Save Latin America Essay

Save Latin America Essay-25
In a recent essay, Alberto Moreiras worries that the field of Latin American cultural studies has been adrift for the last decade.So worried, in fact, that he arrives to the field’s major conference, LASA, held earlier this year in San Francisco, wondering if he should quit his job as a professor and go into a more practical line of work. If a new collective critical project can get hashed out at LASA, he suggests, Latin American cultural studies could perhaps recover its capacity for political intervention.

In a recent essay, Alberto Moreiras worries that the field of Latin American cultural studies has been adrift for the last decade.So worried, in fact, that he arrives to the field’s major conference, LASA, held earlier this year in San Francisco, wondering if he should quit his job as a professor and go into a more practical line of work. If a new collective critical project can get hashed out at LASA, he suggests, Latin American cultural studies could perhaps recover its capacity for political intervention.

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It makes sense, then, that would engage with a left that was yet to come; it wasn’t yet clear what shape the left was going to take in the new world order.

As Moreiras writes, “my intention is not merely critical; it is also preparatory.

If there is to be a politics of Latin American cultural studies that may have a chance of grasping what the political is, in other words, a politics that would not be merely administration, but one that could conceivably have some effect in preparing a transformation, I believe it must be articulated through as relentless and savage a practice of clearing as possible.”In his recent essay, Moreiras seems to be prescribing the same plan for Latin American cultural studies that he did in : the “relentless and savage” critique of structures of domination as preparation for the arrival of an emancipatory social movement.

Now, more than a decade later, it’s no longer so clear why Moreiras would propose yet again a collective project based on deconstructive critique.

By giving up his hermeneutic authority to a more “popular thinking,” Moreiras would have to betray deconstruction’s “ethics of knowledge.” Beverley’s observations suggest that Moreiras’s call to revive the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group is actually less grand in ambition—that his political project is restricted to the academy itself, to the reconquest of status for deconstructive critique within humanities departments, rather than an engagement with an emancipatory political project.

Nonetheless, Moreiras’s question still stands: how could Latin American cultural studies recover its potential for political intervention?As he puts it, “a new framework from which to think collectively, with the necessary disputes, starting from a new will to articulate politics with the critique of knowledge.” At LASA, Moreiras finds this framework in Jon Beasley-Murray’s theory of posthegemony.Undoubtedly, Beasley-Murray’s theory opens up exciting possibilities for Latin American cultural studies.Moreiras proposes working for a left that is yet to come; Beverley for what passes for a left these days but is actually a center-left.They both suggest, in different ways, that a viable radical left still hasn’t emerged in Latin America to respond to a regime of globalized capital.As a model for such a project, Moreiras looks to the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group, which was active from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, and which was made up almost entirely of academics working in the United States, including himself.In what follows, I call into doubt whether Moreiras’ proposal really follows the example of the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group.Yet where activists have found ways to engage with these social movements, critics have mostly seemed befuddled by them.Perhaps the problem is that we don’t know how to deal with social movements that don’t try to win power through the state. Most critics, including the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group, treated them as a sort of radical identity politics movement attempting to win certain rights and recognitions from the state.Could it really be that a new left hasn’t emerged in the intervening decade?A left with which Latin American cultural studies could renew its critical and political project?

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