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Conclusion Sensing the Irresolute Past in the Present In Fanon’s seminal study of the modalities of colonial violence, he argues that in a colonized world, it is education, particularly in relation to “aesthetic forms of the status quo,” that helps to maintain divisions at all levels of society. Fanon writes, “In capitalist societies, education, whether secular or religious, the teaching of moral reflexes handed down from father to son, the exemplary integrity of workers decorated after fifty years of loyal and faithful service, the fostering of love for harmony and wisdom, those aesthetic forms of respect for the status quo, instill in the exploited a mood of submission and inhibition which considerably eases the task of agents of law and order” (Fanon 3–4). In addition to these insights, which are as relevant and timely today as they were in the early 1960s, I also see Fanon’s sense of “the aesthetic forms of the status quo” as related to modes of learning and knowing, which are used to regulate what is learned and how such knowledge is consumed. Put differently, I read Fanon’s use of the aesthetic as a way to regulate how forms of knowledge, including art and aesthetics, are sensed. In this light, Sensing Decolonial Aesthetics aims to make an intervention in the ways we understand the cultural historiography of the 1960s and early 1970s in Latin America. To place my book into perspective, in a 1984 volume of Social Text dedicated to a re-evaluation of the 1960s, the editors echoed the Gramscian use of hegemony in relation to the neoconservative backlash against the countercultural values of the 1960s. As noted 214 · Sensing Decolonial Aesthetics in Latin American Arts by the editors of this volume, “Gramsci’s term of hegemony remains the most convenient shorthand . . . [to understand] a conflict which includes contests over interpretations of history” (Sayres et al. 8). If hegemony names the struggles over historical interpretations and ideological tensions related to the 1960s, a broadening of our understanding of the period is necessary to elicit re-evaluations and reinterpretations of what cultural texts of the sixties have come to mean beyond neoconservative, nostalgic, or apologetic positions that seek either to diminish or magnify the significance of that decade. Moreover, the editors of the same volume note that “visions of history play an enormous—if incalculable—role in people’s political practice in the present: and this all the more when the interpretation in question is a matter, not of ‘attitudes’ towards a bygone age like the era of the Wobblies or of the American Revolution, but rather of people’s immediate past” (Sayres et al. 8). While the volume was edited in the mid-1980s, the urgency of the editors’ intervention against what they perceived as the “trashing” of or backlash against the legacy of the sixties is still present and much-needed. Whereas our distance from the 1960s grows with each passing year (obviously this decade is not as immediate now as it was in 1984 when the Social Text volume appeared), the call for a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of Latin America’s past has recently become quite urgent given the cultural and political developments in the region, its shift toward what political scientists have named the “pink tide” over the last decade, and what might come after that tide. In contemporary Latin America’s cultural and political terrains, we have seen similar gradations in the left as in the past. There are those who stand to the more “radical” left (Hugo Chavez, Nicolás Maduro, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa). There are also other leaders (Daniel Ortega, Luiz Inácio “Lula” Da Silva, Dilma Rousseff, José Mujica) who participated in social and political movements during the 1970s and 1980s and still maintain some affinities with the left, while being receptive to the economic demands of Latin America ’s “post-neoliberalism,” the ensuing effects of the global economic crisis, and the maneuvering of strong political opposition emerging from their respective countries. As Sergio Chejfec reminds us about literary and cultural production of the 1960s and 1970s: Conclusion: Sensing the Irresolute Past in the Present · 215 We live in a time in which socioeconomic conditions have, generally speaking, not gotten better but instead have either deteriorated or been fundamentally altered. These outdated works, therefore, speak to us of an antiquated understanding, obsolete in many ways, yet authentic in its transitory moment: this past offers both a promise and a threat...


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