Insisting on the critical value of Latin American histories for recasting theories of postcolonialism, After Spanish Rule is the first collection of essays by Latin Americanist historians and anthropologists to engage postcolonial debates from the perspective of the Americas. These essays extend and revise the insights of postcolonial studies in diverse Latin American contexts, ranging from the narratives of eighteenth-century travelers and clerics in the region to the status of indigenous intellectuals in ...
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After Spanish Rule: Postcolonial Predicaments of the Americas

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Insisting on the critical value of Latin American histories for recasting theories of postcolonialism, After Spanish Rule is the first collection of essays by Latin Americanist historians and anthropologists to engage postcolonial debates from the perspective of the Americas. These essays extend and revise the insights of postcolonial studies in diverse Latin American contexts, ranging from the narratives of eighteenth-century travelers and clerics in the region to the status of indigenous intellectuals in present-day Colombia. The editors argue that the construction of an array of singular histories at the intersection of particular colonialisms and nationalisms must become the critical project of postcolonial history-writing.

Challenging the universalizing tendencies of postcolonial theory as it has developed in the Anglophone academy, the contributors are attentive to the crucial ways in which the histories of Latin American countries—with their creole elites, hybrid middle classes, subordinated ethnic groups, and complicated historical relationships with Spain and the United States—differ from those of other former colonies in the southern hemisphere. Yet, while acknowledging such differences, the volume suggests a host of provocative, critical connections to colonial and postcolonial histories around the world.

Thomas Abercrombie
Shahid Amin
Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra
Peter Guardino
Andrés Guerrero
Marixa Lasso
Javier Morillo-Alicea
Joanne Rappaport
Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo
Mark Thurner

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

After Spanish Rule occupies the ground between Latin American exceptionalism and the so-called universalism of postcolonial studies. These essays enrich the field of postcolonial studies by bringing Latin American materials within its purview.”—Gyan Prakash, editor of After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822385332
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2003
  • Series: Latin America Otherwise
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Mark Thurner is Associate Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Florida. He is the author of From Two Republics to One Divided: Contradictions of Postcolonial Nationmaking in Andean Peru, also published by Duke University Press.

Andrés Guerrero is affiliated with La Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), a research institute with branches in all Latin American countries. He is the author of numerous books in Spanish.

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After Spanish Rule

Postcolonial Predicaments of the Americas
By Mark Thurner

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2003 Mark Thurner
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780822331575

Chapter One

ESCRITURA On Imagining/Writing Postcolonial Histories


Point and Counterpoint

Translated by Mark Thurner

In his foreword to this volume Shahid Amin makes a suggestive reading of the problem of the lack of communication among the localities of "the South." I cannot help but hear in his prose a note of nostalgia that conjures up an orphan's mourning-even if the reverberations ring only in my ears and not in his words. Studies in the derivative perspective of the periphery, the great debates of old on the variations from the model of Europe (to which one would have to add the United States the omitted alter, shadow of the constitutive dialogue of modern Europe since well before Alexis de Toqueville), now float without a home and no longer make sense.

What occurs to us now is perhaps not unlike what Hegel proposed in the dialectic of master and slave. When the master(patron in Spanish, which has the double meaning of owner and model) dies, the dependent consciousness, the slave, who longed for her master's death so as to be free, celebrates her autonomy. But the fiesta lasts but one night, then the day dawns and it is time to take stock. The now autonomous consciousness discovers that with her master gone she must now face, on her own, the implacable Lord of the Absolute, the chaos of finitude without order, of death without sense. Is this what afflicts us when we from the South get together to tell our histories in these new times without masters, without patrones? Is it the discovery of that weighty and ill-stowed notion that the enjoyment of autonomy does not in itself guarantee the creation of signification?

