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Cannibal Democracy

Cannibal Democracy: Race and Representation in the Literature of the Americas

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Cannibal Democracy
    Book Description:

    Zita Nunes argues that the prevailing narratives of identity formation throughout the Americas share a dependence on metaphors of incorporation and, often, of cannibalism. The construction of a national and racial identity through a process of assimilation, Nunes asserts, presupposes a remainder, a residue. Cannibal Democracy explores what is left behind in the formation of identities and addresses the limits of the contemporary discourse of democracy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5652-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xx)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    In 1989, the attention of a passerby in Rio de Janeiro would have been drawn to a striking poster affixed to a wall. This poster, one of many plastered throughout the city’s poorer neighborhoods, showed three nude, brown-skinned torsos — one, the lightest in color, apparently a woman as indicated by the salience of the breast; the other two were less easily categorized. The three bodies were layered from the left to right with themulataclosest in terms of perspective to the surface plane and, therefore, to the viewer of the photograph. In the center of the photograph, superimposed...

  6. ONE United by Anthropophagism
    (pp. 25-58)

    According to conventional readings, the Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Art) inaugurated Brazil’s modernist movement. It was an event that one of the organizers called “o primeiro sintoma espiritual da transmutação de nossa consciência” (the first intellectual symptom of the transformation of our consciousness).¹ From 11 to the 18 February 1922, the Municipal Theatre in São Paulo was the site of art exhibitions, dance and music performances, lectures and readings that were met with more derision than applause. Mário de Andrade’s older brother recalls being taken aback at the reception to his brother’s speech at the theater. The...

  7. TWO Bringing in the Dead: Nostalgia and the Refusal of Loss in Gilberto Freyre’s Casa Grande e Senzala
    (pp. 59-86)

    In the early 1940s, Carleton Sprague Smith, the archivist for the music section of New York Public Library, visited Brazil. His stay coincided with a public-relations initiative on the part of a group of Brazilian intellectuals and business leaders and the U.S. government — represented by Nelson Rockefeller, then coordinator of Interamerican Affairs — to counter Nazi Germany’s influence on Brazil’sEstado Novogovernment during the Second World War. The group promoted its goals through a series of lectures, titled, “Lessons from an American Way of Life,” on literature, film, education, agriculture, medicine, and business delivered by well-known Brazilian public...

  8. THREE The Foreigner and the Remainder
    (pp. 87-114)

    In the preceding two chapters, I developed a theoretical framework based on a model of cannibalism and explored the significance of the metaphor of cannibalism to the concept of racial democracy in relation to the Brazilian context most immediately associated with these ideas. In the next two chapters, I will shift my focus from Brazilian writers I have discussed to the real and imagined exchanges between writers in the United States and Brazil. I will demonstrate how the metaphor of cannibalism circulated between Brazil and the United States. The ubiquity of the metaphor of cannibalism in the discussions about race...

  9. FOUR The New Negro and the Turn to South America
    (pp. 115-144)

    “It was with secret thrills of a peculiar and inexpressible joy that I, at last, on the third day of last February, accompanied by my wife, sailed from the port of New York for a visit to the South American republics. It was the opening chapter in the realization of a golden dream long cherished.”¹ So began the first in a series of articles that appeared in theChicago Defender, in which Robert Abbott, the newspaper’s founder and publisher, chronicled his 1923 tour. Abbott’s stated goals in undertaking this trip were many: to see the Negro in a “modern society”...

  10. FIVE The Remainder Is a Reminder: Cannibalizing the Remains of the Past
    (pp. 145-172)

    My study has explored the tangled network of allusions to the figure of the remainder in the United States and Brazil. As I have demonstrated, the remainder is signaled in African American writing with surprising frequency through references to Brazil (or a generalized South America) and to the metaphor of cannibalism. In what follows, I will show that issues related to race and the remainder are not localized in a single historical moment nor limited to the contexts of the United States and Brazil. These issues, furthermore, have implications for the constitution of an African Diaspora. Although the late twentieth-century...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 173-176)

    Toni Morrison’sParadisecloses with an appeal to those created through slavery to shoulder the work of reparation “down here in paradise.” These words recall the closing of Alejo Carpentier’sThe Kingdom of This World. This 1949 novel by the Cuban author recounts the Haitian Revolution according to the literary practice oflo real maravilloso(the marvelous real) that he had defined in the preface to the Spanish edition to that work:¹

    In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no grandeur to be won, inasmuch as there all is an established hierarchy, the unknown is revealed, existence is infinite, there...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 177-200)
  13. Index
    (pp. 201-219)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 220-220)