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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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The Politics of Race in Panama Cover

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The Politics of Race in Panama

The Politics of Race in Panama

Sonja Stephenson Watson

Sonja Watson examines the writing of black Panamanian authors to reveal how race is defined, contested, and inscribed in Panama. She tells the story of two competing cultures: Afro-Hispanics whose ancestors came as slaves during the colonial period and West Indians whose families arrived more recently from English-speaking Caribbean countries to build the Panama Railroad and Panama Canal.

While Afro-Hispanics assimilated after centuries of mestizaje (race mixing) and now identify with their Spanish heritage, West Indians hold to their British Caribbean roots and identify more closely with Africa and the Caribbean. The literature discussed in this book displays the cultural, racial, and national tensions that prevent these two groups from forging a shared Afro-Panamanian identity. The Politics of Race in Panama shows why ethnically diverse Afro-descendant populations continue to struggle to create racial unity in nations across Latin America.

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Properties of Modernity

Romantic Spain, Modern Europe, and the Legacies of Empire

Michael Iarocci

Michael Iarocci traces the ways in which Spain went from being central to European history and identity during the early modern period to being marginalized and displaced by England, France, and Germany during the Romantic period. He points out that it has long been an unspoken assumption tainting much of literary criticism that Spain did not have a strong Romantic movement even though Spain itself had come to be viewed by the "new" Europe as the location of all that was romantic. Through a close study of Cadalso, Saavedra, and Larra, Iarocci argues that Spanish writers were intensely concerned with the same issues taken up by more famous Romantics and that the ways in which they address these issues provides us with a richer notion, not only of Spain, but of all of Europe.

Race, Romance, and Rebellion Cover

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Race, Romance, and Rebellion

Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century

Colleen C. O'Brien

As in many literatures of the New World grappling with issues of slavery and freedom, stories of racial insurrection frequently coincided with stories of cross-racial romance in nineteenth-century U.S. print culture. Colleen O’Brien explores how authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Livermore, and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda imagined the expansion of race and gender-based rights as a hemispheric affair, drawing together the United States with Africa, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Placing less familiar women writers in conversation with their more famous contemporaries—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child—O’Brien traces the transnational progress of freedom through the antebellum cultural fascination with cross-racial relationships and insurrections. Her book mines a variety of sources—fiction, political rhetoric, popular journalism, race science, and biblical treatises—to reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.

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Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography

Emily A. Maguire

In the wake of independence from Spain in 1898, Cuba's intellectual avant-garde struggled to cast their country as a modern nation. They grappled with the challenges presented by the postcolonial situation in general and with the location of blackness within a narrative of Cuban-ness in particular.

In this breakthrough study, Emily Maguire examines how a cadre of writers reimagined the nation and re-valorized Afro-Cuban culture through a textual production that incorporated elements of the ethnographic with the literary. Singling out the work of Lydia Cabrera as emblematic of the experimentation with genre that characterized the age, Maguire constructs a series of counterpoints that place Cabrera's work in dialogue with that of her Cuban contemporaries--including Fernando Ortiz, Nicolas Guillen, and Alejo Carpentier. An illuminating final chapter on Cabrera and Zora Neale Hurston widens the scope to contextualize Cuban texts within a hemispheric movement to represent black culture.

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Rewriting Womanhood

Feminism, Subjectivity, and the Angel of the House in the Latin American Novel, 1887–1903

By Nancy LaGreca

In Rewriting Womanhood, Nancy LaGreca explores the subversive refigurings of womanhood in three novels by women writers: La hija del bandido (1887) by Refugio Barragán de Toscano (Mexico; 1846–1916), Blanca Sol (1888) by Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera (Peru; 1845–1909), and Luz y sombra (1903) by Ana Roqué (Puerto Rico; 1853–1933). While these women were both acclaimed and critiqued in their day, they have been largely overlooked by contemporary mainstream criticism. Detailed enough for experts yet accessible to undergraduates, graduate students, and the general reader, Rewriting Womanhood provides ample historical context for understanding the key women’s issues of nineteenth-century Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico; clear definitions of the psychoanalytic theories used to unearth the rewriting of the female self; and in-depth literary analyses of the feminine agency that Barragán, Cabello, and Roqué highlight in their fiction. Rewriting Womanhood reaffirms the value of three women novelists who wished to broaden the ruling-class definition of woman as mother and wife to include woman as individual for a modern era. As such, it is an important contribution to women’s studies, nineteenth-century Hispanic studies, and sexuality and gender studies.

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Rhetorical Conquests

Cortés, Gómara, and Renaissance Imperialism

by Glen Carman

This study examines Hernán Cortés, first as the author of Cartas de relación (1519-1526), and then as the protagonist of Francisco López de Gómara's Historia de la conquista de México (1552). It analyzes how these accounts represent his speech acts, including some of his key speeches; how they allow him to define the conquest in different ways to different audiences; and how they represent him as controlling the speech acts of others, most notably those of Moctezuma.

