That Discerning Eye

♦ This sketch does not justify my working title which refers to Villaverde’s “ojo conocedor” — the eye which sees race. The “discerning eye” in his text and in others is what makes one (Latin) American. Elite criollos need it so as to know with whom they are dealing; others do too, so as to know how to act; what the discerning eye sees, however, it should not speak. These are the rules of the game.

♦ I have known for years that these were my ideas and structure but I had not understood how to talk about the double gesture — although it is of course there in Bolívar for all to see. I also did not understand until sometime in 2012 that it was the state, not the nation, that interested me for these purposes. And this idea I got from Lund, that mestizaje is actually hyperracial, was the third element I needed. I discovered these things via research and fieldwork and by using my brilliant analytical skills. Now that I have a hypothesis interesting enough to work with, I will have to engage in still more research and analysis. Now, though, I have enough of it ava

→When in the Discourse before the Congress of Angostura (1819) Bolívar proclaimed “La sangre de nuestros ciudadanos es diferente; mezclémosla para unirla” he makes a double gesture: the new nations are conceived in racial terms, but are at the same time to move, at least at the level of public discourse, beyond race. The mestizaje that, a hundred or more years on, would become the signature of many Latin American nations, is here neither a mixture that dissolves race nor a transgression against racial hierarchies, but a hyperracial strategy to unify the nation and contain the lower classes by maintaining such hierarchies while also blocking discussion or analysis of these.

→This double gesture will be echoed and [struggled with/in] in literary and cultural texts throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and [undergo various vicissitudes and transformations — consider, inter alia, characters of hard to discern race, who are blocked at every step because others know or see who they are, yet cannot speak of it] before, through the work of writers like Vasconcelos and Freyre, mestizaje and mulatez become national discourses that forget the violence in which they were conceived. The present study examines [various cases], ending with a look at the conflictive terrain in which the writers of the 20s and 30s negotiated the relationship between race and the modern; we will look at these things keeping in mind that race is a fundamental element in modern state formations (Goldberg) and perhaps in modernity itself (da Silva).

→That is the roughed-out structure; it will allow me to have a post-chapter or two on the later 20th century including some remarks on debates over multiculturalism / the writing of “Greater Mexico” / immigration. It is my contention that there are keys to understanding the present in these older texts, and it is my position that the racial “problem” is not simply a leftover from the colony or from slavery, is not simply an imperfection to be overcome, but exists and renews itself in changing forms because it is a constitutive element in the present paradigm.

→This is to say, I can go back and talk about the pre-1819 history of these things, and look ahead toward the present day, but the bulk of this is 1819-1930 or so — the period I intuit is not “foundational” or conciliatory (my reading of Sommer) but is, rather, made of disjunctions, losses, trap-doors, and, precisely, the precariousness when not the impossibility of “founding” on such uncertain ground. We will see how this goes, and some of what I say here is will turn out to be naïve or misguided, but this is what I am starting out with.

♦ I can talk about Jorge Bruce, Choledad privada, and all sorts of interesting, current things.

♦ Another important piece of this discussion is white fathers and the erotics of racial hierarchy, but that is in my Lyx document.




Filed under News, Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

3 responses to “That Discerning Eye

  1. Z

    En otras palabras —

    Estos son los 3 elementos clave que [hoy] descubrí:

    – el gesto doble: unificar pero jerarquizar, anular lo racial oficialmente para mejor fijarlo como elemento en a organización social, funcionando de manera oculta
    – unificar pero jerarquizar para organizar el Estado: la nación es mestiza, pero el Estado no
    – el discurso del mestizaje no como superación de las divisiones raciales sino como hiperracialización

  2. Z

    From our readers:

    acabo de encontrar un término “simbióntes donde los denominados parásitos que en muchos casos están perfilados por raza, tienen la función de ser posiblemente utilizados por el estado esto esta en Esposito biopolitica y filosofía. Pero cita a Uexkull.

  3. Z

    I need Andermann here, originary violence that cannot be seen, and my idea about states in ruins.

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