Writing National Imaginaries and Indigeneity: Race, Nation, and Politics of Inclusion

Thursday, February 5, 2015
12:30pm – 1:45pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Judith Maxwell, Department of Anthropology, Tulane University

Voces Silenciadas: Una examinación de la erradicación de los pueblos originarios de argentina para establecer una idea de identidad nacional
Written by Andrea Arce-Trigatti & Florencia Beatriz Santucho
Andrea Arce-Trigatti, University of Tennessee

En la identidad nacional que perpetúa Argentina, es casi imposible identificar un pasado ligado a las comunidades originarias en el imaginario colectivo. Insistiendo en que una identidad nacional influenciada por tradiciones Europeas era el camino hacia el progreso, la generación intelectual del siglo XIX impuso una idea de civilización que se basa en suprimir toda identidad no occidental/europea. Esta idea está tan arraigada en la formación de la identidad argentina que incluso ha sido consolidada en la Constitución. En un esfuerzo para reivindicar las voces silenciadas de éstas comunidades en la construcción de la identidad nacional, nosotros examinamos los incentivos que justificaron su exclusión y de qué manera permanecen actualmente en el imaginario social: principalmente, la dicotomía civilización/barbarie y lo que ésta implica en las lógicas fundantes de las naciones en formación durante el siglo XIX. Focalizando en el papel que la campaña del desierto (1870-1884) -el genocidio más grande de los pueblos originarios de Argentina- desempeñó en el establecimiento de la identidad nacional, éste trabajo combina una investigación histórica y política con un análisis literario de dos textos formativos en la generación del ideal argentino: Facundo de Domingo F. Sarmiento y Una excursión a los indios ranqueles de Lucio V. Mansilla. Perpetuando las motivaciones políticas y sociales de la campaña contra los pueblos originarios, las obras de estos hombres “determinaron” la identidad étnica y cultural específica de quienes permanecerían como los “legítimos” representantes de la sociedad argentina. Finalmente, con este trabajo esperamos recalcar las raíces aborígenes argentinas y hacer tomar conciencia de la injusticia de que fueron víctimas, habiendo sido por completo desplazadas en la búsqueda de una identidad nacional. Hasta que aquellos que fueron excluidos sean respetuosamente reconocidos como orgullosos contribuyentes de la identidad nacional, Argentina no puede proclamarse como un país democrático y representativo de sus habitantes.

“Yawar mayu, río de sangre:” Translation and the Construction of a More Inclusive National Identity in Los ríos profundos by José María Arguedas 

Sarah Booker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Translation plays a significant role in the incorporation and representation of the multiplicity of voices that exist across the globe and is integral to the creation of a national identity. Translation is fundamental to the creative process of José María Arguedas, who uses it to construct a multilingual narrative that reflects the criollo reality of his native Perú as well as his own experience growing up in such a society. This paper examines the use of translation within the Peruvian writer’s most often canonized and semi-autobiographical novel, “Los ríos profundos.” Translation appears on various levels: in the incorporation and explication of Quechua terms and phrases, in the bilingual transcriptions and translations of huaynos and in the overall syntactical structure of the language, which takes advantage of the metaphorical possibilities of the Quechua language while being accessible to the Spanish-speaking reader. Upon an exploration of the various elements of translation in the novel, it becomes clear that moments of translation appear in a variety of ways in the novel, but all connect the narrative to a personal, cultural and national identity and, in particular, to a past that contributes to the formation of that identity. Translation moves the narrative to the moment of creation or expression of identity, which, for the protagonist, is located at the confluence of the linguistically hegemonic, Spanish-speaking realm and the marginalized Quechua one. I argue that Arguedas’ use of translation in a way that integrates both Spanish and Quechua into his novel is pivotal to the construction of a more inclusive Peruvian national identity. The acceptance into the literary canon of “Los ríos profundos” along with other translations of indigenous texts, such as the “Popul vuh” or “Ritos y tradiciones de los Huarochiri,” puts tension on preconceived understandings of identity and opens the canon up to begin to include a multiplicity of voices.

Todos somos mexicanos: Hecho en México y la representación de los pueblos indígenas

Alejandra Marquez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

El documental Hecho en México (2012), del director británico Duncan Bridgeman, intenta servir como una amalgama de la diversidad cultural mexicana por medio de entrevistas y música de diversos personajes. Si bien esta cinta podría parecer bien intencionada, no está de más considerar su agenda política, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que ésta se estrenó en México unos meses después de las últimas elecciones presidenciales y que uno de sus productores es Emilio Azcárraga Jean (socio mayoritario de Televisa que fue acusado de apoyar la campaña del actual presidente, Peña Nieto). Debido a diversas implicaciones, el documental contiene un mensaje unificador, mostrando a diversas celebridades, intelectuales y pueblos indígenas, y buscando convencer a su público de que existe una mexicanidad que les une. Es por ello que este estudio analiza el proyecto de homogeneización del filme y la manera en la cual los pueblos indígenas son vistos como parte de una colectividad mexicana, restándoles individualidad y minimizando la discriminación y los problemas que éstos han sufrido desde la época colonial. Para este fin, mi marco teórico yace en textos tanto de Fausto Reinaga como de Alberto Muyolema para problematizar los conceptos de mestizaje y nacionalismo. Asimismo, para contextualizar el análisis se utiliza el discurso de Guillermo Bonfil Batalla sobre la existencia de distintos Méxicos y la jerarquía colonial que los une.

