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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promotes the study of marginalized areas of Luso-Hispanic cultural production of any period and invites submissions of unpublished studies dealing with peripheral cultural production in the Luso-Hispanic world.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.

Fall 2020


What Could Human Rights Do? A Decolonial Inquiry

It is one thing to consider what human rights have been and another to inquire into what they could be. In this essay, I present a history of human rights vis-à-vis decolonization. I follow the scholarship of Samuel Moyn to suggest that human rights presented a “moral alternative” to political utopias. The question remains how to politicize the moral energy around human rights today. I argue that defending what Édouard Glissant calls a “right to opacity” could politicize the ethical energy around human rights today. Glissant’s right to opacity outlines a blueprint for the praxis of human rights to shift from a “functional model” to a “critical model,” to use Enrique Dussel’s distinction. My ultimate aim is to show how social movements around human rights and decolonization could converge today.

Informal Lives and Strategies of Survival on Mozambique’s Margins: João Paulo Borges Coelho’s As Duas Sombras do Rio

This article seeks to make a contribution to the literary criticism regarding the fiction of João Paulo Borges Coelho. It will show how his novel As Duas Sombras do Rio creates innovative forms to depict the harsh realities experienced by the Mozambican people. My approach includes the concept of marginality within literary theory and it moves toward an interdisciplinary treatment of marginality in Mozambique. Here societal marginality may be understood as that “by and large reflected in the underlying social conditions of people” (Gurung and Kollmair, 2005). These conditions are represented by poor living options (lack of resources, skills, and job opportunities), reduced or restricted participation in public decision-making, less use of public space, lower sense of community, and low self-esteem” (Gurung and Kollmair, 2005). In Mozambique, one cannot think of just one margin in relation to a center, but of several margins. The problem of marginality surfaces as variegated and complex, not only because the country’s borders are a result of colonialism—self-identical ethnic groups live on different sides of the national border—but they are also an outcome of the colonial and civil war. Thus, we should consider that internal margins compose urban and rural spaces as much as postcolonial margins. All of these forms of marginality are defined by survival and resistance.

Folklore as the Avant-Garde? Experimental Images of “the popular” in mid-century Chile

In this article, I analyze the work of two mid-century Chilean artists–the documentarian Sergio Bravo (1927-), and the photographer Antonio Quintana (1904-1972)–, and the form by which they use different technological media in order to capture and construct popular subjectivities. Instead of conceiving “the popular” as an archaic and traditionalistic label, both artists open new possibilities to incorporate popular subjectivities into discourses of political and artistic modernization using formal experimentation and radical aesthetics. The works of Bravo and Quintana are not only capturing a form of popular practice (they are not restricted to be ethnographic documentations), but also creating or imagining a notion of a popular subjectivity defined by hard work, effort, creativity, and eventually, the capacity to carry out a radical transformation of society. This process of “imagining” popular subjectivity coincides with the political project of claiming the worth and complexity of popular classes, which historically had been neglected by dominant discourses of Chilean culture.

Why Ecology of Knowledges and Multilingual Habitus Matter in Higher Degree Research Student Training

Scholars speaking from Southern perspectives have long argued in favor of recognizing diverse ways of knowing and against the hegemony of Euro-modernist epistemologies that have crystallized into orthodoxy within the academy. Euro-modernist epistemologies proceed from positivist “scientific” principles that turn a blind eye to the diversity of ways of reading and interpreting social experience. They reflect and represent subjective perceptions about what constitutes valid and legitimate knowledge. In this paper, we address the question: How do we prepare higher degree research students for the opportunities that flow and strategic challenges that arise from a diverse global network of knowledge societies? We suggest “ecology of knowledges paradigm” and “multilingual habitus” as the linchpin of higher degree research student training. This approach brings together diverse linguistic and cultural traditions to mediate pathways for producing interconnected forms of knowledge that transcend the limits of monolingual and mono-epistemic ways of seeing. The argument is that the struggle for cognitive justice in education and training is inseparable from the broader struggle for global social justice.

Decoloniality as an Ethical Challenge

This paper argues that, while positive attempts to integrate European ethical approaches to the decolonial context have contributed much to decolonial ethics and have their place, a better means to understand the ethical content of the decolonial is through the challenge that it poses. That is, decolonial theory itself confronts one with a challenge–if one is truly engage in decolonial critique in good faith, one must attempt to decolonize oneself, one’s relations, one’s actions, one’s life. The question of what exactly this means and the depths to which one must confront this is examined through an engagement with the work of Fausto Reinaga and his argument that we must “turn our back to Europe.” Reading this both through the context of his political engagement as indigenous activist and also through the lens of Foucault’s reflections on the Cynic as a figure who haunts philosophy, demanding that it live up to its own commitments, it finds that decoloniaty thus stands as a challenge, not just of uniting theory and practice but of living one’s thought. What both Reinaga and the Cynic have in common is the challenge–that one recognize the tensions that animate their lives and point toward the possibility of an other life.

