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Open Access Publications from the University of California


TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, a peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary journal of Luso-Hispanic and U.S. Latino literary and cultural studies, is published by eScholarship and is part of the University of California. The Journal promotes the study of marginalized areas of Luso-Hispanic cultural production of any period and invites submissions of unpublished studies dealing with peripheral cultural production in the Luso-Hispanic world. It also welcomes relevant interdisciplinary work, interviews and book reviews, as they relate to “South-to-South” dynamics between formerly colonized peoples. Although the Journal is mostly devoted to non-canonical work, it will consider articles that rethink canonical texts from postcolonial and transmodern approaches.

Special Issue: Hispanic and Lusophone Whiteness Studies


Introduction to the Special Issue: Another Turn of the Screw Toward Hispanic and Lusophone Whiteness Studies

Introduction to the Special Issue: Another Turn of the Screw Toward Hispanic and Lusophone Whiteness Studies


From Oppressive to Benign: A Comparative History of the Construction of Whiteness in Brazil in the Post Abolition Era

This essay deconstructs the ways in which Brazilian patriotic intellectuals transformed the oppressive whiteness of the Portuguese colonial project to what I call “benign whiteness.” After providing a brief history of the development of whiteness and hybridity in Latin America, I highlight patriotism and racism in thinkers such as Cuban José Martí, Uruguayan Enrique Rodó, and Brazilian Euclides da Cunha. After World War I, Brazilian cultural elites, along with the bourgeois state, promoted and institutionalized cultural hybridity as a unique trait that bound Brazilians together in a superior way to the United States. The patriotic trope of hybridity masked white privilege while benign whiteness stymied racial solidarity even as it continued to marginalize non-white populations. I show how whites and many almost whites along with foreign intellectuals, helped propagate the idea of Brazilian benign whiteness, an ideology that continues to impact Latin Americans today.

The Integration of the White into the Community of Color, or How the Europeans Became Brazilian in the Twentieth Century

Studies of immigrant integration in Europe and North America generally assume that immigrants are less white and considered less “modern” than the nationals of the countries where they arrive. In this essay, my purpose is to examine what happens when we apply the idea of “immigrant integration” to European immigrants who arrived in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. These immigrants and their descendants have faced a contradiction between integrating into a national “imagined community,” constructed as “mixed-race,” and participating in local, national and global projects of (white) “modernity.” The paper explores how this contradiction was historically constructed in Brazil, how some Brazilians of European descent resolved it, and how we can think of the relationship between race, modernity, nationhood and immigrant integration from a more global perspective.

Hacia una España verdadera: calidades estéticas y raciales de lo blanco en la obra de Federico García Lorca

En el presente artículo se estudia la relación del poeta andaluz Federico García Lorca con la blanquitud. La lectura temprana de la obra filosófica de Nietzsche es uno de los resortes que desatan la búsqueda lorquiana de una verdad profunda dionisiaca cuya antítesis se sitúa en el ámbito de la blanquitud apolínea. La gran obsesión de Lorca es hallar una calidad misteriosa de verdad profunda de tipo místico que el poeta explora a través del cante primitivo andaluz y que reconoce también en la música y la danza afroamericana. La búsqueda de esa verdad profunda implica, en el plano estético, el desenmascaramiento del arte deshumanizado en boga en los años veinte. Se verá, a través del análisis de “Oda a Salvador Dalí” y Romancero gitano, que lo que mueve a Lorca en su defensa y representación del gitano o, después, del negro afroamericano es, además de su solidaridad innegable con los pueblos perseguidos, una estilización de la verdad dionisiaca “impura” que está en la raíz de su inquietud artística. En última instancia, la obra de Lorca contribuye a visibilizar una realidad racial diversa en una España tradicionalmente resistente a aceptar un mestizaje que está en la raíz de su historia.

