The question of non-Western difference has come to feature prominently across the field of comparative rhetoric, where it is often presupposed that an irreducible difference separates Western from non-Western rhetorical and cultural production. It is on the basis of this presupposition that critics have established a politics of comparative inquiry, whereby restituting the pure consciousness of a non-Western subaltern subject is understood to subvert the hegemony of Western thought. But what exactly is the nature of this difference? In this article I examine the recent turn toward Latin America in the field of comparative rhetoric to argue that this presupposition serves as a constitutive topos—that the object of Latin America is invented rhetorically in the very act of comparative inquiry—and that this presupposition yields a political impasse that the field has yet to think through. Drawing on recent work in Latin American studies, I argue for a rearticulated notion of subalternity as a methodological approach for dealing with this impasse.


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pp. 124-150
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