Introduction: Conditions of Latin Americanist Critique
1 It would be difficult to mention all the participants in these debates, many
of whom have not yet published their work. But see recent issues of Re-
vista de crítica cultural, Revista iberoamericana, Journal of Latin Ameri-
can Cultural Studies, and Cuadernos americanos. See also chapter 8 of
this book. The debates, in plural, may however be one and the same de-
bate, since they share so many intersecting characteristics. The most re-
cent contribution at the time of this writing is Abril Trigo’s ‘‘Why Do I Do
Cultural Studies?,’’ a level-headed and useful attempt to navigate conflic-
tive options that will nevertheless not go beyond staking out one possible
position among others. Latin Americanists know that the discussions I
refer to go well beyond published work and manifest themselves almost
obsessively at professional conferences and in e-mail discussions. Four
books that were published after I finished writing this book will have in-
fluence in fueling the debate, although I myself have not been able to in-
clude them in my musings here: Román de la Campa, Latin Americanism,
Doris Sommer, Proceed with Caution When Engaged with Minority Writ-
ing in the Americas, John Beverley, Subalternity and Representation, and
Walter Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs.
2 Our-Americanist refers to the well-known essay, written in 1891, by José
Martí, ‘‘Nuestra América’’ (‘‘Our America’’).
3 Of course cultural studies developed in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s
and was reinstitutionalized in the United States in the late 1980s. See
Dennis Dworkin, Cultural Marxism in Post-War Britain, for a history of
its early development. See Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula
Treichler, Cultural Studies, for its first major manifestation in the United
States.The history of Latin American cultural studies is yet unwritten. My
point is that what is now emerging as a full-blown field of inquiry in Latin
American studies has its own regional history, which is only partially in-
debted to the British and North American and Australian precursors. That
history also has a totally different genealogy as well as different conditions
of social and intellectual inscription.
4 We should credit Immanuel Wallerstein with the development of these
concepts. See in particular The Modern World System 1.
5 I am bracketing the otherwise obvious fact that cultural studies not only
interacts with and develops from the literary field but also from history,
sociology, anthropology, and communication studies in particular. But I
must leave it to scholars from those disciplines to elucidate the influence
cultural studies has on them (and vice versa).
6 See, however, Wander Melo Miranda, ‘‘Projeçoes de um debate,’’ and
Eneida Maria de Souza, ‘‘A teoria em crise.’’
7 This is not to say that some Spanish-language literary Latin American-
ists, whether U.S.-based or not, are not putting up a fierce opposition.
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