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Title: Latin American postcolonial theories., By: Castro-Gomez, Santiago, Peace Review, 10402659, Mar98, Vol. 10, Issue 1 Database: Academic Search Premier


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During the late 1970s a new field of investigation called "postcolonial studies" began to consolidate itself in Western universities, especially those in Britain RECOMMENDED and the United States. The discourses emerged from influential university READINGS chairs held by refugees or sons and daughters of foreigners and immigrants. These individuals were socialized in two worlds differing in language, religion, traditions, and socio-political organization. They were acquainted with both the world of colonized nations, which they or their parents abandoned for some reason or another, and the world of industrialized countries in which they live and work today as intellectuals or academics. At a time when postmodern, structuralist, and feminist theory enjoyed a privileged position in the intellectual AngloSaxon world, these people considered themselves to be "Third World intellectuals of the First World," thus defining the form in which they began to reflect on problems relating to colonialism.

Departing from institutionally accepted studies such as anthropology, literary criticism, ethnology, and historiography, postcolonial theorists articulated a critique of colonialism which substantially differs from anticolonial narratives of the 1960s and 1970s. During that period academic circles popularized a type of discourse which emphasized the revolutionary rupture from the capitalist system of colonial domination. Working within the geopolitical spaces opened by the Cold War, as well as the environments created by Asian and African independence movements, this discourse focused on the fortification of national identities of colonized countries and the construction of a society free from class antagonism. The critique of colonialism was understood as a rupture from the structures of oppression which had impeded the "Third World" from realizing the European project of modernity. However, anticolonialist narratives never pondered the epistemological status of their own discourse. Such criticism arose from methodologies pertaining to the social sciences, the humanities, and philosophy-fields of study that had been developed by European modernism since the 19th century. Economic dependence, the destruction of cultural identity, the growing poverty of the majority of the population, and the discrimination of minorities were all phenomena considered to be "deviations" from modernity. All of these maladies, it was thought, could be rectified through revolution and the popular sector's seizure of power. These popular sectors, not the bourgeoisie, would be the true "subjects of history," those who would carry out the project of "humanizing humanity," which in turn would be realized within colonized nations themselves. What postcolonial theorists began to realize is that the very language of modernity, with which anticolonialists expressed themselves, is essentially located within the totalizing practices of European colonialism. Third World critiques of colonialism, narratives theoretically based on sociology, economics, and the political sciences, could not leave behind the space in which these disciplines reiterated the hegemonic language of modernity in colonized countries. Following the thesis of Jacques Derrida, the Indian philosopher Gayatri Spivak affirms that no socially diagnostic discourse can transcend the homogenizing structures of modern rationality. This means that no sociological theory


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historiographic. The Indian philosopher Homi Bhabha.ezproxy. which made the masses." "alterity. considered to be vestigia Dei." Rural insurrections. another central figure in postcolonial discourse. Dipesh Chakrabarty. the emphasis of anticolonial narratives on opposition. The institutional implementation of these new objects of knowledge/investigation demanded the importation of "practical examples" from the "Third World. It is perhaps Edward Said who has had the most impact in postcolonial discourse. The demystification of anticolonialist nationalism also includes a harsh critique of the imperial rhetoric of English Marxism. in reality objects of and subject to technical manipulation.edu. and other nationalist leaders. liberation theology. such as demonstrations. and ethnological discourses about the "other. sociological." From this point of view." then." such as in the creation of objects and subjects of knowledge. This French philosopher had studied the rules that outlined the truth of a discourse. especially those found under their territorial control.lib. written agendas. In studying the diverse textual formats with which Europe produces and codifies knowledge about the "Orient.au/ehost/detai…76b9c-320a-49e1-8e44-bd1079f8a571%40sessionmgr9#AN0000459827-2 Page 2 of 6 . The works of this