the longstanding mestizo colonial classes, or the mestizo-criollo alliances of the Spanish ones, or did they?


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Vallejo y yo

I had written this paragraph and thought it was bad, and I later abandoned the paper for lack of time but also lack of hope–based in lack of support or camaraderie, perhaps.

Las fisuras en el sujeto vallejiano, la fragmentación de su corpus poético, las bifurcaciones de su tradición manuscrita, y el enigma de su personalidad son temas entrelazados en muchos estudios. Estos temas son cargados, y no sólo a causa de la pugna de figuras como Georgette o Larrea por definir tanto al autor como el texto, ni por la esperanza de que las llaves de la personalidad del poeta abran paso a una lectura más íntima y certera de la obra. Si se ha querido saber quién era Vallejo o cuál su historia, no es por creer de manera ingenua que la obra refleje al autor y su época sino porque como bien dice Stephen Hart (1998), y el poeta y su obra son enigmáticos por estar impregnados de otredad. ¿De dónde viene esta voz, a la vez tan extranjera y tan de casa? ¿Qué tienen estos textos oblicuos, tan marcados por el desplazamiento, que nos llegan “directamente al corazón”? (Vallejo 1927)

I’m a quick thinker on my feet but a slow/steady researcher and writer. My problems are all about how everyone else wants to work in interval training: push fast for half an hour, then break, then do it again; sweat and strain and suffer and say you hate it but then get a prize, go out and drink/stuff yourself with chocolate/spend. And they say you are immature and lazy if that is not how you work. I HATE PROFESSORS FOR THIS.

I don’t hate them for doing it, but for saying that is how you should do things. They have no joy and no Zen, and they live to condescend to others. I hate them. I really do.

Everything takes time. So many things I dislike doing, I would not mind or even enjoy if not asked to do them in a desperate flurry.


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Filed under Banes, Poetry, What Is A Scholar?, Working

Some links and things for Santa Gloria

1. Entrevistas.

2. Pérez-Torre’s book that I know already I would find self-satisfied and strange — or maybe not, it’s not terribly informed, even though I would rather read Mónica Díaz’ edited collection on being indio in the colonial period. I should ILL it.

3. There’s an article Cholo Angels in Guadalajara that I would quite like to see. (I will request it though ILL.)

4. This not excellent dissertation from Kentucky.

5. Benjamin Alire Sánchez 1997 – – perhaps I can find this, too.



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