Whiteness as Airmindedness: Juan de la Cierva (1923-1925), Film and the Airplane

Spanish film culture of the 1920s celebrated the aspirations of technological power and the enjoyment of or anxiety around technology. This chapter historicizes a set of propaganda films made in Spain between 1923 and 1925 about Juan de la Cierva’s invention, the Autogiro, a machine that fused the airplane and helicopter. These short hybrid media artifacts—a coalescence of documentary, actualité, and advertisement—promoted de la Cierva’s invention while also drawing upon and furthering ideas about whiteness and its intimate, if not generative, connection with technology. Balancing theoretical frameworks provided by Paul Virilio and Friedrich Kittler with Richard Dyer and Judy Wajcman’s arguments about the raced and gendered construction of technology, I argue that these cinematic objects, which entertained cinemagoers and served military interests, were deeply saturated with the discourse of whiteness. The implicit assumptions of this race rhetoric, which were built into the material specificity of the airplane, were the control of the Spanish and European-identified race over this conquest of the air and the maintenance of the white viewer-driver-pilot.

Spain Is (Not So) Different: Whitening Spain through Late Francoist Comedy

This study argues that the popular comedy cinema of late Francoism (roughly 1960-75), known as comedia sexy, comedia celtibérica, or simply landismo, aimed to shift the international perception of Spain away from racialized stereotypes of the nation’s Africanness in order to move it closer to a white European identity. Troubled by the reputation of Francoism as anachronistic in a context of global decolonization, civil rights in the U.S., and rapid social and economic change within Spain, the regime used the popular cinema industry, which was closely aligned with it ideologically, to portray Spain as upwardly mobile on a geopolitical hierarchy that was imagined as a black/white racial paradigm. Specifically, by intertwining the macho ibérico/sueca narrative trope with racist caricatures of blacks, this cinema aimed to accentuate Spain’s upward geopolitical and racial mobility by contrasting it with the fixity of racial others, while simultaneously retaining a deracialized, commodifiable “difference” as a competitive advantage on the world stage.

From Impurity of Thought Toward the Glocalization of Whiteness in Spain

This paper is structured in three parts. Firstly, the introduction aims to visualize the trajectory of Spain’s racial rhetoric in relation to whiteness, and its European counterparts’ historical processes of racialization, thus offering an explanation to the acute lack of studies regarding Spanish whiteness. Subsequently, I offer a study that revisits the cultural, symbolical transformation following the Transición Española through Amanece, que no es poco (1988) to examine how Spain disregarded notions of mestizaje in this period, beginning to bound up Spanish whiteness with European multiculturalism, as much as with a long-imagined, Western modernity. The analysis demonstrates how Spain instrumentalized blackness merely as an ideological means to raise awareness of social distance in the Spanish white racial formation, while subsuming the experience of blackness into the cultural practices of whiteneness. To conclude, I link the study to the present day’s racial conceptions, assuming that, in a culturally globalized world, Spain may have decisively integrated into a relatively homogeneous, glocal sensibility of whiteness.

Mar de plástico: Masculinity, Whiteness, and Eastern European Migrants in Spanish Prime Time Television

The following essay analyzes representations of whiteness and its imbrication with both masculinity and the construction of Eastern European migrants in the Spanish TV drama Mar de plástico (2015). The violent, white masculinity of the protagonist, Héctor Aguirre, frames him as a protector of the weak and victimized, and the type of man needed to resolve the many problems plaguing Spanish society. By contrast, the whiteness of Eastern European migrants is portrayed as insidious and threatening to the safety and social structure of the community. Both of these engagements with whiteness stem from feelings of uncertainty and anger in broader Spanish society with entrenched economic and class hierarchies, as well a reaction to changing demographics and new influxes of immigrants. The innovative aspects of the show: a desire to create a well-produced, cinematic experience as well as engage with socially-relevant topics, unfortunately are only skin deep, because the narrative falls back on stereotyped portrayals of immigrants and a white, warrior-hero masculinity.