The order of things in the world is not what it once was. That old order of nearly natural facts given by and for their very existence, once and for all time, is past. Now the order of things is an always questionable creation, a task forever in need of restarting: ephemeral equilibria, nothing more. For, as Shahid Amin reminds us, the grand furrows of history that only yesterday we ploughed so enthusiastically (those channels that seemed so secure, with the lines of signification always clearly traced and perennial, like those of Nazca) lent meaning to the labor of narrating the history of each in his or her South. It was the history of her variant of capitalist development, of his specific constitution of the nation and its productions, of her subalterns and his national projects. Similarly, in the universities it was the history that embraced one's original area studies interest, demarcated and bounded by competing academies, each with their patent and indispensable revisions and critiques.

Those well-worn perspectives of a discursive construction within which we naively and inexhaustibly conjured up historical narratives are revealed to us today as merry journeys among the universal images of counterpoised mirrors, as illusive representations that copy one another time and again, where reality becomes an abyss at the point of escape from the reflections. Yet we also cannot escape that watery canal that flows from the wheel (noria) of reality by grasping for the tree of theory, for an Esperanto in which only academics and intellectuals may be initiated, so as to dialogue among ourselves in a Tower of Babel of particular histories of the South. In grasping for the theory, Shahid Amin warns (with emphasis on the singular, perhaps, so as not to preclude all those lighter-traveling theories that circulate these days), we run the risk of closing the sluice gate that retains the seas of imagination and the torrents of ideas.


Shahid Amin's foreword to this volume, it seems to me, advances three proposals, of which I would like to expand on a little. The first proposal is that perhaps the postcolonial, as the instituted fiction of a historical unity, may build bridges across the dispersed archipelagos of the histories of the South. Not in the sense of offering "the new theory" that would allow us to finally understand one another (a new conceptual universalism albeit from the periphery, in the style of what dependency theory was in the 1960s), but rather as a proposal for a new style or profile of sensibility. No doubt this would be a risky and ambitious invention, an imposition on the chaos that may not be entirely justified. It would appear to consist in refocusing historical reflection from the vantage point of a new temporal and processual watchtower. After the colonial, the postcolonial would demarcate something like a Bahktinian contact zone where historical discourses about the Ganges or Cauca valleys would engage in conflicts of hybridization (stylization, representation, dialogue). The postcolonial, as it were, as a flyover of the imagination above those themes and areas of study that connect otherwise dispersed histories. This effort would require working on the assumption, with the parameter of the postcolonial instituted in the center, and with the scope of visibility it extends, that clusters or conjunctions of unity (conjuntos de union), in the mathematical sense, would appear in the particular histories around those themes selected for a common characteristic.

These common themes would not appear in all postcolonial histories of the South but rather only in those associated by bonds of kinship, preference, or affinity. These would be the units of signification that, after Wittgenstein, carry the sense and pragmatic use of notions with an extension or domain unenclosed by a limit. For example, the meaning of the word play (juego) is understood by another only when an indication such as "that play" or "that's how you play" is given, or because there is a definition by consensus that fixes a precise limit, contingent and temporal, in reference to the context of the moment. The importance of such open units is manifest in that they allow one to imagine (and thus visualize) communities of problems and concepts among historical phenomena that otherwise remain dispersed and fragmented, when not hidden in the shadows.

The second proposal would be that which is now being developed by certain authors who, ignoring academic boundaries, investigate transverse themes and compose narratives of individuals or social groups that link histories across imperial, national, or regional boundaries. This is no doubt a method rich in promise that could be expanded by the ongoing process of lending as well as unconscious cross-fertilization that is now occurring among the histories of the South. But because Mark Thurner develops this proposal in the essay following I will pass on to Amin's next suggestion.

