Tag Archives: Ferreira da Silva

Jorge Klor, “evoke-and-elide,” and the colonial difference

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.


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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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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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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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Free write for that next version

Situate F da S in CRS and decolonialidad (and other currents).

Useful: scene of engulfment / transcendental poesis – explains creation of L.A. subject but also – more interestingly – repetition of EVOKE AND ELIDE [does this have other contributing factors?]

Problems: blaming the enlightenment, vague decoloniality as solution.

Advantages: global problem, global analysis, with local specificity [allows me to talk about race in Brazil, for instance].

Pero vaya, this needs work.


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More from that notebook

1/ Lott: hairsplitting accounting for differences is not interesting if these differences are not politically charged. Hollinger: racial mixture will fix racism! He replicates Myrdal’s liberalism: US is democratic but flawed, can be fixed, have progress. Guimarães: racial democracy is an incomplete project. Me: postethnic projects substitute normative mestizaje for the earlier normative whiteness. Hollinger wants blackness to be transcended — but AA culture is FUNDAMENTAL to US, not marginal, not something to rub out.

2/ Reconceptualizing ethnicity is pointless if you are not talking also about power and privilege; Hollinger repeats the error of multiculturalism by ignoring the question of class. The “apolitics of complexity” is an avoidance strategy! Michaels’ book OUR AMERICA says that to discuss racism is to perpetuate it, and Hollinger innocently thinks we should think about cultural and not racial identity (he is so reinventing so many wheels, his lack of historical knowledge is amazing).

3/ José Carlos Luciano has a 2002 book on Afro-Peruvians. It says the trauma of slavery has not been broken, and continues to be reproduced. There is a writer Valdés, who was also a doctor and a member of cabildo of Lima; had to make a special petition to the King to be allowed to study and graduate; discussed by Menéndez y Pelayo, José de la Riva Agüero, L. A. Sánchez, and also Cornejo Polar and González Vigil. His religious poetry is praised and his work on patriotism and the nation is not discussed as much; see his 1848 novel El padre Horán, Gothic, anti-clerical, and with implied incest in it. Mbare N’gom 2004 has written on him and says his 1818 Poesías espirituales were one of the first afrodescendiente texts. [I HAVE TO CHECK ALL OF THESE FACTS – my notes are hard to read.]

4/ My paper then: ethnic movements provide critiques of standard “American” values. The critique of the dominant modernity proposed in Ariel and Nuestra América is continued in Freyre and Vasconcelos; liberal US multiculturalism (and some civil rights discourse) make similar gestures and have similar errors and blind spots. Racism is constitutive of identity from the 16th century on … race in America is assigned to phenotypes … cf. Las Casas, Sepúlveda; at the same time Spanish and Portuguese became racial identies; race was invented to legitimate colonization. With the decisions made after the rebellion of Túpac Amaru racism gets worse; institutions punish race but also reward correct racial behavior. MATALINARES said it was a bad idea to have a republic of Spaniards and one of Indians; it was unstable; a single nation was needed to prevent a constant civil war.

5/ With Independence, and the Cortes de Cádiz, the castas did NOT get suffrage; the idea of nation and patria change. Different groups, also, imagine the nation differently and mean different things when they invoke it. Mariano Melgar: “unión y mande el digno,” says the “gato manchado (indio/mestizo). Cecilia Méndez: “Incas sí, indios no.”

6/ Holguín: La posguerra del Pacífico: before, the Indian was good but oppressed and weak; afterward, he was considered a patriot and a good soldier. There were 2M Indians at this point. G. Prada discusses this change in perception in “Nuestros Indios.” Palma has a famous letter about how Indians were cowards. Clorinda? or López Albújar has a poem about an Indian licenciado and veteran distressed to see the ruins of his house after the Chilean victory. All of this is part of the progressive incorpration of the Indian.

7/ Doris Lessing, The grass is singing. Whiteness means LEARNING how to perceive races in the “right” way and act accordingly. And has to be protected by separation. (In Lat. Am., as we know, it’s whites-and-mestizos.) PATRICIA FOX says separating race and culture is a bad thing: it is done to transfer cultural capital upward, i.e. to white people. (NOTE that this is how Cajunization works!)