group. morally superior to the colonizers. Partha Chatterjee. warranted the production of a series of historical. the politics of interpretation define the frontiers that separate one scientific discipline from another and assign determined parcels of knowledge. noticed Said's critical study. Furthermore. the European project of colonial expansion needed to create the metaphysical self-image of conqueror: that of "Man" as god. publishing houses." Said emphasizes the connections between imperialism and the human sciences. were understood as manifestations of a recently acquired (social and moral) "consciousness.) that a theory's "effects of truth" are produced. the homogenizing schemes of http://web. also criticized the institutional mechanisms that produced representations of the "other" and projected it as an entity easily obscured by modernity's ethnological. India's fight for independence amidst the threat of British domination was presented in the narratives as a process rooted in the "universal ethic" fleeced by the colonizers. In many metropolitan universities "marginality." critiqued the anticolonial." During the early 1980s a group of Indian intellectuals. and political elites. later compiled under the name "subaltern studies. identified with the historian Ranajid Guha. and other authors considered such narratives to be colonialist constructions projected on to the Indian people by social scientists.com. Said elaborates on this and explores the way in which European colonialist societies discursively constructed an image of nonmetropolitan cultures. centers of investigation." such as magical realism. is replaced by vestigia hominis. etc." "exteriorized" space which agreed with the reconfiguration of intellectual strongholds experienced by institutions responsible for creating new knowledge. and any other subjects that could be classified within the space of "otherness. succeeded in strengthening the binary system of classification inherent to metropolitan apparatuses that produce knowledge. geographic. and well advised programs of political action. the movement used the exact same discursive figures that had succeeded in legitimating European overseas colonialism.ebscohost." Since the Indian masses lacked the sociohistorical literacy in which to base their politically subversive activities. nationalist discourse of the Indian political class and the official historiography of the independence movement. center and periphery. thereby following the line of thought delineated in the 1970s by European theorists like Michel Foucault." and "Third Worldism" were even converted into new fields of academic investigation capable of mobilizing a considerable amount of financial assistance. It is always anticipated that scientific knowledge is codified within the interior of a fabric of signs that regulate the production of "meaning. maker of the world. Ranajid Guha. In other words.EBSCOhost 06/24/2007 12:53 AM can "represent" objects found outside the totality of signs that configure the institutionality of knowledge in modern societies. One may then conclude that the narration of the independence movement mirrored the Christian-humanist project of universal redemption. which employed distant examples of anti-imperialist struggles of the "Third World" in order to politically legitimate itself"at home. anthropological. such as the divisions between the oppressors and the oppressed. historians. owner and master of his own historic destiny.unimelb. The limitless power European imperialist forces exercised upon every aspect of a locality. It is from a certain "politics of interpretation. civilization and barbarism. Nehru. the powerful and the meek. but efficaciously recuperated by Gandhi. by dint of their oppression. The once sacred space of the world. In order to legitimate itself. According to the subalternists. archaeological. (actualized in universities. and linguistic discourses. from its territorial boundaries to its traditional culture. Anticolonialist narratives discursively generated a "marginalized. this reliance on a supposed "moral exteriority" contained the Christian rhetoric of victimization. showing where truth was constructed and how it circulated and was administered by determined instances of power.

"Area Studies. Beverley reveals that the institutional organization of such literature programs follows the hegemonic ideology of imperialism. Alberto Moreiras. In Literature and Politics (1990) he advanced that literary theory is not a mere superstructural reflection of the economic sphere. the authors exercised a "politics of representation. peasants. In the early 1990s. with their emphasis on the centrality of intellectuals and erudition. presented as a series of literary.au/ehost/detai…76b9c-320a-49e1-8e44-bd1079f8a571%40sessionmgr9#AN0000459827-2 Page 3 of 6 . political. the financial aid programs for the modernization of the "Third World. the consolidation of theoretical representations of Latin America produced from the human and social sciences. John Beverley seeks to break