- Guest Editors' Introduction:After the Third World
If Monsanto (for example) can make use of multiculturalism as advertising, as justification for yet more seizure of resources, and as diversity management among its work force, should we be surprised and dismayed, or should we work to make what the term named, a challenge to material domination in the sphere of education and knowledge production exercised as the Enlightenment right of a single and erroneously described "culture," a project with ever-renewed and sharpened ambitions? . . . Call the project what you will and rename it every time the older name seems to lose its luster, but continue the work that the project once tried to name in its moment.—Wahneema Lubiano (Dean, "By Any Other Name")
Twenty-one years ago, as part of an international movement, four UT-Austin English professors, supported by stalwart colleagues in a wide range of fields and in solidarity with similarly emergent academic programs, [End Page 1] created an institutional space at The University of Texas at Austin for what were at the time understudied ethnic and third world literatures. This space took the form of a graduate student concentration and the program has in the intervening years become nationally recognized as among the strongest in its field. Looking back over the past twenty years of shared intellectual labor on the part of colleagues from within our group and across the field of ethnic and third-world literary studies more broadly, this CR: The New Centennial Review probes critical perspectives on the future of our scholarship in terms of organizing rubrics, old and new archives, intransigent and recurring questions, and changing historical and institutional landscapes.
We hope this special issue of CR will remember the national in the transnational, shifts in the domestic context of the United States, as well as the continuities in the struggles for a more just world both home and abroad, and will pose with humility the audacious question of the relevance and enabling conditions of social science- and humanities-based academic scholarship after the third world.
An Inter/National Context
Major scenes of unrest in the early 1990s on the national and global stage might offer clues in our investigation "after the third world": the armed Mohawk resistance at the Kahnesatake settlement near Oka, Quebec, to the construction of a golf course (September 1990); the LA Uprising that took place after the police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted (late April and early May 1992); the Battle of Mogadishu or Day of the Rangers, when militiamen and armed civilians under Mohamed Farrah Aidid battled U.N. and U.S. forces, effectively ending the United Nations Mission in Somalia (October 1993); the formation of the Zapatista National Liberation Army and its uprising in response to NAFTA (January 1994). These events violently revised intersecting national narratives about American values at home and abroad in the post-civil rights, post-Cold War era. The LA riots were a powerful sign that in fact race still mattered in a historical period defined by allegedly race-neutral legislation. Mogadishu further signaled that the exportation of this American multiculturalism internationally would [End Page 2] meet equally violent ends. As inflections of global apartheid, the events in Quebec and Chiapas at once showed the long historical reach and the local impact of the old colonialism.
When George H. W. Bush addressed the nation in the days following the "civil disturbances" in Los Angeles in the spring of 1992, he placed riots within a global context in which domestic racial harmony was critical to the United States' international political and economic interests: "We must understand that no one in Los Angeles or any other city has rendered a verdict on America. If we are to remain the most vibrant and hopeful nation on Earth we must allow our diversity to bring us together, not drive us apart" ("Address to the Nation"). Bush here echoes his own "New World Order" speech given at the beginning of the first Gulf War (September 11, 1990). Inspired by the cooperation of coalition...