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A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador
Once isolated from the modern world in the heights of the Andean mountains, the indigenous communities of Ecuador now send migrants to New York City as readily as they celebrate festivals whose roots reach back to the pre-Columbian past. Fascinated by this blending of old and new and eager to make a record of traditional customs and rituals before they disappear entirely, photographer-journalist Judy Blankenship spent several years in Cañar, Ecuador, photographing the local people in their daily lives and conducting photography workshops to enable them to preserve their own visions of their culture. In this engaging book, Blankenship combines her sensitively observed photographs with an inviting text to tell the story of the most recent year she and her husband Michael spent living and working among the people of Cañar. Very much a personal account of a community undergoing change, Cañar documents such activities as plantings and harvests, religious processions, a traditional wedding, healing ceremonies, a death and funeral, and a home birth with a native midwife. Along the way, Blankenship describes how she and Michael went from being outsiders only warily accepted in the community to becoming neighbors and even godparents to some of the local children. She also explains how outside forces, from Ecuador’s failing economy to globalization, are disrupting the traditional lifeways of the Cañari as economic migration virtually empties highland communities of young people. Blankenship’s words and photographs create a moving, intimate portrait of a people trying to balance the demands of the twenty-first century with the traditions that have formed their identity for centuries.
Autobiografía e invención en el siglo XVI
First-person narrative does not always fall under the genre of autobiography. In the centuries before the genre was defined, authors often patterned their personal narratives after prestigious discourses, such as hagiography, historiography, and the literary miscellany. Caballero noble desbaratado: Autobiografía e invención en el siglo XVI [Noble Knight Disrupted: Autobiography and Invention in the Sixteenth Century] analyzes several first-person narratives from Spain and the conditions of their writing and reception. It focuses on the sixteenth-century Libro de la vida y costumbres [Book of life and customs] by Alonso Enríquez de Guzmán (1499-1547), the knight of the title. One chapter looks at antecedents to the central work: the late fourteenth-century Memorial by Leonor López de Córdoba, who narrates difficult passages of her life; the Breve suma de la vida y hechos [Brief Summary of the Life and Deeds] by Diego García de Paredes, who speaks of duels and battles as an object lesson in honor and courage for his son; and Cautiverio y trabajos [Captivity and Travails] by Diego Galán, a tale of captivity and flight in Muslim lands that constitutes an early example of fictionalized autobiography. The study also examines the influence of writers like Bartolomé de Torres Naharro, Antonio de Guevara, and Pedro Mexía and the vitality of lyric poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles has devoted a volume to Enríquez de Guzmán, there has never been a book-length study dedicated to this author. This book fills that gap and constitutes a valuable contribution to the study of autobiography in Spanish.
Trauma Narrative and Social Action in Latin American Testimonio
As if in direct response to The New Yorker's question of “The Power of the Pen: Does Literature Change Anything?” Kimberly Nance takes up the relationship between ethics and literature. With the 40th anniversary of the testimonio occurring in 2006, there has never been a better time to reconsider its role in achieving social justice. The advent of the testimonio--loosely, a political autobiography of a Latin American activist who hopes, through the telling of her life story, to bring about change--was met with a great deal of excitement by scholars who posited it as a radical new form of literature. Those accolades were almost immediately followed by a series of critical problems. In what sense were testimonios "true"? What right did privileged scholars in the U.S. have to engage accounts of suffering with traditional modes of criticism? Were questions of veracity or aesthetics more important? Were these texts autobiography or political screeds? It seemed critics didn't know quite what to make of the testimonio and so, after a brief bout of engagement, disregarded it. Nance, however, argues that any form as prolific as the testimonio is well worth examining and that these questions, rather than being insurmountable, are exactly the questions with which scholars ought to be wrestling. If, as critics claim, that the testimonio is one of the most pervasive contemporary Latin American cultural genres, then it is high time for a comprehensive study of the genre such as Nance's.
Europeans and Island Caribs, 1492–1763
Philip Boucher analyzes the images—and the realities—of European relations with the people known as Island Caribs during the first three centuries after Columbus. Based on literary sources, travelers' observations, and missionary accounts, as well as on French and English colonial archives and administrative correspondence, Cannibal Encounters offers a vivid portrait of a troubled chapter in the history of European-Amerindian relations.