from the humanistic view concerning intellectuals in order to arrive at post-representational forms of theory. Indians. blacks. and sociological representations. John Beverley. Latin Americanism. In fact. English.com. The postcolonial criticism of Said. but rather a discourse involved in http://web. and French literature departments exist because Spain. the same elites who." and "Latin American Studies" in particular. homosexuals.ezproxy. and contrasting identities. as Spivak would say.ebscohost. structurally conceals difference. The emergence of the United States as the triumphant power during the Second World War." the political struggle against the expansion of communism in the southern part of South America--all of these factors must have acted as empirico-transcendental conditions of possibility for Latin Americanist discourse in North American universities. Following Foucault's thesis. Spanish. Polish and Romanian literatures. that is. The subaltern is thus assigned a place in the temporal succession of history. Authorized by their privilege. In the following pages I would like to examine closely the specific premises of two members of the group: John Beverley and Walter Mignolo. philosophical. Beverley argues that structures of the university apparatus offer professors and students material that is already reified. is identified as a disciplinary mechanism in accord with the imperialist interests of North America's foreign policy. Ileana Rodriguez." the postmodern globalization of the American way of life during the phase called "late capitalism. Sarmiento.lib. are not given whole departments.EBSCOhost 06/24/2007 12:53 AM sociological and historiographic discourses ignored and subsequently left their protagonist position unwritten. They are. encouraged the neocolonialist project of the nation state. to name a few canonical examples. and France had important empires. acted from a privileged position secured by literature and the humanities. They adopted Indian criticism and established a postcolonial restoration aptly named "Latin American Studies. varied spaces. all humanistic studies. find themselves symbiotically incorporated in literature programs present in almost all universities. According to Guha. Similarly to the misrepresentation of India. "packaged. and is shown the "correct" path from which he/she should base his/her political revindications. have traditionally functioned as discourses inscribed in a bureaucraticacademic rationality that homogenizes the social. Beverley's criticisms are mainly directed toward the type of literary and humanistic discourse which predominates in Latin American literature departments in the U. England. Viswanathan." from which his/her interests are represented." while at the same time literatures from Romania and Poland are studied within the context of"Slavic Languages. the United States' "official historiography" of Latin America. They seek to formulate a critique of modernity's epistemological strategies of subalternization in hopes of moving toward the locus enuntiationis (the site of enunciation) from which subaltern subjects may articulate their own representations. Literature and all other humanistic fields of study appeared to be structurally inscribed within exclusive hegemonic systems. thinkers in the United States like Walter Mignolo." The humanities were converted into the space from which the subaltern is discursively "produced. since the 19th century. Intellectuals like Bello. and sexual differences of Latin American societies. functioned as strategies of subalternization in the hands of the educated elites of India. In many universities Latin American literature exists as a subdivision of the "Romance languages. economic. and Norma Alarcon began to reflect upon the political function of Latin American studies in the North American university and society." According to the aforementioned authors.S. Bhabha. and Spivak stresses the persistence of colonial legacies within modern systems. on the other hand. the insane. Latin American nationalism emerged from a disciplinary logic that "subalternized" a series of social subjects: women.edu. Beverley posits that literature was an example of the elites' humanistic training. humanist epistemologies. and other Indian authors." Like Guha. Thus. as evidenced by representations of the "other" generated by the social sciences which bureaucratic rationality politically administers. including literature and historiography. and Marti. essentialist narratives still subject to colonial epistemologies which obscure cultural hybridizations. etc.unimelb. Guha." into rigid canonical schemata that have defined Latin American literature.