Toward a Decolonial Feminist Research on Indigeneity in Contemporary Peru

This paper proposes a decolonial feminist framework for doing research on the representation of Indigenous women in contemporary Peruvian cultural and media production. It argues for an analytical methodology that recognizes Indigenous women gendered experience of colonialism—of being subjected to violence, made invisible and muted throughout historiography, and reduced to stagnant and degrading stereotypes in current cultural representations. It appositionally reads both the modern Peruvian nation-state and Western academic research as structures of colonial figurations that obscure the gender complexity of Indigenous identity, engaging a gender perspective that considers the contested relationship between Indigeneity and Peruvian identity, while centering Indigenous women’ political and cultural mobilities shed light on the complexities of identitarian politics and the role of hetero—and ethnonormative neoliberal regimes.

Corredores discontinuos: la ciudad escenario y lo no resuelto en Mar de leva de Octavio Escobar Giraldo

El artículo se propone estudiar la novela Mar de leva (2018) del escritor colombiano Octavio Escobar Giraldo y entender de qué manera se narra la ciudad escenario, en cuyo deambular se disipan y disimulan fracturas humanas venidas de situaciones adversas sin resolver. La novela construye una narrativa del espacio que parece no pertenecerle a nadie y al mismo tiempo a todos, en cuyo vértice se enuncian complejas cotidianidades que encubren un discurso saturado por el espectáculo que promete la ciudad escenario. Este espacio citadino arrastra la utilidad de un discurso globalista en el que, si bien se destacan los mapas nostálgicos e imaginarios de un Costaguana lejano, también formula un corredor virtual en el cual la expectativa de lo cotidiano se vive en la complejidad e incertidumbre de lo que no será.


El exilio intelectual saharaui canta la tierra

Bahia Mahmud Awah es un intelectual y activista saharaui. Es escritor, antropólogo, poeta y hombre de cultura africana. Nace en 1960 en Auserd, en el antiguo Sahara Español. Su amor por la literatura le viene de su madre, una mujer que fue erudita versada en la literatura tradicional saharaui en hasanía. Tras sus estudios superiores en Cuba, Bahia vuelve a los campamentos del exilio saharaui para servir a la causa de su tierra trabajando en la Radio Nacional Saharaui, RNS. Luego del estancamiento de la cuestión saharaui, se marcha de los campamentos en 1998 para España con el mismo compromiso y entrega: servir a la causa de su pueblo desde Europa y su mundo académico. Bahia estuvo varios años realizando programas radiofónicos de literatura en emisoras libres en Madrid y Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. El 9 de julio de 2005, junto a otros escritores saharauis, crea en Madrid el grupo de escritores del exilio saharui conocido como “La Generación de la Amistad Saharaui”; una plataforma de expresión intelectual que defiende y difunde la historia y cultura del Sahara Occidental. En esta entrevista, Bahia comparte las frustraciones y esperanzas del pueblo saharaui en su proceso de liberación nacional. Obviamente, su  escritura y su pensamiento se nutren del dolor de un exilio que parece interminable.De cualquier manera, el poeta y antropólogo quiere mantener, a pesar de todo, un rayo de esperanza en la travesía de este valle de la sombra de la muerte, que es este largo exilio de más de cuarenta años.

Book Reviews

Hind, Emily. Dude Lit: Mexican Men Writing and Performing Competence, 1955-2012. The University of Arizona Press, 2019. 320 pp.

Hind, Emily. Dude Lit: Mexican Men Writing and Performing Competence, 1955-2012. The University of Arizona Press, 2019. 320 pp.

Ramos, Julio and Dylon Robbins, eds. Guillén Landrián o el desconcierto fílmico. Almenara, 2019. 303pp.

Ramos, Julio and Dylon Robbins, eds. Guillén Landrián o el desconcierto fílmico . Almenara, 2019. 303pp.

Judith Sierra-Rivera. Affective Intellectuals and the Space of Catastrophe in the Americas. The Ohio State University Press, 2018. 217 pp.

Judith Sierra-Rivera. Affective Intellectuals and the Space of Catastrophe in the Americas. The Ohio State University Press, 2018. 217 pp.