Metropolitan Debts,
Imperial Modernity, and
Latino Modernism
It gives us pleasure that with our Latino spirit [espíritu
latino] we foresee and recommend months in advance
what later appears very good to the cerebral and labori-
ous neo-Saxons.—José Martí, ‘‘Exposición de productos
americanos,’’ La América, 1884
Small as they are, their historical origin and development
have been such that these Caribbean islands can make
highly significant contributions to the economics and
politics of a world in torment.—C. L. R. James, The Black
Jacobins, 1963
this book
is about the translations—in
the literal and figurative sense—through which José Martí and
other Latin American writers resident in the United States conveyed
to readers of Spanish inside and outside Latin America the Anglo-
American empire’s new phase of expansion in the late nineteenth
century. More free than faithful, these translations of Anglo-
American culture into a Latino idiom bring into focus aspects of
nineteenth-century history that U.S. scholarship is only today be-
ginning to acknowledge.∞
In the midst of truncated wars of inde-
pendence and after the gradual abolition of slavery began in Puerto
Rico in 1873 and in Cuba in 1880, the numbers of islanders and
other Latino Americans in multiracial barrios in the eastern United
States, especially Florida, swelled to the thousands.≤
Composed in
another language (Spanish), but also in a distinct rhythm, style,
and form, such texts parody Anglo conceptions of Latinness that
were circulating in the North. However, under the sway of English-
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