I cannot tolerate further work on this abstract so, despite my dissatisfaction with it I am sending it in. This is the literary version; the Spanish version will be more sociological. Its title is El lado oscuro del mestizaje: raza y estado en tres textos decimonónicos, and I like that better.
This was hard to write because I thought it would be easy. I would sit down to knock it out and get mesmerized for hours, not necessarily making headway. Now that it is finished I will lead a more rational life. I will write on a schedule, not just when I can.
The Darker Side of Mestizaje: Three Tropical Texts
This paper rereads three nineteenth century novels from the Americas: Jorge Isaacs’ María (Colombia), Cirilo Villaverde’s Cecilia Valdés (Cuba/U.S.A.), and Aluízio de Azevedo’s O Mulato (Brazil), in light of David Theo Goldberg and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s theoretical work on race, modernity and the state. If race is constitutive of the modern state, as Goldberg demonstrates (2002), or of modernity itself, as da Silva argues (2007), the liberal assumption that inequality can be addressed within the framework of the nation does not hold. How might this perception change our readings of the nineteenth century texts commonly read as signs and symptoms of a mestizo or post-racial nation to come?
María, Cecilia Valdés, and O Mulato are all “foundational” texts in their national canons. Like several other novels of the period they tell stories intertwining incest and miscegenation. Read through the lens of the national projects based on cultural mixture embraced in the 1930s, the literature of this earlier period can be seen to form a corpus in which newly independent nations trace a common origin and project future cohesion. The texts examined here, however, chronicle rupture and and loss, not union or suture; they might more accurately be considered novels of originary violence than of national conciliation.
At stake in these writings is not only the formation of a national culture but also that of the racial state that lies behind it. The reader may be witnessing a shift within the modernizing state, but not a challenge to the patriarchy and its racial hierarchies. Goldberg and da Silva, both comparative scholars working beyond the frame of the nation, may help elucidate some of the complexities around the articulation of race and state in these texts, and shed light on some of ambiguities and impasses present-day discourse on race inherits from this era.
The paper draws on research on race and the state in the Hispanic world by Jens Andermann, Joshua Goode, Joshua Lund, Deborah Poole, and Javier Sanjinés, as well as and recent work on race and social policy by Gonzalo Portocarrero, Sérgio Paulo Guimarães, and Robert Cottrell. It considers Villaverde’s New Orleans sources, parallels and intertexts including George Washington Cable’s Les Grandissimes and Charles Gayarré’s Fernando de Lemos, and the fact that Cuba’s national novel was written over thirty years’ residence in the United States.