On Hispanism, periodization, ethnic archives, and more.

Another journal issue I am going to weed out is the March 2012 PMLA (127:2). Interesting things in it include (but are of course not limited to) discussions of periodization — it seems it is going out more than I realize, and that many FL programs are plagued with “presentism.” This is interesting. There are also several discussions of the “ethnic archive,” including indigenous archives and the “New Indian.”

There is an article by Kirsten Silva Gruesz, “What was Latino literature?”, about the Norton anthology, its discontents and its implications. Greuz published a book on the trans-American origins of Latino writing (Princeton 2002) and is working on another, on the cultural history of Spanish in the US. Other work of hers is on Spanish language print culture in the US and the transnational Gulf of Mexico, so she is very interesting.

Nick Kanellos has an article in here, too, called “Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage” (371-374). The article title is the name of an actual program, founded in 1992. It does not envision “Latino” as a subculture but as a transnational identity … for Latinos in the US and probably, for the US as a whole, he says.  He points out (371) that Spanish is the majority language in the hemisphere, and that Hispanics will soon make up more than a third of the US population.

His article is very interesting and makes several key points. For instance: “…Hispanics became a colonized society under American expansionist and racial ideologies that were used to justify the domination and suppression of the native populations as well as the large-scale importation of cheap labor from the Caribbean and south of the border, once slavery was abolished in the United States.” (372)

Continuing: studying ideologies of racial and cultural superiority like manifest destiny also helps us to understand why little care was taken to recognize and preserve Hispanic texts. Even recently, the NEH has perpetuated the exclusion of Hispanic writings from US cultural history; its US Newspaper Program made little effort to preserve Spanish-language periodicals in the United States.

Looking at the archive it is clear how central Latinos are in US history, yet funding is typically denied for projects having to do with this history since it is considered “foreign” or “minority.” Since so little preservation is funded, the history gets effectively erased.

Here is the website of Kanellos’ recovery project. They are having a conference in Houston on a Friday and Saturday in October, and I am tempted to go.

This entry was posted in Colonialisms, Créolité, Identity, Race, What Is A Scholar?, Working. Bookmark the permalink.

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