Re Fernando Ortiz

Journal article by Marylin Grace Miller; Chasqui, Vol. 32, 2003

Transculture, Terror, and the Language of “Love” in Nancy Morejón’s “Amo a Mi Amo”

“yo te diría que la noche tiene un encanto medieval” (Nancy Morejón)

What does transculturation (still) mean, nearly three-quarters of a century after Fernando Ortiz offered his powerful interpretation of the term and its relevance to Cuba and Latin America in his volume Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y azúcar (1940)? Román de la Campa argues that the traditional reading of transculturation as developed by both Ortiz and his successors, including Angel Rama, has been one of positive synthesis, which provides for a kind of cultural cohesion in the face of postmodern dispersion. He suggests further that subsequent “deconstructive” readings of transculturation (Benítez Rojo, Pérez Firmat, Moreiras) have come from the context of an entrenched academicism distant from everyday experience in Latin America (7). Certainly, there is much truth in his assertion that as has been the case with other terms such as “magic realism,” and “lo real maravilloso,” transculturation has disintegrated into an imprecise, generalized term used to refer to the autonomous and authentic nature of Latin American cultural expression (13-14). I would suggest, however, that the problem is less with Ortiz’s search for synthesis, than with the shrink-fitting of Ortiz’s multidisciplinary observations into a frame t…


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