The Literature of Latin America's Export Age
Between 1870 and 1930, Latin American countries were incorporated into global capitalist networks like never before, mainly as exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured goods. During this Export Age, entire regions were given over to the cultivation of export commodities such as coffee and bananas, capital and labor were relocated to new production centers, and barriers to foreign investment were removed. Capital Fictions investigates the key role played by literature in imagining and interpreting the rapid transformations unleashed by Latin America’s first major wave of capitalist modernization.
Using an innovative blend of literary and economic analysis and drawing from a rich interdisciplinary archive, Ericka Beckman provides the first extended evaluation of Export Age literary production. She traces the emergence of a distinct set of fictions, fantasies, and illusions that accompanied the rise of export-led, dependent capitalism. These “capital fictions” range from promotional pamphlets for Guatemalan coffee and advertisements for French fashions, to novels about stock market collapse in Argentina and rubber extraction in the Amazon.
Beckman explores how Export Age literature anticipated some of the key contradictions faced by contemporary capitalist societies, including extreme financial volatility, vast social inequality, and ever-more-intense means of exploitation. Questioning the opposition between culture and economics in Latin America and elsewhere, Capital Fictions shows that literature operated as a powerful form of political economy during this period.
In Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora Dance: Igniting Citizenship, Yvonne Daniel provides a sweeping cultural and historical examination of Diaspora dance genres. Daniel investigates social dances brought to the islands by Europeans and Africans, including quadrilles and drum/dances as well as popular dances that followed, such as Carnival parading, Pan-Caribbean danzas, rumba, merengue, mambo, reggae, and zouk. She reviews sacred dance and closely documents combat dances, such as Martinican ladja, Trinidadian kalinda, and Cuban juego de manÃ. In drawing on scores of performers and consultants from the region as well as on her own professional dance experience and acumen, Daniel adeptly places Caribbean dance in the context of cultural and economic globalization, connecting local practices to transnational and global processes and emphasizing the important role of dance in critical regional tourism. Throughout, Daniel reveals impromptu and long-lasting Diaspora communities of participating dancers and musicians.
Voice and Cultural Identity in the Anglophone Caribbean
From the Plantation to the Postcolonial
Bringing together the most exciting recent archival work in anglophone, francophone, and hispanophone Caribbean studies, Raphael Dalleo constructs a new literary history of the region that is both comprehensive and innovative. He examines how changes in political, economic, and social structures have produced different sets of possibilities for writers to imagine their relationship to the institutions of the public sphere. In the process, he provides a new context for rereading such major writers as Mary Seacole, José Martí, Jacques Roumain, Claude McKay, Marie Chauvet, and George Lamming while also drawing lesser-known figures into the story. Dalleo’s comparative approach will be important to Caribbeanists from all of the region’s linguistic traditions, and his book contributes even more broadly to debates in Latin American and postcolonial studies about postmodernity and globalization.
Leisure Culture and the Middle Class
It is commonly assumed that Caribbean culture is split into elite highbrow culture-which is considered derivative of Europe and not rooted in the Caribbean-and authentic working-class culture, which is often identified with such iconic island activities as salsa, carnival, calypso, and reggae. In Caribbean Middlebrow, Belinda Edmondson recovers a middle ground, a genuine popular culture in the English-speaking Caribbean that stretches back into the nineteenth century.
Edmondson shows that popular novels, beauty pageants, and music festivals are examples of Caribbean culture that are mostly created, maintained, and consumed by the Anglophone middle class. Much of middle-class culture, she finds, is further gendered as "female": women are more apt to be considered recreational readers of fiction, for example, and women's behavior outside the home is often taken as a measure of their community's respectability.
Edmondson also highlights the influence of American popular culture, especially African American popular culture, as early as the nineteenth century. This is counter to the notion that the islands were exclusively under the sway of British tastes and trends. She finds the origins of today's "dub" or spoken-word Jamaican poetry in earlier traditions of genteel dialect poetry-as exemplified by the work of the Jamaican folklorist, actress, and poet Louise "Miss Lou" Bennett Coverley-and considers the impact of early Caribbean novels, including Emmanuel Appadocca (1853) and Jane's Career (1913).