Conditions of Latin Americanist Critique
Latin Americanist reflection today, understood as the sum total of
academic discourse on Latin America, whether carried out in Latin
America, in the United States, in Europe, or elsewhere, is one of the
sites where the separation of intellectual labor from its very means
of production is forcefully revealed. This separation shows up as a
kind of expropriation—as an expropriating symptom—in the con-
stitutive gap between theoretical discourse and the field of reflec-
tion. Granted that Latin Americanism seeks, in every case, some-
thing like an appropriation of a Latin American found object, the
distance between the object and the appropriative intention remains
irreducible. This irreducibility has become thematized as the very
name of the Latin Americanist game in an ongoing debate or series
of debates involving the relative replacement of the traditional appa-
ratus of literary studies by cultural studies in transnational reflec-
tion on Latin American culture.These debates are also influenced by
the weight given by Latin Americanists to the intellectual currents
that seem to flow all too unilaterally from U.S. university discourse
toward the different Latin American
The conditions of possibility for Latin Americanist discourse
have shifted over the last decade. What could still be understood in,
say, 1985 as a crossing between our-Americanist drives and the cen-
tripetal forces of scientific universalism—in other words, the whole
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