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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Beware of Discovering the Truth 

Gosh, Latin American studies are so dead. I read stuff published within the last 3 years, and there’s nothing but the same tired old ideas I was taught 20 years ago as an undergrad based on the sources from the 1970s.

Nothing is sadder than a field of knowledge that has discovered THE TRUTH and has nothing else to do but endlessly repeat it. 

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15 thoughts on “Beware of Discovering the Truth 

  1. “Nothing is sadder than a field of knowledge that has discovered THE TRUTH and has nothing else to do but endlessly repeat it”

    This is one of the reasons for (or consequences of) my being incapable of religious belief. All religions are boring to me (the mechanism of belief itself it endlessly fascinating but the actual contents of religions are either boring or downright repulsive.

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  2. “Latin American studies are so dead”

    Do you mean Latin American literature studies or Latin AMiercan studies in general (including socio-political, economic, historical etc)?

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    • It’s all the same and all done in the language and the sensibilities of Melissa McEwan.

      One example. The field is obsessed with denouncing a fellow who said something vaguely racist in 1843. These scholars can’t string 2 sentences together without condemning this guy. 1843! In my field, there’s plenty of folks who said something that goes against modern sensibilities in 1843. But we’ve managed to get past it. We don’t need to constantly virtue signal how different we are from this backwards fellow from 1843.

      And it’s all like that. Any discussion of any problems in Latin America has to contain the obsessive refrain of how these problems were caused by the US. Eventually, you start to wonder if these scholars are even interested in Latin America or if it’s just an excuse to condemn the evilness of the US.

      Right now I’m reading a book that talks about the mass rapes in Guatemala during the civil war. There’s not a mention of the Guatemalan culture of machismo but there is a whole discussion of Americans in Vietnam. And it’s all like that.

      Sorry for the rant but this bugs me.

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      • JProf on said:

        I wonder if this is where intersectionality and the desire to show that you’re not racist cause problems: you can’t criticize Guatemalan machismo because then you’re criticizing people of color.

        Also, the Melissa McEwan types would probably say that if you talk about Guatemalan machismo you’re promoting stereotypes about men of color, or they might say that you have to remember that machismo and rape are a big problem in the US, too (bringing the conversation back to the U.S. again), so you shouldn’t single out Guatemala.

        Regardless of what you might think of controversial feminist Catharine MacKinnon, she made a provocative but interesting comment at a lecture she gave at U of Chicago a couple of years ago. She stated that in her work against sex trafficking, the situation of women internationally made her less sympathetic to cultural differences around the globe.

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        • Yes, that’s absolutely the problem. And the result is that people are so uncomfortable with talking about Latin America that they end up talking only about the US instead.

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      • Who in 1843?

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        • Sorry, 1845, isn’t it? 🙂

          The first time one hears a discussion of Sarmiento, it sounds cute. But when it becomes so central to a field, that’s scary.

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          • Oh, you mean civilization and barbarism? The thing is that that really caught on in 19C in terms of policy and thinking about policy, and construction of subjectivity, etc. It’s an issue. I’m fascinated with its implications (and with the book, I love the prose in S’ book). But there is all kinds of work on Lat Am lit and in LAS that doesn’t deal with that even remotely.

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            • I’ll be grateful for any recommendations. Because Franco left a bad aftertaste.

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              • Well, I need to get control of all bibliography on C. Moro & C. Vallejo, and a lot of stuff on film. I am doing civ/barb in the fall, in a course on ethnicity & modernity. And I am doing some stuff on race. And there’s a bunch of 20th and 21st century Mexican stuff I am dying to read … and some work on neoliberalism in Mexican literature & cinema that might be up your alley. This is to start

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              • I’m reading tons on neoliberalism right now. All very good stuff. Will post some reviews soon.

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              • You’ll hate this perhaps, but it appears Eltit critiques Luz Arce’s narrative as a neoliberal product.

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              • As I said, I have no beef with Eltit because it’s her cultural trauma and she can process it any way she wants. But there’s a difference between looking for closure and looking for a payout.

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  3. Ah yes: Eguren and Alfonso Reyes, there are all sorts of authors I want to get a grasp on their work & the secondary literature. I’ve got gaps, gaps…

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