- Ventanas sobre el Atlántico: Estados Unidos – España durante el postfranquismo (1975–2008) ed. by Carlos X Ardavín Trabanco and Jorge Marí
In this book Carlos X. Ardavín Trabanco and Jorge Marí bring together a range of perspectives on the relationship between the United States and Spain during the post-Franco period, creating, in their words, a “proyecto interdisciplinar que tiene entre sus objetivos la creación de diálogos, la apertura de nuevas perspectivas, la promoción de debates no sólo acerca de las culturas española y estadounidense sino también de las premisas, métodos y vías de análisis académico de las mismas” (18). This collection feels like a tertulia, a site of encounter in which multiple points of view, methods of inquiry, and linguistic registers combine to offer a rich intellectual experience.
The book is divided into four main parts: Literatura; Música, cine y artes visuales; Historia, ciencias políticas y gestión cultural; and Sociología, ensayismo y periodismo. Each of these parts, in turn, is comprised of two sections: ensayos, dedicated to article-length scholarly analyses, and testimonios, short pieces that present more personal, subjective (at times fictionalized) views of life at the intersection between Spain and the United States. The book concludes with “113 paradojas,” a polemicizing view of Hispanism from the pen of Eduardo Subirats.
One of the main themes running through this volume is Spanish anti-Americanism, its origins, permutations, and rhetoric. On this topic, Ardavín Trabanco’s essay provides useful critiques of works by Amando de Miguel, Vicente Verdú, and Moncho Tamames, among others, in which he exposes many of the tropes, commonplaces, and deficient argumentation deployed by Spanish (and European) writers who have sought to criticize all things American. José Luis González Esteban discusses the 2003 death of Spanish journalist José Couso within the larger historical context of anti-Americanism in Spain. William Nichols analyzes Spanish filmic representations of business and corporate culture in which anti-American sentiment is linked to a distrust of a capitalism that threatens to “‘deshumanizar’ a los personajes y ‘desterritorializarlos’ bajo una redefinición de la identidad nacional dentro de los preceptos del mercado libre” (119), a process that is seen as a kind of “invasión americana” (128). By contrast, many of the testimonios offered in the book describe the largely positive experiences of Spanish artists, writers, and scholars living and working in the U.S. Taken as a whole, this collection moves the reader toward a rich, nuanced view of Spanish attitudes toward America. [End Page 147]
Less well represented here are American views on Spain. While the editors affirm that their project examines “algunas de las representaciones, interacciones y relaciones mutuas que se han venido produciendo entre España y EE.UU. desde 1975 hasta 2008” (18), this examination might have been more balanced had it included testimonios from Americans on their Iberian experiences, as well as more analysis of representations of Spain in American cultural production. In another sense, though, a certain kind of American perspective is woven into the collection on a methodological level; one notes the influence of American critical approaches in many of the essays, whose effectiveness in opening up new perspectives attests to the vitality of American Hispanism and its flourishing interdisciplinarity. In spite of Subirats’s affirmation that “Pensar entre hispanistas es paradójico porque sólo admiten modelos prêt-à-porter, no ven sino lo déjà vu y no aprueban más que los ready made” (240), essays by Silvia Bermúdez, Justin Crumbaugh, José F. Colmeiro, William M. Sherzer, and the above-mentioned William Nichols demonstrate the success many American-trained Hispanists are achieving in combining social, cultural, and political analysis with the examination of specific cultural products.
Ventanas sobre el Atlántico is a stimulating collection that will be of interest to both specialists and students. One hopes that future scholars will continue its project of...