Tag Archives: Sommer

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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The Sommer paper

Titles, notes, and phrases I did not use in the abstract, but must think about, include:

1. Fractured families and dystopian romance in 19th century Latin American narrative
2. Fictional foundations: anti-national non-romance (or anti-national fantasy, colonial rhapsody)
3. Celui n’est pas mon père (yet more fun: Ceci n’est pas mon père)
4. Colonial rhapsody
5. Anti-nation non-narration (review Bhabha)

The volume is pathbreaking and has lasting value, but became landmark in part because of the dearth of work on these novels and the claims of some Boom writers that it was not worth reading anyone before them. NO: Paulk’s explanation of why to move beyond Sommer is better.

Reviews like this one remind us that for Sommer “unsuccessful or tragic versions of these romances point toward the problems that need to be solved in order to attain an ideal future” but I say not. Also note: Ramos talks about national, not foundational fictions, that needs to be discussed/evaluated. Is it enough to make this shift?

A vague and watery, unstable grounding of a [nation]. These novels are not about founding and growing but about emptyingnot about founding a nation but about what is lost and not gained, by the criollo classes, in the transition?

What does it mean to cite these texts as national fictions, if they are about emptying?

Paulk’s points on María are my starting point. Then I point out how OM, Sab and ASN are also diasporic – they’re about not being able to find a home / about displacement.

What about originary violence / violence at origin — it seems that they keep re-staging this, don’t move beyond (I will have to study this, too).

Villaverde’s father-in-law was Inocencio Casanova. So V. writes CV in the US, using many US sources, where he is married to the daughter of this sugar planter who is using family money to run guns to Cuba, against Spain.

In the paper I will quote/refer to Paulk:

“A recent study, ‘Judaísmo y desarraigo en María de Jorge Isaacs’ by Gustavo Faverón Patriau, calls Sommer’s interpretation into question by proposing that Isaacs’ novel does not propose unification through mestizaje but rather is a novel of exile and diaspora (341).” (This sentence is in “Foundational Fiction and Representations of Jewish Identity in Jorge Isaacs’ María.”)

There is a book by one Beckman, Capital Fictions, that I should read. I should also think about the role of Rama/Ciudad letrada here — Sommer is very convincing in her argument that this (what she sees) really is how leaders of the time thought; key in my argument is that she puts far too much faith in what some said of the power of mestizaje, including projecting backward from 1980s acceptance of 1930s ideas.

A question I have is about the need to mix bloods to unify the people. My immediate reaction, years ago, was that the problem was the inability to conceive of equality and cultural difference at the same time; I believe it is Paulk who also says this (and is the first person I have seen say it).


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