Utopias of Otherness: Nationhood and Subjectivity in Portugal and Brazil

Utopias of Otherness: Nationhood and Subjectivity in Portugal and Brazil

Utopias of Otherness: Nationhood and Subjectivity in Portugal and Brazil

Utopias of Otherness: Nationhood and Subjectivity in Portugal and Brazil

Synopsis

Forges a new understanding of how these two Lusophone nations are connected. The closely entwined histories of Portugal and Brazil remain key references for understanding developments--past and present--in either country. Accordingly, Fernando Arenas considers Portugal and Brazil in relation to one another in this exploration of changing definitions of nationhood, subjectivity, and utopias in both cultures. Examining the two nations' shared language and histories as well as their cultural, social, and political points of divergence, Arenas pursues these definitive changes through the realms of literature, intellectual thought, popular culture, and political discourse. Both Brazil and Portugal are subject to the economic, political, and cultural forces of postmodern globalization. Arenas analyzes responses to these trends in contemporary writers including Jose Saramago, Caio Fernando Abreu, Maria Isabel Barreno, Vergilio Ferreira, Clarice Lispector, and Maria Gabriela Llansol. Ultimately, Utopias of Otherness shows how these writers have redefined the concept of nationhood, not only through their investment in utopian or emancipatory causes such as Marxist revolution, women's liberation, or sexual revolution but also by shifting their attention to alternative modes of conceiving the ethical and political realms.

Excerpt

Para o discurso cultural português, o Brasil eXiste superlativamente, mesmo que essa eXistência seja quase sempre mítica, sobretudo como suporte simbólico dos nossos antigos sonhos imperiais. Para o discurso cultural brasileiro, Portugal eXiste pouco ou nada, mas, se eXiste, é apreendido como o pai colonizador que o Brasil teve de matar para eXistir.

Within Portuguese cultural discourse, Brazil eXists superlatively, even if such eXistence is almost always mythical, particularly as the symbolic basis for our most ancient imperial dreams. Within Brazilian cultural discourse, Portugal eXists very little or not at all, yet, if it does eXist, it is seen as the colonizing father that Brazil had to kill in order to eXist.

— Eduardo Lourenço, “Nós e o Brasil: Ressentimento e delírio” (Us and Brazil: Resentment and delirium)

The myth of the “country of the future, ” which has governed the modern Brazilian imaginary, has inevitably entailed the gradual erasure of Portugal as a primary cultural point of reference. This myth is the result of a compleX historical and cultural metamorphosis that started with the Christian utopian vision of the “earthly paradise” that was projected onto Brazil from the moment of the Portuguese arrival in 1500. Both mythical-utopian visions underscore the movement from a colonial to a postcolonial era, as well as the peculiar relationship between a weak (former) colonial power on the edge of Europe and the enormous potential of a (formerly) colonized giant in the New World. Thus, Brazil . . .

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