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Romantic Revisions in Novels from the Americas

by Lauren Maxwell Rule

Why are twentieth-century novelists from former British colonies in the Americas preoccupied with British Romantic poetry? In Romantic Revisions, Lauren Rule Maxwell examines five novels—Kincaid's Lucy, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Harris's Palace of the Peacock—that contain crucial scenes engaging British Romantic poetry. Each work adapts figures from British Romantic poetry and translates them into an American context. Kincaid relies on the repeated image of the daffodil, Atwood displaces Lucy, McCarthy upends the American arcadia, Fitzgerald heaps Keatsian images of excess, and Harris transforms the albatross.

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Routes and Roots

Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey

Routes and Roots is the first comparative study of Caribbean and Pacific Island literatures and the first work to bring indigenous and diaspora literary studies together in a sustained dialogue. Taking the "tidalectic" between land and sea as a dynamic starting point, Elizabeth DeLoughrey foregrounds geography and history in her exploration of how island writers inscribe the complex relation between routes and roots. The first section looks at the sea as history in literatures of the Atlantic middle passage and Pacific Island voyaging, theorizing the transoceanic imaginary. The second section turns to the land to examine indigenous epistemologies in nation-building literatures. Both sections are particularly attentive to the ways in which the metaphors of routes and roots are gendered, exploring how masculine travelers are naturalized through their voyages across feminized lands and seas. This methodology of charting transoceanic migration and landfall helps elucidate how theories and people travel, positioning island cultures in the world historical process. In fact, DeLoughrey demonstrates how these tropical island cultures helped constitute the very metropoles that deemed them peripheral to modernity. Fresh in its ideas, original in its approach, Routes and Roots engages broadly with history, anthropology, and feminist, postcolonial, Caribbean, and Pacific literary and cultural studies. It productively traverses diaspora and indigenous studies in a way that will facilitate broader discussion between these often segregated disciplines.

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Sacral Grooves, Limbo Gateways

Travels in Deep Southern Time, Circum-Caribbean Space, Afro-creole Authority

Keith Cartwright

“We’re seeing people that we didn’t know exist,” the director of FEMA acknowledged in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Sacral Grooves, Limbo Gateways offers a corrective to some of America’s institutionalized invisibilities by delving into the submerged networks of ritual performance, writing, intercultural history, and migration that have linked the coastal U.S. South with the Caribbean and the wider Atlantic world. This interdisciplinary study slips beneath the bar of rigid national and literary periods, embarking upon deeper—more rhythmic and embodied—signatures of time. It swings low through ecologies and symbolic orders of creolized space. And it reappraises pluralistic modes of knowledge, kinship, and authority that have sustained vital forms of agency (such as jazz) amid abysses of racialized trauma.

Drawing from Haitian Vodou and New Orleanian Voudou and from Cuban and South Floridian Santería, as well as from Afro-Baptist (Caribbean, Geechee, and Bahamian) models of encounters with otherness, this book reemplaces deep-southern texts within the counterclockwise ring-stepping of a long Afro-Atlantic modernity. Turning to an orphan girl’s West African initiation tale to follow a remarkably traveled body of feminine rites and writing (in works by Paule Marshall, Zora Neale Hurston, Lydia Cabrera, William Faulkner, James Weldon Johnson, and LeAnne Howe, among others), Cartwright argues that only in holistic form, emergent from gulfs of cross-cultural witness, can literary and humanistic authority find legitimacy. Without such grounding, he contends, our educational institutions blind and even poison students, bringing them to “swallow lye,” like the grandson of Phoenix Jackson in Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path.” Here, literary study may open pathways to alternative medicines—fetched by tenacious avatars like Phoenix (or an orphan Kumba or a shell-shaking Turtle)—to remedy the lies our partial histories have made us swallow.

Searching for Mr. Chin: Constructions of Nation and the Chinese in West Indian Literature Cover

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Searching for Mr. Chin: Constructions of Nation and the Chinese in West Indian Literature

What do twentieth-century fictional images of the Chinese reveal about the construction of nationhood in the former West Indian colonies? In her groundbreaking interdisciplinary work, Searching for Mr. Chin, Anne-Marie Lee-Loy seeks to map and understand a cultural process of identity formation: “Chineseness” in the West Indies.

Reading behind the stereotypical image of the Chinese in the West Indies, she compares fictional representations of Chinese characters in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana to reveal the social and racial hierarchies present in literature by popular authors such as V.S. Naipaul and Samuel Selvon, as well as lesser known writers and hard to access literary texts.

 

Using historical, discursive, and theoretical frameworks for her literary analysis, Lee-Loy shows how the unstable and ambiguous “belonging” afforded to this “middleman minority” speaks to the ways in which narrative boundaries of the nation are established. In addition to looking at how Chinese have been viewed as “others,” Lee-Loy examines self-representations of “Chineseness” and how they complicate national narratives of belonging.

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