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Ambiguity and Gender in the New Novel of Brazil and Spanish America

A Comparative Assessment

Payne, Judith A.

In this first book-length study to compare the "new novels" of both Spanish America and Brazil, the authors deftly examine the differing perceptions of ambiguity as they apply to questions of gender and the participation of females and males in the establishment of Latin American narrative models. Their daring thesis: the Brazilian new novel developed a more radical form than its better-known Spanish-speaking cousin because it had a significantly different approach to the crucial issues of ambiguity and gender and because so many of its major practitioners were women.

As a wise strategy for assessing the canonical new novels from Latin America, the coupling of ambiguity and gender enables Payne and Fitz to discuss how borders--literary, generic, and cultural--are maintained, challenged, or crossed. Their conclusions illuminate the contributions of the new novel in terms of experimental structures and narrative techniques as well as the significant roles of voice, theme, and language. Using Jungian theory and a poststructural optic, the authors also demonstrate how the Latin American new novel faces such universal subjects as myth, time, truth, and reality. Perhaps the most original aspect of their study lies in its analysis of Brazil's strong female tradition. Here, issues such as alternative visions, contrasexuality, self-consciousness, and ontological speculation gain new meaning for the future of the novel in Latin America.

With its comparative approach and its many bilingual quotations, Ambiguity and Gender in the New Novel of Brazil and Spanish America offers an engaging picture of the marked differences between the literary traditions of Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking America and, thus, new insights into the distinctive mindsets of these linguistic cultures.

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Ambitious Rebels

Remaking Honor, Law, and Liberalism in Venezuela, 1780-1850

Reuben Zahler

Murder, street brawls, marital squabbles, infidelity, official corruption, public insults, and rebellion are just a few of the social layers Reuben Zahler investigates as he studies the dramatic shifts in Venezuela as it transformed from a Spanish colony to a modern republic. His book Ambitious Rebels illuminates the enormous changes in honor, law, and political culture that occurred and how ordinary men and women promoted or rejected those changes.

In a highly engaging style, Zahler examines gender and class against the backdrop of Venezuelan institutions and culture during the late colonial period through post-independence (known as the “middle period”). His fine-grained analysis shows that liberal ideals permeated the elite and popular classes to a substantial degree while Venezuelan institutions enjoyed impressive levels of success. Showing remarkable ambition, Venezuela’s leaders aspired to transform a colony that adhered to the king, the church, and tradition into a liberal republic with minimal state intervention, a capitalistic economy, freedom of expression and religion, and an elected, representative government.

Subtle but surprisingly profound changes of a liberal nature occurred, as evidenced by evolving standards of honor, appropriate gender roles, class and race relations, official conduct, courtroom evidence, press coverage, economic behavior, and church-state relations. This analysis of the philosophy of the elites and the daily lives of common men and women reveals in particular the unwritten, unofficial norms that lacked legal sanction but still greatly affected political structures.

Relying on extensive archival resources, Zahler focuses on Venezuela but provides a broader perspective on Latin American history. His examination provides a comprehensive look at intellectual exchange across the Atlantic, comparative conditions throughout the Americas, and the tension between traditional norms and new liberal standards in a postcolonial society.

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American Crossings

Border Politics in the Western Hemisphere

edited by Maiah Jaskoski, Arturo C. Sotomayor, and Harold A. Trinkunas

In summer 2014, US agencies responsible for the border with Mexico were overwhelmed by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America. Unprepared to address this unexpected kind of migrant, the US government deployed troops to carry out a new border mission: the feeding, care, and housing of this wave of children. This event highlights the complex social, economic, and political issues that arise along borders. In American Crossings, nine scholars consider the complicated modern history of borders in the Western Hemisphere, examining borders as geopolitical boundaries, key locations for internal security, spaces for international trade, and areas where national and community identities are defined. Among the provocative questions raised are, Why are Peru and Chile inclined to legalize territory disputes through the International Court of Justice, undermining their militaries? Why has economic integration in the “Tri-Border Area” of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay increased illicit trade supporting transnational terrorist groups? And how has a weak Ecuadorian presence at the Ecuador−Colombia border encouraged Colombian guerrillas to enforce the international borderline?

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American Imperialism's Undead

The Occupation of Haiti and the Rise of Caribbean Anticolonialism

Raphael Dalleo

As modern Caribbean politics and literature emerged in the first half of the twentieth century, Haiti, as the region's first independent state, stood as a source of inspiration for imagining decolonization and rooting regional identity in Africanness. Yet at precisely the same moment that anticolonialism was spreading throughout the Caribbean, Haiti itself was occupied by U.S. marines, a fact that regional political and cultural histories too often overlook. In American Imperialism’s Undead, Raphael Dalleo examines how Caribbean literature and activism emerged in the shadow of the U.S. military occupation of Haiti (1915-34) and how that presence influenced the development of anticolonialism throughout the region.