historiographical.au/ehost/detai…76b9c-320a-49e1-8e44-bd1079f8a571%40sessionmgr9#AN0000459827-2 Page 4 of 6 . Derrida) and the United States (Jameson). In this work. They are: postmodernity." the literary critic may be capable of efficaciously acting within the boundaries that Michel de Certau calls a "micropolitics of the mundane. postcolonialism. "Third World" countries were recognized only as receptors of such scientific knowledge. These strategies cannot be interpreted as mere "pathologies. and the massacre of Jews in Europe. postoccidental theories began to emerge in Latin America after 1918. Lyotard. after Dussel. like Bhabha and Spivak. in Against Literature (1993). Mignolo tries to investigate the "local sensitivities" that accommodated the emergence of postcolonial theories in Latin America. Theorists like Jose Carlos Mariategui. Bhabha." which should raise the intellectual's consciousness regarding what Spivak calls the "epistemic violence" attached to his/her heroic fantasies. In fact." the site where social conflicts more closely affect his/her own life. Leopoldo Zea. Liberated from his/her "will of representation. These are differentiated voices capable of representing themselves. postcolonial theories deal with the crisis from the colonial perspective of countries that had attained their independence after the Second World War. as is the case with Rigoberta Menchu and the Zapatista Army of Liberation. as they are reproduced by North American academia. The critique of the "teaching machine" is politically relevant because it annuls the legitimacy of modernity's universalizing paradigms.ebscohost." which functioned as colonialist strategies of subalternization. Walter Mignolo also comments on the authority of the canon in North American universities. Beverley understands struggle as a deconstruction of the humanistic discourses that formed the patriarchal subject and the modern bourgeois. But. linguistic. Later. is "naturally" the origin of postoccidental theories." "The West Indies. this Argentine thinker proposed to demonstrate that during the 16th century." According to Mignolo's research. a "psychoanalysis of literature. The paradigms rendered European colonialist practices as irrelevant in modern processes responsible for organizing knowledge. as well as in previous writings. what occurs once the old European colonialist agenda is dissolved and the balance of the world order established during the Cold War falters? Mignolo posits that three types of theory stemming from different loci of enunciation will emerge and epistemologically exceed the colonial legacies of modernity. thinks that this model corresponds to a very specific locus rooted in India's British colonial legacy. and postoccidentalism. Rodolfo Kusch. like "America. Instead of converting Indian postcolonial theory into a model exportable to other peripheral zones. In his magnificent book The Darker Side of the Renaissance. he presents the university as an institution in which almost all hegemonic and counterhegemonic societal struggles occur. Mignolo. Mignolo reveals that modern science produces objects of knowledge. When Mignolo talks about "postcolonial theories" he refers to. While postmodern theories express the crisis of modernity's project within Europe (Foucault. Latin America. non-literary practice that resists representation in the "critical discourse" of intellectuals. which defines the true territories of knowledge about "Latin America. Beverley considers criticism of humanistic discourses that deal with Latin America as liberating therapy." but rather as palpable proof that modernity was an intrinsically colonialist and genocidal project. Enrique Dussel. with its long tradition of failed modernizing projects." "Latin America. how it manifests itself in the scientific practices of imperialist countries. Basing his assertions on the theory developed by Carl Pletsch concerning the geopolitical division within intellectual projects." Some members of the Latin American Group of Subaltern Studies adopt the Indian model of theorization and use it to assess Latin American colonial situations. a critique of the epistemological legacies of colonialism. like India (Guha. The struggle signals another type of extra-academic. Fernando Ortiz.EBSCOhost 06/24/2007 12:53 AM social formation through its presence within the educational apparatus. and geographical knowledge was directly linked to the beginning of European expansion. Edmundo O'Gormann. the university.ezproxy. the slavery of blacks from Africa.edu. calls the "three big genocides of modernity:" the destruction of Amerindian cultures.lib." or "the Third World. What these three theoretical constructions have in common is their dissatisfaction with the globalization of new technological developments after 1945 and their profound skepticism about what Habermas calls "the unfinished project of modernity. modern science has been accomplice to what Mignolo.com. Mignolo advances that between 1950 and 1975 (the "third phase of capitalism's global expansion") the enunciation and production of theoretical discourses were localized within the "First World. Spivak) and the Middle East (Said)." in technologically and economically developed countries. the time when Europe began to lose hegemony over global power. however.unimelb. Mignolo wishes to investigate fully the relationship between imperialism and knowledge. http://web.