8/ Back to Sansone. Robin Sheriff’s review was the only one I read that says anything critical — she says his is a “familiar and conservative” voice. He defines ethnicity as a militant investment in identity politics and is terrified of that. (I had more notes here, on different implications of “culturalizing” race, referring to remarks by Marisol, Winant, and Karen M.). My interest is in strategies of denial, ways of driving racism underground; I note that while racial meaning may be formed in different ways, racist practices and strategies of denial of these are remarkably uniform. Lessing’s character’s “You just have to get used to the country” is what was said to me in Bahia, for instance.

9/ People keep saying Winant is uncareful and essentializing. I don’t see it. He says race is a fundamental organizing principle in 20th century politics, a significant dimension of hegemony; I do not see how that is essentializing. He also says mestizaje boosting is an apologetics for racism, and the calls to racelessness are attractive to whites when blackness gets too strong.

10/ Let’s look at DuBois’ double consciousness, always looking at yourself through others’ eyes (also important for my piece on Veloso and Bahia). I said that Guillén’s ambivalence was double-voiced: split subjectivity, consciousness always mediated; what possibilities does this offer for political action? Ambivalence, splitting, resistance, critique. Again: see Winant on midcentury liberals wanting to culturalize race. It is important (I think) because, it seems, cultural recognition and affirmation were supposed to tke the place of remedying inequality (I need to check on this; there is a LOT of work on it).

11/ When Martí said there were no races: were there others who said this? Or was he just saying that in Our America, his ideal America, there shouldn’t be racism/race?

12/ Sansone: the book appears in English with an introduction by Paul Gilroy, and revives the mestizaje idea. it is mainly an anti MNU / anti global black activism book. It reiterates a lot of truisms and myths, including on the fluidity of race in Latin places but mainly the idea combat racism it is best to not INCLUDE people in the categories corresponding to the lowest strata. I wanted, when I composed this presentation, to plead with people to stop going for the postethnic ideal — the liberal common sense — and move to a transnational study of race and nation. (THIS IS A 2004 PAPER BY ME, and if I’d actually published it, it would have been much cited.)

13/ Sansone and Hollinger both evoke and elide difference: it is a strategy to evade discussion of racism and marginalize racialized others, keep them from speaking. And Sansone’s comparisons are odd (he is being transnational, but with odd choices) — the comparisons to Bahia I’d make would be Havana, Lima, Cartagena, New Orleans, Charleston, Haiti — the Afro-Latin places.

–Da Silva is trying to enable rigorous transnational study of race and nation. My disagreement, really, is with saddling the Enlightenment with all of this, and it’s a disagreement not just with Da Silva. THIS is where my research should push, it seems, for various projects.


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For this article

I am going to go through a long, very old, hand written notebook, take a few notes here from it, and then recycle it. One must rid oneself of things if one is to think.

1/ Republic should mean equality, but modernity is exclusionist: this is a problem.

2/ An article worth reading, on manners that show class and race, and an 1890s magazine: El Chispazo y el proyecto modernizador. Un acercamiento a «En los trenes», de Juan de Arona, Néstor Saavedra Muñoz.

3/ Who said, and in relation to what, that: Meléndez y Pelayo just repeated whatever Palma told him? What could Basadre not find, that Monguió had found? All of this too place at a conference on the beginning of cultural journalism in the Peruvian Republic, at the Riva Agüero, and there was an estudioso, Alberto Varillas, whose work interested me.

4/ In the meantime I was reading Jerry Dávila. He quoted Hassenbalg: how to legitimate cultural diversity and also ensure equal social integration of ethnic and racial groups? But Brazil found ways to enforce racist practices while denying racism [EVOKE AND ELIDE]. Guimarães calls racial democracy and incomplete project; Sansone is very concerned to say Brazil is not US, because Brazil has a racial continuum and inclusivity whereas US has no continuum and exclusivity (I say that is very superficial). I said: Hollinger has been criticized, and there is better work than Sansone’s, but their points of view are still the “common-sense” ones. And both cite the exceptions as proof that racism is over. The post-ethnicity enthusiasts seem not to be aware of formation theory, CR theory, heterogeneity theory. There is hybridity without heterogeneity and without equality; is it possible to be non-heterogeneous and have equality?