The occupation was a generative event for Caribbean activists such as C. L. R. James, George Padmore, and Marcus and Amy Jacques Garvey as well as for writers such as Claude McKay, Eric Walrond, and Alejo Carpentier. Dalleo provides new ways of understanding these luminaries, while also showing how other important figures such as Aimé Césaire, Arturo Schomburg, Claudia Jones, Frantz Fanon, Amy Ashwood Garvey, H. G. De Lisser, Luis Palés Matos, George Lamming, and Jean Rhys can be contextualized in terms of the occupation. By examining Caribbean responses to Haiti’s occupation, Dalleo underscores U.S. imperialism as a crucial if unspoken influence on anticolonial discourses and decolonization in the region. Without acknowledging the significance of the occupation of Haiti, our understanding of Atlantic history cannot be complete.

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American Sugar Kingdom

The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean, 1898-1934

César J. Ayala

Engaging conventional arguments that the persistence of plantations is the cause of economic underdevelopment in the Caribbean, this book focuses on the discontinuities in the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century. César Ayala analyzes and compares the explosive growth of sugar production in the three nations following the War of 1898--when the U.S. acquired Cuba and Puerto Rico--to show how closely the development of the Spanish Caribbean's modern economic and social class systems is linked to the history of the U.S. sugar industry during its greatest period of expansion and consolidation. Ayala examines patterns of investment and principal groups of investors, interactions between U.S. capitalists and native planters, contrasts between new and old regions of sugar monoculture, the historical formation of the working class on sugar plantations, and patterns of labor migration. In contrast to most studies of the Spanish Caribbean, which focus on only one country, his account places the history of U.S. colonialism in the region, and the history of plantation agriculture across the region, in comparative perspective. This comparative study of the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century shows how their economic and social class systems were shaped by the explosive growth of American sugar companies. Engaging conventional arguments that the persistence of plantations is the cause of economic underdevelopment in the Caribbean, this book focuses on the discontinuities in the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century. César Ayala analyzes and compares the explosive growth of sugar production in the three nations following the War of 1898--when the U.S. acquired Cuba and Puerto Rico--to show how closely the development of the Spanish Caribbean's modern economic and social class systems is linked to the history of the U.S. sugar industry during its greatest period of expansion and consolidation. Ayala examines patterns of investment and principal groups of investors, interactions between U.S. capitalists and native planters, contrasts between new and old regions of sugar monoculture, the historical formation of the working class on sugar plantations, and patterns of labor migration. In contrast to most studies of the Spanish Caribbean, which focus on only one country, his account places the history of U.S. colonialism in the region, and the history of plantation agriculture across the region, in comparative perspective.

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Americans All

Good Neighbor Cultural Diplomacy in World War II

By Darlene Sadlier

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The Americans are Coming!

For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes”—a group that included African Americans and black West Indians—established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. Though African Americans suffered under Jim Crow racial discrimination, oppressed Africans saw African Americans as free people who had risen from slavery to success and were role models and potential liberators. Many African Americans, regarded initially by the South African government as “honorary whites” exempt from segregation, also saw their activities in South Africa as a divinely ordained mission to establish “Africa for Africans,” liberated from European empires. The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black-led movement with two million members and supporters in forty-three countries at its height in the early 1920s, was the most anticipated source of liberation. Though these liberation prophecies went unfulfilled, black South Africans continued to view African Americans as inspirational models and as critical partners in the global antiapartheid struggle. The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies. 

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Americans in the Treasure House

Travel to Porfirian Mexico and the Cultural Politics of Empire

By Jason Ruiz

Through extensive engagement with archival sources, this book traces the history of travel to Mexico during the Porfiriato and the Revolution, exploring how travelers’ representations created an image of Mexico as a country requiring foreign intervention to reach its full potential.

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The Americas

Vol. 57, no. 2 (2000) through current issue

Since its founding in 1944, The Americas (TAm) has been one of the principal English-language journals of Latin American history. It publishes articles on all chronological periods of Latin American, Spanish borderlands, and related Iberian scholarship. The journal includes an extensive book review section and a compilation of news and notes of general interest to Latin Americanists.

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Anay's Will to Learn

A Woman's Education in the Shadow of the Maquiladoras

By Elaine Hampton with Anay Palomeque de Carrillo

This ethnographic case study provides a personal view of a maquiladora worker’s struggles with factory labor conditions, poverty, and violence as she journeys toward education, financial opportunity, and, ultimately, empowerment.

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