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The Cultural Politics of Catastrophe in Latin America
In the aftermath of disaster, literary and other cultural representations of the event can play a role in the renegotiation of political power. In Disaster Writing, Mark D. Anderson analyzes four natural disasters in Latin America that acquired national significance and symbolism through literary mediation: the 1930 cyclone in the Dominican Republic, volcanic eruptions in Central America, the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, and recurring drought in northeastern Brazil.
Taking a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the disaster narratives, Anderson explores concepts such as the social construction of risk, landscape as political and cultural geography, vulnerability as the convergence of natural hazard and social marginalization, and the cultural mediation of trauma and loss. He shows how the political and historical contexts suggest a systematic link between natural disaster and cultural politics.
Araceli Cab Cumí, Maya Poet and Politician
Discarded Pages is Cab Cumí's life narrative accompanied by her essays, poems, personal narratives, and political and public policy papers. Titled in honor of Cab Cumí's earliest writings which she had thrown away thinking them of little value, Discarded Pages showcases her expressions and thoughts within the context of her eventful and unusual life. In addition to translations of her work, Cab Cumí's original Spanish and Yucatec Maya writings are included in the book.
Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature
Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic. The relatively condensed decolonization of the anglophone islands during the 1960s and 1970s, she argues, makes literature written in English during this time especially rich for an examination of the function of madness in literary critiques of colonialism and in the Caribbean project of nation-making.
In drawing connections between madness and literature, gender, and religion, this book speaks not only to the field of Caribbean studies but also to colonial and postcolonial literature in general. The volume closes with a study of twenty-first-century literature of the Caribbean diaspora, demonstrating that Caribbean writers still turn to representations of madness to depict their changing worlds.
Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures
In 1899, the United Fruit Company (UFCO) was officially incorporated in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning an era of economic, diplomatic, and military interventions in Central America. This event marked the inception of the struggle for economic, political, and cultural autonomy in Central America as well as an era of homegrown inequities, injustices, and impunities to which Central Americans have responded in creative and critical ways. This juncture also set the conditions for the creation of the Transisthmus—a material, cultural, and symbolic site of vast intersections of people, products, and narratives. Taking 1899 as her point of departure, Ana Patricia Rodríguez offers a comprehensive, comparative, and meticulously researched book covering more than one hundred years, between 1899 and 2007, of modern cultural and literary production and modern empire-building in Central America. She examines the grand narratives of (anti)imperialism, revolution, subalternity, globalization, impunity, transnational migration, and diaspora, as well as other discursive, historical, and material configurations of the region beyond its geophysical and political confines. Focusing in particular on how the material productions and symbolic tropes of cacao, coffee, indigo, bananas, canals, waste, and transmigrant labor have shaped the transisthmian cultural and literary imaginaries, Rodríguez develops new methodological approaches for studying cultural production in Central America and its diasporas. Monumental in scope and relentlessly impassioned, this work offers new critical readings of Central American narratives and contributes to the growing field of Central American studies.
Latino/a Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper
Looking at the work of Latino/a authors who are U.S. citizens, including Junot Diaz, Cristina Garcia, and Julia Alvarez, Marta Caminero-Santangelo examines how writers are increasingly expressing their solidarity with undocumented immigrants. She similarly foregrounds the narratives of the undocumented themselves to show how they are emerging in the public sphere.
In this multifaceted issue, the voices are myriad: they challenge common interpretations of "illegal" immigration, explore the inevitable traumas and ethical dilemmas, protest their own silencing in immigration debates, and even capitalize on the topic for the commercial market. This growing body of literature is critical to understanding not only the Latino/a immigrant experience, but also alternative visions of nation and belonging.
