Being in Common: Nation, Subject, and Community in Latin American Literature and Culture

Being in Common: Nation, Subject, and Community in Latin American Literature and Culture

Being in Common: Nation, Subject, and Community in Latin American Literature and Culture

Being in Common: Nation, Subject, and Community in Latin American Literature and Culture

Synopsis

"Being in Common analyzes key works of twentieth-century Latin American literature and culture as precursors of contemporary theories of globalization. Silvia Rosman studies how texts from the 1940s and '50s by major Latin American authors, such as Alejo Carpentier, Ezequiel Martinez Estrada, Octavio Paz, and Jorge Luis Borges, provide alternatives to traditional forms of national, linguistic, or geographical belonging and thus allow us to think the commonality of experience differently. These texts offer articulations of community that challenge the totalizing and often violent homogeneity of identity or difference, the priority of the Subject and the location of culture. Rosman persuasively demonstrates how they explore ways of being in common - the communal relation - when the notion of a common being - a totalized conception of community - is shown to be untenable. In doing so she incorporates and looks beyond her predecessors theoretical resources to urgent contemporary preoccupations with how to imagine identity in a "post-national" moment." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

What is the force of the idea of community, what particular appeal does it hold despite evidence of its dislocation or dissolution, despite the sexism, xenophobia, racism, and war which should be a testament to community’s non-existence? While contemporary criticism questions the notion of an immanent unity or totality, the relation to others and the meanings of being in common remain central problematics in discussions of ethics, writing, and politics. Now more than ever a dismantling or demystification of the essentialist concepts that sustained traditional notions of community (Nation, State, People, Identity, Language, Literature) is known to be insufficient, prey as these concepts are to re-inscription as foundational categories.

Postcolonial criticism and, more recently, postnational, transnational, and globalization theories, as we will discuss in detail below, all attempt to articulate forms of the collective that presuppose the breakdown of the nation state as the guarantor of communal identification. If the nation is no longer the imagined community, to borrow Benedict Anderson’s well-known expression, these approaches propose, in different ways, that the formation of a “we” is still possible on the borders and interstices of what earlier could be called the nation. Where traditionally the nation space defines itself through a series of (often violent) exclusions, those very peoples (migrants, immigrants, minorities) that the nation leaves out of its imaginary unity accomplish its dis-location. the counter-narratives of these peoples thus challenge the homogeneity of traditional national narratives. However, these theories of the “post” are still tied to the nation, even as they affirm its collapse as a defining and delimiting concept. Postcolonial and postnational narratives must nec-

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