- "Imperial Disclosures"
This special issue of Discourse explores colonialist, neo-colonialist and imperial paradigms in countries that are or have been under the political jurisdiction of Spain, Portugal, or the United States. In an effort to avoid simplistic dichotomies, we specifically looked for critical perspectives that explored both the colonial and/or imperial past of these countries and current internal/domestic imperial and colonizing processes (at the political, economic, linguistic, and cultural levels). The essays represented here seek to uncover, from many different critical angles, the legal and epistemological framework of the new supranational empires as well as the historical amnesia and erasures characteristic of colonialist and imperialist traditions. "We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember because we were traveling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign—and no memories," wrote Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness.
Ranging in subject matter from the Bilbao Guggenheim to the Washington Smithsonian, from Hawaiian rap to salsa music, from Spielberg's films to Spanish cinema, from the Spanish Renaissance to the Harlem Renaissance, these articles, in their content and juxtaposition, will help to challenge the implicit hierarchies still operative in academia (as a domain of knowledge and cultural production). Written by Mexican, Basque, Hawaiian, Argentinean, Puerto Rican, English, North American, German, U.S. Latina/Latino and Colombian scholars (many of whom live and work outside of their native countries and languages), this collection of essays stands as a [End Page 4] possible example of how to implement a decolonization of scholarship. To paraphrase Walter Mignolo, decolonizing scholarship will also teach us to think with, against and beyond the legacy of Western epistemology. We hope that these essays would be, in the words of Emma Pérez " . . . caught in the time lag between the colonial and the postcolonial, in a decolonial imaginary reinscribing the old with the new. . . . between what has been, what is, and what many of us hope will be." Above all, to re-write Conrad, we no longer want to be cut off from the understanding of our surroundings, of our phantoms and of our secrets, we want to be insane and participate in the enthusiastic outbreak in the madhouse. Let us live, as Pérez suggests in The Decolonial Imaginary, all at once, in the past, the present, and the future. [End Page 5]
L. Elena Delgado is Associate Professor of Spanish, Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois (Urbana). She is a specialist in modern and contemporary Spanish literature and cultural studies. She has written a book (La imagen elusiva, 2000) and several articles on a wide variety of subjects, from the realist Spanish novel to contemporary debates over nationalisms and Spanish national identity. She is currently at work on a book tentatively entitled Constructions of Difference: Spanish Culture and the Antinomies of Exceptionalism, which (re)locates the highly debated issue of Spain's cultural "difference" in the context of a general discussion on peripheral European modernities and rationalities.
Rolando J. Romero is Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Romero is the founding director of the Latina/Latino Studies Program at Illinois, and is the general editor of Discourse: Journal in Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture. He has published essays in Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Confluencia, and Revista Iberoamericana, among others. His essay on Blade Runner "The Postmodern Hybrid: Do Aliens Dream of Alien Sheep" is forthcoming in The Effects of the Nation: Mexican Art in the Age of Globalization (Temple UP) edited by Carl Good. Romero's most recent publication, "The Alamo, Slavery and the Politics of Memory," is forthcoming in Millenial Anxieties, edited by Arturo Aldama (Indiana UP). Prof. Romero served as chief academic consultant for the PBS documentary "Indigenous Always," which explores the life of La Malinche.