All I really want to do now is study Sarmiento. I had read Cien años de soledad in English when it came out, before I was literate in Spanish, but Facundo was the first Latin American book I read in Spanish and there is no better one, as it is completely wild. There is so much in it, and so much to say about it, and so much interesting commentary to read on it, that I would like detenerme with it. I am not needed to write on it, but if we could support a seminar on it I would give one, and it would be brilliant.
Meanwhile, I have another new conference strategy: give locally a version of the paper you are going to give nationally. Use these conferences to burnish relations in your region and as a way to keep your research projects in sight, but do not (as I have always done in the past, to my detriment) design your papers for any conference: bend conferences to you.
“Race,” cultural exceptionalism and the modern world system
Mestizaje is a key justification of cultural exceptionalism in Latin America. As foundational myth it has often served to limit the analysis of race and racisms, in the social sciences as well as the literary field. Is it possible to consider questions of race, or race and culture, without taking recourse in exceptionalist logics? This paper considers that question in light of the work of ethicist Denise Ferreira da Silva, author of Toward a Global Idea of Race and other writings on race and racism. It will consider related work on alterity in the modern world system by Michel de Certeau and Michel-Rolph Trouillot.
According to da Silva, mestizaje is the process that produces the recognizable, yet subordinate racial “other” on whose ground the modern subject is sustained. For this reason mestizaje is precisely not “exceptional” in global processes. In order to analyze race beyond exceptionalism, we must also think outside coloniality/modernity (Walter Mignolo), and consider decolonial options. The paper suggests that the exceptionalist discourse on race and mestizaje in Latin America works not to highlight Latin American specificity but to obscure its role in the modern world system, which is also a racial system.