Amin's third and final proposal is double-faced: it demands an effort in reading and another in writing. Even if the first two proposals are implemented there is still a residue which, like all things superficial, remains indispensable for the necessary task of communication. The heap of histories of the South whose object is immediate readings and performative writings are each entangled in the world called the local-that world signified by the political field and the cultural creativity of everyday life. Are these histories readable to third parties? Or, rather, from what moorings might "aliens" read them? The problem is complicated. In principle, a particular history torn from the local context, from the conjuncture and purpose (implicit and explicit, individual and social) that guide the author, would appear to fall into the nonsensical when it arrives from the South, for someone who, besieged by more pressing urgencies, reads it immersed in her or his other world of the South. We should remember that before we used to read-although I suspect that we continue to read, after the midnight hour-the local histories of the center as the place of history. All the questions about the significance of reading the particular of the center elicited an obvious answer: these were not stories, nor were they local, and even less particular; these were universal tendencies that pushed world processes and fixed the style of narration.

It is well known that reading requires a labor of elaboration, the creation of refracted significance in the discourses that populate the world of the reader. Perhaps it would be possible to propose a pedagogy in the world of common sense. It might consist of inventing a tradition among southerners-until it became customary practice-around diverse manners of reading that could be carried out with a sensibility open to the search for familial airs (aires de familia) (linkages, associations, suggestions) between the particular world of the author and the local world of the reader. Such an invented tradition would not fail to cultivate the search for models (concepts and epistemologies) that would also be reinterpreted from a connective sensibility that, unaccepting of binary copy, always insists on a minimally triangular recreation; that is, the invention of something else, of something that exists in a position of disparity vis-a-vis the model. Is it an almost Nietzschean thoughtful contemplation that Amin proposes? A reading driven by a curiosity that revels in a state of admiration, without the search for functionality? An appropriation without replication? An inspiration? Amin brings this theme to the writing of histories so that they may be read from that open sensibility that would become customary. The problem does not reside in finding one form of writing but rather in cultivating as many styles of writing as there are of reading.

Histories exist that are written to be read within the atmospheres in which they flowered. This is the idyllic situation where an author and a reader coincide in the same here and now, real and imaginary-as when we read Frantz Fanon in the 1960s, or so Amin recalls in a moment of nostalgia. Are there any histories written to be read in other local worlds? This would suppose that an author could have addressed himself not only to unknown readers but to unimaginable ones as well. I find this question intriguing. Perhaps it was this kind of differentiated writing and reading that the Subaltern Studies group brought from the South: an almost involuntary proposal to recreate writing and reading. This group (I say group but I suspect that its existence was more than anywhere else in the journal's table of contents) of authors who wrote for a local imagined public opened-without knowing or wanting it (that is, for conjunctural reasons of a particular, individual, and emotional nature)-lines of communication between the Souths. The ramifications of these connections remain to be explored, as for example in the case of the translation into Spanish and the publication in Bolivia, under the editorship of Rossana Barragan and Silvia Rivera, of selected Subaltern Studies.

rouse echoes and reverberations in the pragmatic imagination of other researchers distracted by other histories. The object would be to create a perpetual movement of disequilibrium between concepts and processes, analysis and narration; to generate an intensity of propositions whose potential creativity seduces to the point of provoking an effect of mimesis. Being a proposal of displacement, connection, and discompensation it could only become a model in order to create yet another state of instability.

To copy this model of instability, to attempt an idealization, to attempt the impossible repetition of the same (that impulse that is excited by the specific creativity that resides in the breast of the particular in a history, at a specific moment in the life of the historian, that of his interlocutors and in the questions that occupy them) it would be necessary to modify the conditions of reverberation (so that it should oscillate once again, like a Calder mobile) among the concepts and processes until the ties that bind them are, at one point or another, snapped. The act of creation, by derivation and failure, is that which retains only a certain familial air with the model. Perhaps it is in such a detour that something new may emerge.

Perhaps what was missing at the New Delhi conference organized by SEPHIS, to which Amin refers in his foreword, was that we did not arrive at a sufficient intensity of tensions, a disequilibrium of charges between problems of theory and method and those of history, and vice versa. Perhaps this would have facilitated an exchange among people from the four corners of the South, each impassioned with and engaged in his or her particular history.


