Academic journal article Antipodes

Identity as Radical Alterity: Critiques of Eurocentrism, Coloniality, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Australian and Latin American Poetry1

Academic journal article Antipodes

Identity as Radical Alterity: Critiques of Eurocentrism, Coloniality, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Australian and Latin American Poetry1

Article excerpt

Frantz Fanon 's cry "Let's abandon Europe," is nothing but a sentence. It is impossible to abandon what is already ingrained in the creative personality of the Americas, in its mental structure of hierarchy and value.

- Ángel Rama (qtd. in Mignolo, 165).

HOW TO "ABANDON EUROPE" ? THE OXYMORONIC QUEST TO semantically or ideologically discard the signs of that which signifies modern thought and historical rationality in Europe's colonies is dismissed by Rama (above) as futile. However, when the postcolonial relations of "peripheries" to the European "center" are examined, the engagements between the colonies and Europe are not characterized by straightforwardness either. While complete abandonment may not be possible, neither is complete affiliation. As such, postcoloniality can still be seen as a liminal state in its ambivalent positioning between what might be seen as an originary Europe and a derivative periphery.

This article takes the periphery as a transnational, multilingual space, and it takes postcoloniality beyond the Anglosphere. It tests the hypothesis that there are postcolonial legacies shared across the Global Soudi. Of central importance here is how postcoloniality is understood in Australia and Latin America, and how this is communicated in contemporary poetry and pensamiento iattnoamericano ["Latin American thought"].

To re-emphasize discourses of complex and agonistic analyses of Eurocentricity for canonical postcolonial theory is to re-problematize modernity and coloniality in the lexicons of postcolonial studies, as well as to broaden the scope of these studies, both historically (back to the fifteenth century) and geographically (to the Spanish and Portuguese colonies). Eurocentric histories provide a connecting point between Australia and Latin America, and an investigation along these lines underscores perhaps unlikely affiliations that exist despite large linguistic and cultural differences. Eurocentricity, as a limit to postcoloniality, is incompletely mapped in contemporary postcolonial studies, particularly in relation to its potential transnational and comparative, non-Anglophonic usage.

In his influential essay "Colonialidad de poder, eurocentrismo y América Latina" ["Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism and Latin America"], Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano argues that:

La globalización en curso es, en primer término, la culminación de un proceso que comenzó con la constitución de América y la del capitalismo colonial/moderno y eurocentrado como un nuevo patrón de poder mundial. (201)

[Globalization is, in the first place, the culmination of a process that began with the constitution of America and the constitution of modern/colonial and Eurocentered capitalism as a new pattern of world power.]

Quijano's position on imperialism is thus one that structures modern power as a function of colonialism and that reads capitalism as the extension of the systems of racial classification and domination endemic to colonialist reason. For Quijano, modernity was coterminous with the colonization of America (Modernity 212) - an argument that parallels that of Argentine philosopher Enrique Dussel, who asserts that "Modernity is, in fact, a European phenomenon, but one constituted in a dialectical relation with a non-European alterity that is its ultimate content" (Eurocentrism 65). In the work of Quijano and Dussel, modernity is extended both historically and ideologically, and is strongly tied to European colonialisms, bound as it is to the dialectic of self and other.

According to both Quijano and Dussel, modernity originated in what Quijano terms the "violent encounter between Europe and America at the end of the fifteenth century" (Modernity 202). Against accounts of modernity as coexistent with the Enlightenment (or, more broadly, as a phenomenon of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), this position aligns modernity with the logic of colonialism rather than solely with rationalism or scientific progress. …

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