Tag Archives: María

Encore des nouvelles. On modernity, and on race.

– Thursday is César Vallejo’s birthday and he will be 125.

– This, as we know, could also be about Vallejo, as it is about many:

Living in Budapest, connected to a self-confident and industrializing West but set apart from it by language and often religion, Polanyi and his contemporaries embodied one of the central facts about the cultural and political ferment that we often equate with modernism: Its vitality depended on the admixture of a modern social order and outlook with often archaic folk communities. (Bartók’s music is a classic example.)

Polanyi is one of many intellectuals I would like to understand.

I am interested also in the conversion of the Jews in the nineteenth century, as both Marx’ and Heinrich Heine’s parents converted, as my ancestor did. Polanyi and other twentieth century figures longed, says Gareth Dale, for “a social order in which the entire issue of assimilation would be an irrelevance.” (It could be worth reading the book whose review I refer here to learn more about what this meant then, because it is yet another experience of race and difference in the high modernist period.)

Then there is Marisol de la Cadena:

…mestizo and mestizaje…are doubly hybrid. On the one hand they house an empirical hybridity, built upon eighteenth and nineteenth century racial taxonomies and according to which ‘mestizos’ are non-indigenous individuals, the result of biological or cultural mixtures. Yet, mestizos’ genealogy starts earlier, when ‘mixture’ denoted transgression of the rule of faith, and its statutes of purity. Within this taxonomic regime mestizos could be, at the same time, indigenous. Apparently dominant, racial theories sustained by scientific knowledge mixed with, (rather than cancel) previous faith based racial taxonomies. ‘Mestizo’ thus houses a conceptual hybridity – the mixture of two classificatory regimes – which reveals subordinate alternatives for mestizo subject positions, including forms of indigeneity.

Y sí, and that is what the talk the other day did not address, and it is key for my piece on Isaacs: there is racial and religious mestizaje that stand in for each other. THIS is a good insight, I do think. (About mestizaje itself, the other way in which the word or concept “means in two accents” is that it is deployed in both oppressive and utopian or liberating ways.)

And Isaacs is another 19th century person, working on the conversion of the Jews, and there is a connection here.

(I so must create a system in which to put all these thoughts together.)



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María: yes, it is the patriarchy

A friend says that the reason people in Louisiana so fear sex, despite having quite a lot of it (despite having it compulsively, I would say), is that they still regret losing the Civil War and slavery. So they are nostalgic for an earlier time, like the more reactionary Muslims of the Middle East, he says.

In this (Victorian) time you would have the cloying upper-class white women, certain vixen types, and then a lot of slaves and working-class women you could rape and exploit. So it is slavery, which requires an extreme form of patriarchy, that has created the sexual habits and attitudes of the Louisianians, he posits.

This, of course, would explain why my first reaction to Jorge Isaacs’ María was, “This novel is about the fear of sex.”

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What are research and writing, and what is productivity?

There is an article by Quijano and Wallerstein, Americanity as a concept; or the Americas in the modern world system: “La americanidad y la colonialidad estuvieron íntimamente ligadas desde un principio. La singularidad de América reside en los diversos borramientos que acompañaron la expansión colonial europea: el imaginario territorial indígena, y mucho más.” (Mignolo 2005: 70)

That is about singularity and the question of living among these vestiges. Those are two key discussions in two different papers I am working on now. Therefore, I must remember this.

Meanwhile, a sociologist who is very “productive” says coloniality is an “ideology,” which is “a set of ingrained beliefs that serves a purpose.”

That is to say he is commenting on Mignolo and da Silva without having read them, and discussing ideology without having read, or without having understood Althusser or Gramsci … and a few other sins.

This is interesting since I am about to present at a conference that will be heavy with sociologists, so I need to be very clear … also, it shows why just explaining a couple of difficult concepts is in fact a contribution to the advancement of science.

It also explains why I have to get this book and these articles out, as my old friend the Goose used to say: “Alguien tiene que hacer algo responsable en este mundo degradado.”



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