In the writings and readings of our pasts, when has there been any communication from the South to the South? As in the old days when, in the South, we read about the South via its rereading in the North? Perhaps the yardstick of the lack of communication is the best measure of what we have lost: the negation of organic historical hybridizations, the disappearance of linguistic contact zones. Histories coexist without cross-fertilization and without interference from one another; the echo of dialogical struggle among them is muffled. The narratives that we tell of our histories do not create a natural dialogue when interlocutors travel from South to South or when, in that rarest of events, they get together for a few days to exchange ideas. I experienced this lack of communication firsthand at that SEPHIS conference in New Delhi. Each participant brought his or her particular history, that which was his or her plaything. None were indifferent to these histories; we all listened attentively to each other, and without further discussion we each went our way. No bridges were built-there was very little exchange and no debate to speak of. What were the causes of our mutual deafness?


Excerpted from After Spanish Rule by Mark Thurner Copyright © 2003 by Mark Thurner. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

After Spanish Rule
Postcolonial predicaments of the Americas
Edited by Mark Thurner and Andres Guerrero
Foreword by Shahid Amin
Duke University Press
Durham and London 2003

After Spanish Rule: Postcolonial Predicaments of the
Americas is a significant addition and makes a signal contribution to
Latin America Otherwise. First, the volume is centered on a South-South dialogue and, therefore, it provides a re-centering that is at the same time a dis-centering. Contributions by scholars from the North embrace the change of perspectives and by so doing they offer a telling example of the possibilities that the postcolonial paradigm, in sensu largo, offers to the still hegemonic and Euro-centered postmodern paradigm. Secondly, the volume makes a decisive contribution to the process of redoing the history of the Americas and, therefore, it enters into dialogue with
American Studies at the same time that it indirectly questions many of the assumptions under which Latin American Studies has been operating since its foundation in 1964. After Spanish rule, "The Americas" became a place of different, contending national projects, which resulted in the marginalization of the non-Latin and non-Anglo population, that is,
of indigenous people and people of African descent. This volume opens the door to explorations that have been absent in "Latin"
American Studies.

(for final manuscript 10/20/2002)
* Acknowledgments [1]
* Table of Contents [2]
Part 1: ESCRITURA: on imagining/writing postcolonial histories [4]
* Foreword Shahid Amin [5]
* Point and counterpoint Andrés Guerrero [12]
* After Spanish Rule: Writing another after Mark Thurner [24]
* Essaying the history of national images Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo [109]
Part 2: POETICA: knowledges, nations, histories [157]
* Post-colonialism avante l'lettre? Travelers and clerics in eighteenth-century colonial Spanish America Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra [158]
* 'Aquel laberinto de oficinas': Ways of knowing empire in late nineteenth-century Spain Javier Morillo-Alicea [196]
* Peruvian genealogies of history and nation Mark Thurner [250]
* Mothers and mistresses of the urban Bolivian public sphere: Postcolonial predicament and national imaginary in Oruro's carnival Thomas Abercrombie [304]
* Redrawing the nation: Indigenous intellectuals and ethnic pluralism in contemporary Colombia Joanne Rappaport [380]
Part 3: POLITICA: governmentalities, states, subjects [443]
* Revisiting independence day: Afro-Colombian politics and Creole patriot narratives, 1809-1815 Marixa Lasso [444]
* Postcolonialism as self-fulfilled prophecy: Electoral politics in Oaxaca, 1814-1828 Peter Guardino [488]
* The administration of dominated populations under a regime of 'customary' citizenship: The case of postcolonial Ecuador Andrés Guerrero [530]
* Index [595]

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication: Latin America History 1830-1898, Latin America Historiography, Postcolonialism Latin America, Literature and history Latin America, Latin America Relations Spain, Spain Relations Latin America, Latin America Relations Foreign countries, Nationalism Latin America

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