 Enlightenment Implications, Bourbon Influence and Character Construction in Comedia nueva del apostolado en las Indias martirio de un cacique: An Alternative Approach to the Life, Works and Ideology of Eusebio Vela

Megan Oleson, Vanderbilt University

A general disregard for literary works of eighteenth-century Latin America continues to characterize scholars’ attitudes towards the era. The prevailing past and current scholarly approaches to these works have portrayed them as second-rate, overly Baroque and valueless. I argue that these negative perceptions have remained stagnant not because of their innate inferiority, but rather because of many scholars’ inadequacies in correctly interpreting their intentionality. To further this assertion, I focus on the analysis of the famed eighteenth-century playwright Eusebio Vela and his play Comedia nueva del apostolado en las Indias martirio de un cacique (Comedia nueva del apostolado). I analyze the ways in which the intentionality within Comedia nueva del apostolado becomes more apparent when it is understood as a participant in the large-scale cultural indoctrination campaign promoted by the Bourbon monarchy and influenced by the Enlightenment. The primary sources I reference that allow for enlightenment-influenced elements to surface within the play include José Antonio Maravall’s Politica directiva en el teatro ilustrado and Ignacio de Luzán’s La Poética o reglas de la poesía en general y de sus principales especies. My textual analysis covers the ways in which Comedia nueva del apostolado indoctrinates Bourbon values through historical revisionism and character construction. By appropriating a foundational story and manipulating characters to reflect model subjects, Vela was able to promote an ideal Bourbon society where monarch-vassal relations were redefined, natives were given a societal role and traditionally powerful sectors of society were limited in their authoritative scope.

Interrogating Gender: Traditions and Opportunities in the Framing of Women’s Identities

Saturday, February 7, 2015
11:30am – 12:45pm
Greenleaf Conference Room, Jones Hall 100A
Moderated by: Dr. Supriya Nair, Department of English, Tulane University

Poto Mitan or Helpless Victim: An Analysis of Women’s Representation in Haitian Proverbs
Rachel Denney, University of Kansas

This work examines competing notions of Haitian female identity as reflected through Haitian proverbs. Using a postcolonial feminist framework, this research analyzes entries from one of the world’s largest collection of Creole proverbs to understand how gender norms are both constructed and reinforced. These proverbs present a complex picture of female identities and gender relations in Haiti, in which women appear as entrepreneurs, partners, and caregivers, experiencing and eliciting the full range of human emotion. In doing so, they contradict the stereotypical “victim narrative” of Haitian women that permeates the underlying ideology of much humanitarian assistance, as well as undermine simplistic notions about women’s strength and resiliency. This project builds on literature that examines the social construction of identity through content and rhetorical analysis.

Ancient Maya Women’s Identity: An Analysis of Costume in Pre-Columbian Maya Art
Elizabeth Haughey, Tulane University

Ancient Maya textiles were made of natural wool or cotton that was dyed with natural vegetal dyes and woven by women on a backstrap loom. Evidence for these practices can be found in ancient Maya depictions of the act of weaving (often performed by the goddess Ixchel, or Goddesses O and I), as well as Jaina Island figurines and more. While some of the methods of textile production have changed throughout time, others have largely remained the same. Evidence from the Conquest period suggests that some Pre-conquest elements in Maya costume were also retained in 19th century women’s garments and beyond. Specific designs and colors in Guatemalan textiles today can often be linked to certain towns or regions of the country, especially the woman’s huipil (blouse) and corte (skirt) (both elements that originated in ancient times), and serve to provide the wearer with a sense of identity; not only Maya identity, but a specific identity tied to birth town or town of residence. Though little evidence exists that specifically links the Post-Classic Maya period to the period of the Spanish conquest, it may be true that the element of regional identifiability in textiles has persisted since ancient times. Ancient Maya women’s costumes may be seen worn on prominent Maya women, such as Lady Xok of Yaxchilan, Lady Rabbit of Bonampak, Lady Night of Piedras Negras, and others. These ladies can be found on a variety of ancient Maya art, including painted pottery, carved stone lintels and stelae, three-dimensional figurines, and the Maya codices, from sites such as Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Motul de San José. Analysis of such depictions of women’s costume in Pre-Columbian Maya art can be employed to discover the ways in which the Pre-Columbian Maya may have distinguished regional identity.

(Sup)Plantation Narratives: Reading Andrea Levy’s The Long Song as a Textual and Sexual Revision of The History of Mary Prince

Laura Mellem, Tulane University

This paper examines a contemporary novel, Andrea Levy’s The Long Song (2010), alongside a prominent historical text describing the experiences of an enslaved woman in the West Indies, The History of Mary Prince, originally published in 1831. In depicting the sexual encounters of enslaved women–coerced, for pleasure, and for economic or legal gain–in Jamaica in the period between the abolition of the slave trade and full emancipation (1807-1838), I argue that Levy’s novel especially responds to the deliberate silencing of aspects of Mary Prince’s sexual experiences as an enslaved woman in the original slave narrative. Ultimately, Levy’s novel reveals what Prince’s testimony does not say, that sexuality was a central tenet of enslaved women’s lives and that they did with it what they could. Writing back to the public furor that erupted over Prince’s sexual omissions, moreover, Levy pieces together the claims made about Prince and reinvents a full story of her life, and other enslaved women’s lives. In doing so, she makes clear the contradictions inherent in the unrealistic Victorian demands being made of enslaved women, including the idealization of motherhood and the insistence on women’s chastity. Unapologetically portraying an enslaved woman’s rejection of her dark-skinned child and highlighting her relationships with men, both black and white, for economic gain, Levy disrupts the binary logic of “the woman card” in the debates between abolitionists and pro-slavery supporters. Instead, she portrays a complex female character who is neither simply victim nor concubine. Reading Levy’s The Long Song alongside The History of Mary Prince allows us to fill in the blanks deliberately left in Prince’s testimony, while also appreciating, perhaps even more, the boldness of Prince’s original work.