“Our America” That is Not One: Transnational Black Atlantic Disclosures in Nicolás GuillĂ©n and Langston Hughes

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-08-26 17:12Z by Steven

“Our America” That is Not One: Transnational Black Atlantic Disclosures in Nicolás GuillĂ©n and Langston Hughes

Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture
Volume 22, Number 3 (Fall 2000)
pages 87-113
DOI: 10.1353/dis.2000.0007

Monika Kaup, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington

In the past two decades, discontent with the exclusions operative in nationalist frameworks of American and Latin American Studies has placed issues of transnationalism, hybridization, and a diasporic view of cultures at the center of attention. As a provisional academic base for this desire to think more globally, scholars have invented a new tradition, so to speak the transnational and burgeoning field of hemispheric American Studies. Thus, the recent collection, José Martí’s “Our America”: From National to Hemispheric Cultural Studies, calls for such a change of paradigms. In their introduction, the editors single out Cuba, the birthplace of poet and revolutionary José Martí, as a fertile location for their project:

For Cuba lies at the intersection of Our America’s two principal transnational cultural formations: the geocultural system we have come to know as the Black Atlantic and the complex region of interactions among the Spanish, Native American, and English peoples (extending from the Caribbean to California) that we have come to call the Latino Borderlands. (Belnap and Fernández 11)

Cuba’s nationalism, from José Martí and Cuba’s late-19th century Wars of Independence to post-1959 formations under Castro, has always been a mestizo and mulato nationalism. One reason was that in Cuba abolition was not a consequence, but a condition of independence (Sommer, Foundational Fictions 125): in contrast to the U.S. and most of Latin America with the exception of Puerto Rico, Cuba achieved independence only in 1898, thanks to the full participation of Afro-Cubans in the anti-colonial wars against Spain, whose investment in Cuban independence was motivated by their desire for racial justice. Indeed, Cuba’s population in the modern era, “slightly over half Spanish in origin and slightly under half black or mulatto, with a small number of Chinese” (Bethell 20), suggests an encounter of the two distinct NewWorld diasporas known as the “Black Atlantic” and Martí’s Spanish-speaking “Our America” on equal terms.

While the discourse of mestizaje and racial amalgamation nourishes Cuba’s nationalism, and while the notion of cubanidad is built on the myth of racial synthesis, this symbolic reconciliation has repressed actual and continuing conflicts of race and their memory. Indeed, 20th century Cuban history, culture, and literature bear testimony to the uncanny reassertion of resistant diasporic black voices sublated into the dominant mestizaje nationalism. One major purpose of this essay is to examine the relationship between the Black Atlantic and José Martí’s “Our America” cultural formations intersecting in Cuba, as pointed out in the passage quoted above as a troubled and unstable one. Whereas “Our America” stands for the homecoming of Blacks in the interracial nationalism of Martí’s Latin America, the Black Atlantic stands for the continuing homelessness of Blacks in the Americas, and the memory of exile, displacement, and the violence of the Middle Passage

Read the entire article here.

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Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogues

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2009-10-21 02:07Z by Steven

Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogues

University of Texas Press
2002
6 x 9 in.
324 pp., 4 photos, 1 chart
ISBN: 978-0-292-74348-9
Print-on-demand title

Edited by

Monika Kaup, Assistant Professor of English
University of Washington, Seattle

Debra Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of English
John Carroll University

Over the last five centuries, the story of the Americas has been a story of the mixing of races and cultures. Not surprisingly, the issue of miscegenation, with its attendant fears and hopes, has been a pervasive theme in New World literature, as writers from Canada to Argentina confront the legacy of cultural hybridization and fusion.

This book takes up the challenge of transforming American literary and cultural studies into a comparative discipline by examining the dynamics of racial and cultural mixture and its opposite tendency, racial and cultural disjunction, in the literatures of the Americas. Editors Kaup and Rosenthal have brought together a distinguished set of scholars who compare the treatment of racial and cultural mixtures in literature from North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America. From various angles, they remap the Americas as a multicultural and multiracial hemisphere, with a common history of colonialism, slavery, racism, and racial and cultural hybridity.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • I. Mixed-Blood Epistemologies
    1. Werner Sollors, Can Rabbits Have Interracial Sex?
    2. Doris Sommer, Who Can Tell? The Blanks in Villaverde
    3. Zita Nunes, Phantasmatic Brazil: Nella Larsen‘s Passing, American Literary Imagination, and Racial Utopianism
  • II. MĂ©tissage and Counterdiscourse
    1. Françoise Lionnet, Narrating the Americas: Transcolonial MĂ©tissage and Maryse CondĂ©‘s La Migration des coeurs
    2. Michèle Praeger, Créolité or Ambiguity?
  • III. Indigenization, Miscegenation, and Nationalism
    1. Priscilla Archibald, Gender and Mestizaje in the Andes
    2. Debra J. Rosenthal, Race Mixture and the Representation of Indians in the U.S. and the Andes: Cumandá, Aves sin nido, The Last of the Mohicans, and Ramona
    3. Susan Gillman, The Squatter, the Don, and the Grandissimes in Our America
  • IV. Hybrid Hybridity
    1. Rafael PĂ©rez-Torres, Chicano Ethnicity, Cultural Hybridity, and the Mestizo Voice
    2. Monika Kaup, Constituting Hybridity as Hybrid: MĂ©tis Canadian and Mexican American Formations
  • V. Sites of Memory in Mixed-Race Autobiography
    1. Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Living on the River
    2. Louis Owens, The Syllogistic Mixedblood: How Roland Barthes Saved Me from the indians
  • Coda: From Exoticism to Mixed-Blood Humanism
    1. Earl E. Fitz, From Blood to Culture: Miscegenation as Metaphor for the Americas
  • Contributors
  • Works Cited
  • Index

Read the entire introduction here.

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