5/ This Varillas person talked about the origins of the literary essay and cultural journalism. In the period he discused, literature was considered to be where you saw all all knowledge — all “ciencia” — all of life. The crónica was the precursor of literary journalism, and 19th century literature defined and produced culture / nation and was seen as a fountain of knowledge (see the Mercurio Peruano for instance). [This we all know of course because of Anderson and Sommer; they are not wrong]. What Latin America can teach the US, I said, is that multiculturalist projects and assimilationist projets started early on; the 90s multicuturalists seem not fullyi aware of this, I felt when I wrote this notebook, and it’s a point I might still make in the renovated Anzaldúa essay.
VARILLAS HAS A BOOK on periodismo in the history of Peru to 1850. (I kept talking about Hollinger, how looking at Lat. Am. work on race/ethnicity would belie his claims. I kept saying Sansone was wrong that criticism of Brazilian racism was all motivated by U.S. projection of itself into Brazil.)

6/ I was fascinated by John D. French, Nepantla 4.2 2003 and elsewhere, and wanted to get work by João José Reis and Rita Segato. French was defending Michael Hanchard. Bourdieu/Wacquant in that famous article echo Freyre and are actually behind current scholarship, seem unaware of it. Me: just because a particular racist practice cannot be analogized to US does not mean it is not a racist practice. Racism in Brazil is culturally distinct (see Sheriff).

7/ Da Silva: Winant’s notion of formation is socially and historically bounded: he thinks racial difference is real like sexual difference; he and Hanchard expect Afro-Brazilians to identify as black, as they do in the US, but blackness is not a single community in Brazil.  French: Bourdieu and Wacquant do NOT respect Brazilian scholarship on this matter, and they distort US scholarship — and in the name of anti-imperialist solidarity they align themselves with conservative positions in Brazil.

8/ More from French: black activists in B are not separatists but anti-discriminationists, and MNU did take symbols from the US and South Africa, but did not do so passively. Me: Sansone thinks whites can and should police what the MNU does. French: Bourdieu and Wacquant’s model is motivated by anxieties and subjectivities from France. Their characterization of Brazil and Brazilian intellectuals is false.

9/ Healy: Winant sees race as a universal category and this is the problem with him. The problem with Bourdieu and Wacquant is that they think attempts to give race primacy as an analytical category are necessarily an imposition of US categories. There’s also Lott, “Boomer liberalism” (Transition 78: 24-44): race and gender are some of the ways class is lived, and race may not be real but it is an effecdtive way of mobilizing.

10/ Me: Hollinger just believes in the melting pot, no matter how he dresses this up. Lott, “The new cosmopolitanism”: postethnicity is for people put off by the group solidarities of multiculturalism. Hollinger likes polyethnic identities so long as they can be transcended by cultural cohesion; postethnicity is liberal common sense; the idea of black selves as open-ended is NOT ENGAGÉ.

11/ Lott: The preference for the obviously biracial forgets that the BIG AJIACO IS AFRICAN AMERICA. AFRICAN AMERICA IS ALREADY HYBRID. Hollinger wants enlightened hybridism (113, 114); he wants to separate culture from politics; he, like Sansone, is more upset with the politicized identities the ethnoracial paradigm creates than the ugly history it seeks to come back. SOLLORS HAS A BOOK CALLED BEYOND ETHNICITY. And Walter Benn Michaels has one called OUR AMERICA! Transition 69 and 72 had articles I was interested in.






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Ferreira da Silva

In my own work I have argued that, rather than marking a rejection (as the hegemonic writers of the nation advocated) or the denial (as their critics insist) of race (i.e. racial difference), miscegenation institutes a mode of racial subjection predicated upon the necessary obliteration of the racial subaltern subject.” (ca. 2005)

That sentence is important to me because when I had my first intuitions for this project I was disconcerted by the inability of conservative thinkers to think of difference and equality at once. This would be rejection of difference … and then, in the literary works I read, I kept seeing an obsession with racial categorization and hierarchization, and a simultaneous denial of this (I called it “denial of difference”).

I feel I saw what F. da S. sees but I need to make sure it is in fact the same thing.