1996. W. In contrast to events in Europe and the U. modernity. Spivak (ed.ebscohost. Mignolo. "Posoccidentalismo: las epistemologies fronterizas y el dilema de los estudios (latinoamericanos) de area. 1996. http://web. rather he/she brings along all the prejudices (ethical. Subaltern studies treat these processes as if they were agents invested in an omnipresent "imperial reason. is possible. involved in colonialist relations of power. as well as for the texts that are interpreted. which in turn motivated Latin America to move toward a technologically modernized society. However. and the development of expertise systems in a mystifying form. Colonialism functions as a globally identified pre-philosophical space. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. much to its chagrin." in B. Caracas: Editorial Nueva Sociedad. if this were so. When the social scientist (or philosopher) biographically or ethnically identifies himself/herself with a determinate excluded community. Bhabha. London: Routledge. Beverley.). in this case.EBSCOhost 06/24/2007 12:53 AM Raul Prebisch. 1993. theoretical. H. to a lifestyle underpinned by the experience of colonial marginalization. the following question may be posed: What guarantees that the epistemologies of Latin American social science and philosophy (treated by the aforementioned authors) did not also play a subversive/subalternizing role.com. Critica Cultural y Teoria Literaria Latinoamericana. "(* This character cannot be converted in ASCII text) Posliteratura? Sujeto subalterno e impasse de las humanidades. and Roberto Fernandez Retamar succeeded in epistemologically dismantling the colonialist and hegemonic discourse of modernity. Against Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press. It appears that knowledge has a purely instrumental function.au/ehost/detai…76b9c-320a-49e1-8e44-bd1079f8a571%40sessionmgr9#AN0000459827-2 Page 5 of 6 . it remains unclear how Mignolo's hermeneutics escapes the straitjacket imposed by colonial epistemologies to mysteriously become reflexive knowledges. Morana (ed. New York: Oxford University Press. It is for this reason that the weakest point of subaltern studies. like those from the United States and Europe? Mignolo wonders if an interpretation of texts produced in pluricultural spaces. "On Some Aspects of the Historiography of Colonial India." in R.edu. I think it is unquestionable that subaltern studies have discovered important aspects of the ways in which colonial legacies of modernity continue to be reproduced in First World academic settings. 1994. and their institutional role is reduced to the subalternization of the "other. The Location of Culture. The Darker Side of the Renaissance. Territoriality and Colonization. Selected Subaltern Studies. ipso facto. is its incapacity to represent its own locus enuntiationis. 1995. Guha.S.." This amounts to removing the social foundation upon which the critique of the system is based. a "cultural tradition" from which an interpretation of Latin American perspectives is possible. Literacy." Yet. Naturally. for the subject who interprets. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. RECOMMENDED READINGS Beverley. Gonzalez Stephan (ed. Darcy Ribeiro. R. [ am not very convinced by the way in which postcolonial theorists relate the sociological knowledge of experts (in the human and social sciences) with the rationality of abstract systems (capitalist economy and the bureaucratic-administrative apparatus). J.). being directly tied to the homogenizing imperatives of the technical. Subaltern studies appear to read globalization. Hermeneutics is an exercise that facilitates the comprehension of colonial situations or legacies.unimelb. Mignolo. then what Gadamer called a "fusion of horizons" is produced: the interpreter does not approach his/her object as a disinterested observer.lib. Cultural y Tercer Mundo. Mignolo posits that a major part of social science and philosophy in Latin America has manifested itself as a "pluritopic hermeneutics" which breaks away from the objectifying epistemologies of colonial science. 1988. Latin America had already produced theories that. W. broke with the privileges of colonial discourse long before Guha established his Indian Group of subaltern studies and before Europe and United States began to discuss postmodernism. Guhan and G." in M.).ezproxy. 3. as Max Weber demonstrates. The theoretical knowledge of these authors is "postoccidental" because they expressed a critical response to whet Jameson refers to as the social and scientific project of modernity in its new stage of imperialist globalization. political) that bind him/her to his/her own lifestyle. Imperialism's politico-economic interests permeate the social sciences.

New York: Columbia University Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. E. Western Conceptions of the Orient. or email articles for individual use. Copyright of Peace Review is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. 1978. "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in P. 72070 Tuebingen. Chrisman (eds.EBSCOhost 06/24/2007 12:53 AM Said.ebscohost.ezproxy.unimelb. ~~~~~~~~ By Santiago Castro-Gomez Translated by Christina Lloyd Santiago Castro-Gomez teaches at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogota. Ch. View: 9 of 9 Top of Page EBSCO Support Site Privacy Policy Terms of Use Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Industries.edu. Correspondence: Stoecklestrasse 22A. download. Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory. He recently published a book entitled Critica de la Razon Latinoamericana. 1994. Inc.au/ehost/detai…76b9c-320a-49e1-8e44-bd1079f8a571%40sessionmgr9#AN0000459827-2 Page 6 of 6 . G. Colombia. Citation HTML Full Text Result List | Refine Search Print E-mail Save Export Add to folder http://web. Williams and L. users may print.com.lib.). However. Spivak. Orientalism. Germany. All rights reserved.

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