The Avant-Garde and Geopolitics in Latin America

The Avant-Garde and Geopolitics in Latin America

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 224
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    The Avant-Garde and Geopolitics in Latin America
    Book Description:

    The Avant-Garde and Geopolitics in Latin Americaexamines the canonical Latin American avant-garde texts of the 1920s and 1930s in novels, travel writing, journalism, and poetry, and presents them in a new light as formulators of modern Western culture and precursors of global culture. Particular focus is placed on the work of Roberto Arlt and Mário de Andrade as exemplars of the movement.

    Fernando J. Rosenberg provides a theoretical historiography of Latin American literature and the role that modernity and avant-gardism played in it. He finds significant parallels between the cultural battles of the interwar years in Latin America and current debates over the role of the peripheral nation-state within the culture of globalization. Rosenberg establishes that the Latin American avant-garde evolved on its own terms, in polemic dialogue with the European movements, critiquing modernity itself and developing a global geopolitical awareness. In the process these writers created a bridge between postcolonial and postmodern culture, forming a distinct movement that continues its influence today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7297-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Chapter 1 Locating the Avant-Garde
    (pp. 1-11)

    This book is about the avant-gardes of Latin America and their critique of modernity.¹ Rather than engaging in the construction of an alternative modernity or attempting to renegotiate the modern in relation to the traditional, these vanguardists, I contend, sought to produce a critique of the modern as a global project.

    From the perspective of a narrative of progress, Latin America seems to be cast either as a relic from the primitive past or as an unrealized but promising future. The linear temporality of the Judeo-Christian tradition—“ascending, descending, progressive or regressive,” as Gianni Vattimo (1992, 87) characterizes it—and...

  5. Chapter 2 A Case for Geopolitics
    (pp. 12-48)

    In his influential and widely reprinted 1927 article “Contra el secreto profesional” (Against the professional secret), Peruvian poet César Vallejo dismissed Latin American vanguard trends as so much “aping” of foreign aesthetics (Schwartz 1991, 513–16). The ensuing decades of cultural analysis have either echoed this accusatory stance or reversed Vallejo’s argument and taken up a defense of the vanguard by highlighting the movement’s originality. In sketching the major trends of this debate, I aim not to conduct an exhaustive historical survey but rather to foreground different agendas for Latin American modernity as they are set in critical readings of...

  6. Chapter 3 Locating the Future in Los siete locos
    (pp. 49-76)

    Roberto arltʹs position in the Argentinean avant-garde is always a contested topic. The way he fashioned his literary persona does not fit easily with an ostensibly avant-garde group or with a clear-cut declaration of an historical or literary break with the past. He was anomalous in the main avant-garde circles: too much of a plebeian for the aristocratic and worldly intellectuals of the magazineMartín Fierro, who dismissed his unpolished prose, and too disconcertingly metaphysical and morally ambiguous for the politically engaged intelligentsia of the Boedo group, cultivators of hard-core social realism.¹ If avant-garde narrative is reduced to a list...

  7. Chapter 4 Macunaíma in the Mouth of the Cannibal
    (pp. 77-105)

    Since its publication in 1928,Macunaíma, The Hero with No Characterhas played a fundamental role in discussions of Brazilian literary modernity. Despite the author’s wishes, the novel was considered an exemplary incarnation of themodernistaaesthetic program, that is, an embodiment of its ideas concerningantropofagia, which persisted as a fundamental topic throughout the century in the Brazilian cultural debate.¹ In examining the novel I will turn toantropofagianot in order to conflate it with the novel (as has often been often done), but to highlight different discursive strategies that the avant-garde made available in Latin America and...

  8. Chapter 5 Leaving Home: Cosmopolitanism and Travel
    (pp. 106-135)

    From the period of nation building on, Latin American traveling artists and intellectuals performed the roles of cultural mediator (between tradition and modernity, country and city, native and foreign, etc.) and agents of cultural development, complicated in the late nineteenth century by the ethos of individual artistic freedom. The division between explorers (of the interiors) and cultural travelers (abroad), between ethnology and cosmopolitanism, between local particularities and spatial universalities, presupposes a set of hierarchies and a sense of historical direction that was losing ground at the time of the avant-gardes. The strategies deployed by travelers linked to the avant-gardes went...

  9. Chapter 6 Cosmopolitanism and Repentance: The Homecoming of the Avant-Garde Poet
    (pp. 136-160)

    Avant-gardes in Latin America purposely and sometimes defiantly eschewed nativist narratives and every construction of inexpugnable cultural origins, favoring instead a sensitivity toward the global dynamic of cultural production that informed their sense of place. In the 1940s, however, many of the avant-gardists who are more easily identified as cosmopolitan, who formerly resented or simply avoided any narrow sense of local attachment, found themselves longing for places of identification to call home. Moreover, this reaction against their own former cosmopolitan, ironic regard toward native values was typically charged with a remorseful affect, as if a manic sense of free access...

  10. Chapter 7 Epilogue
    (pp. 161-168)

    In this book, the assignation of “avant-garde” was not predicated on matters of style, on the understanding that “avant-garde” is tantamount to “artistic experimentation”—whatever that may stand for—or on declared affiliations. Even when the Latin American avant-garde artists did renew the formal aspects of their craft, opening the door to all sorts of innovations, the most relevant aspect of this change was the interrogation of the conditions of possibility for and consequences of declaring something to be innovative and modern. The embrace of novelty fueled the most interesting production of this particular historical time, causing the avant-gardists to...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 169-192)
    (pp. 193-204)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 205-211)