Nonfiction Literatures in Twentieth-Century Mexico
Examines the theory and practice of nonfiction narrative literature in twentieth-century Mexico. 'In the turbulent twentieth century, large numbers of Mexicans of all social classes faced crisis and catastrophe on a seemingly continuous basis. Revolution, earthquakes, industrial disasters, political and labor unrest, as well as indigenous insurgency placed extraordinary pressures on collective and individual identity. In contemporary literary studies, nonfiction literatures have received scant attention compared to the more supposedly “creative” practices of fictional narrative, poetry, and drama. In Documents in Crisis, Beth E. Jörgensen examines a selection of both canonical and lesser-known examples of narrative nonfiction that were written in response to these crises, including the autobiography, memoir, historical essay, testimony, chronicle, and ethnographic life narrative. She addresses the relative neglect of Mexican nonfiction in criticism and theory and demonstrates its continuing relevance for writers and readers who, in spite of the contemporary blurring of boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, remain fascinated by literatures of fact.
Enlightenment in Spanish America
Why has the work of writers in eighteenth-century Latin America been forgotten? During the eighteenth century, enlightened thinkers in Spanish territories in the Americas engaged in lively exchanges with their counterparts in Europe and Anglo-America about a wide range of topics of mutual interest, responding in the context of increasing racial and economic diversification. Yet despite recent efforts to broaden our understanding of the global Enlightenment, the Ibero-American eighteenth century has often been overlooked.
Through the work of five authors--Jose de Oviedo y Banos, Juan Ignacio Molina, Felix de Azara, Catalina de Jesus Herrera, and Felix de Arrate--Domesticating Empire explores the Ibero-American Enlightenment as a project that reflects both key Enlightenment concerns and the particular preoccupations of Bourbon Spain and its territories in the Americas. At a crucial moment in Spain's imperial trajectory, these authors domesticate topics central to empire--conquest, Indians, nature, God, and gold--by making them familiar and utilitarian. As a result, their works later proved resistant to overarching schemes of Latin American literary history and have been largely forgotten. Nevertheless, eighteenth-century Ibero-American writing complicates narratives about both the Enlightenment and Latin American cultural identity.
Five Contemporary Mexican Poets
Two strands, one indigenous, the other imposed, pro-duce the poetic and cultural tensions that give form to the work of five contemporary Mexican poets -- All Chumacero, Efrain Huerta, Jaime Sabines, Ruben Bonifaz Nuno, and Rosario Castellanos. Although all five are significant figures, only Castellanos has yet been widely studied in the United States, primarily for her novels and her relations with the feminist movement.
In spite of a number of rather basic differences in their work, these poets share and write within a complicated culture rooted in both the pre-Hispanic and the European traditions. Their poetry reflects this in its emphasis on death as a constant presence and in the echoes of both Aztec ritual poetry and European poetry.
Although apparently very different formally and thematically, the five share a number of concerns. Each of them writes out of a contradictory inner tension; each is preoccupied with the effort to shape language as part of a personal voyage of discovery; each is haunted by death and seeks realization or plenitude through love of some kind. And each of them, ultimately, finds there is no escape.
As Frank Dauster concludes, "The poetry of Mexico, like its people and its society, reflects the fusion of two worlds, and these complex poets of the double strand operate freely and imaginatively within it." Although addressed primarily to specialists in Latin American literature, The Double Strand also speaks to those interested in the complex interaction between two widely differing cultural heritages, and in the rich fusion this blending produces in Mexican letters.
Writing Tusán in Peru
Race, Diaspora, and U.S. Imperialism in Haitian Literatures
From a position of urgent political engagement, this provocative book offers novel and compelling interpretations of several well-known Haitian-born authors, particularly regarding U.S. intervention in their homeland.
Drawing on the diasporic cultural texts of several authors, such as Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière, Jana Evans Braziel examines how writers participate in transnational movements for global social justice. In their fictional works they discuss the Unites States’ many interventionist methods in Haiti, including surveillance, foreign aid, and military assistance. Through their work, they reveal that the majority of Haitians do not welcome these intrusions and actively criticize U.S. treatment of Haitians in both countries.
Braziel encourages us to analyze the instability and violence of small nations like Haiti within the larger frame of international financial and military institutions and forms of imperialism. She forcefully argues that by reading these works as anti-imperialist, much can be learned about why Haitians and Haitian exiles often have negative perceptions of the U.S.