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Modernity/coloniality and race

On these issues: it seems that despite Catherine the Great’s reservations about serfdom, serfdom rose in the 18th century due to her modernization projects. Modern projects, modern ideas on liberty, AND more serf work needed, all at the same time. Modernity rises, coloniality rises. This is interesting; people do not realize how the serfs were really like slaves (they were NOT attached to land and COULD be sold away) by this period — and the Russians managed to define them as lesser without racializing — or did they find a way to racialize?

Also on these issues: the Holocaust, and sterilization experiments. The stated goal was to extinguish bloodlines; eugenics had been popular in Latin America earlier on; in novels even earlier there seems to be this motif, let’s extinguish our darker bloodlines. The possible mixed babies are evaded, prevented, not had, die.


Translatlantic Quechuañol: see the abstract. That argument is not needed for mine but her point on Nebrija is interesting: he may have hoped language would Hispanize and create empire, but there was covert resistance to this as well as the overt resistance Piedra discusses in my favorite article. Meanwhile, there is an interesting discussion of castas and note that Restall, among others say you must be careful not to project the 19th century ideologies of race that underpinned imperialism and slavery then, back to the 16-18th centuries. To talk about race in this earlier period, we need a different vocabulary. NOTE the information here about lineage, and the way character and also knowledge was communicated through breastfeeding.

Color terms, or what appeared to be color terms, used to sort ore got transferred to racial categories. And as Mignolo points out, in the transition from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment French replaced Spanish as a knowledge-producing language. From there English and German became the languages in which races were sorted, and they used the older metal-sorting vocabulary without fully realizing how it had worked. Readings of race were preserved in translation and Indigenous knowledge was translated out.

…This is a wild article but not something I really need right now. Key takeaway: the extreme complexity of all of this; the indigenous and local contributions to all of this. My doubts re Ferreira da Silva have to do with what seems to me to be the Eurocentrism of her model: Descartes did it, the Enlightenment did it, everything that happened comes from European thought. Am I right here?



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De l’or

Very well. First, Robert Irwin 2001 on Anzaldúa — why had I not found this before? (Well, I had, but I had forgotten).

He implies exactly what I think: Chicano Studies is US-centric and needs a view from the South (if it is really going to help do Border Studies in a non colonizing way).

OK so: Mignolo (modernity/coloniality) also, with border gnosis, wants to bring what was suppressed by modernity into view [LIKE FERREIRA DA SILVA]. Note also prestige of knowledge: what is produced at a US R1 has more power than what is produced in the Frontera Norte, for example. The field of border studies needs this approach; Mexican perspectives need to be brought in.

Mignolo likes Anzaldúa, claiming she creates another locus of enunciation. BUT she and other US scholars actually perpetuate and reinforce barriers that prevent both dialogue with Mexican scholars and the study of Mexican texts that speak to border issues.

[Good phrasing by Irwin: Sommer’s *influential* reading of literary romance as national allegory (513).] And I am SO glad someone besides me sees how imprecise J. D. Saldívar’s work is. See p. 513 on his use of Sommer, though; does this indicate problems with him or with Sommer? BOTH: he’s writing out the Mexican and the Indian [more or less] and she makes a similar gesture.]

Interesting: Anzaldúa seems to resonate with transnational 3d world feminism in some ways but also at the same time it, and the scholarship on it, acts “colonizing” to Mexico (and I, because Anglo, was accused of colonizing for pointing this out, in blind peer review . . . but Irwin has gotten away with it, so now I can cite him).

There is interesting material on California in this article, and on Saldívar’s Border Matters. So much of Chicano Studies ignores or makes a distorted use of Mexican material, and does not listen to what Mexican writers and scholars say even if they are also from the borderlands.

Look up SOCORRO TABUENCA on Anzaldúa. She points out that A’s border cuture is narrated from the first world. Anzaldúa’s borderlands are the product of transculturation of central Mexican culture to the US: her indigenous references are Nahuatl and she cites Aztec myths; she quotes La raza cósmica and not Vasconcelos’ borderlands memoirs in Ulises criollo; this bias remains in American Studies.

ONE MUST SEE how much this piece has been cited and also how much Socorro Tabuenca is. (Anzaldúa wants to accomplish a “massive uprooting of dualistic thinking” and this is a laudable goal). [This is the article in which Irwin discusses J. Murrieta, by the way.]

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