Embers of the Past

Essays in Times of Decolonization

Embers of the Past

Latin America Otherwise

More about this series

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: Published: September 2013

Author: Javier Sanjines C.

Translator: David Frye

Contributor: Walter D. Mignolo

Latin American Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

Embers of the Past is a powerful critique of historicism and modernity. Javier Sanjinés C. analyzes the conflict between the cultures and movements of indigenous peoples and attention to the modern nation-state in its contemporary Latin American manifestations. He contends that indigenous movements have introduced doubt into the linear course of modernity, reopening the gap between the symbolic and the real. Addressing this rupture, Sanjines argues that scholars must rethink their temporal categories. Toward that end, he engages with recent events in Latin America, particularly in Bolivia, and with Latin American intellectuals, as well as European thinkers disenchanted with modernity. Sanjinés dissects the concepts of the homogeneous nation and linear time, and insists on the need to reclaim the indigenous subjectivities still labeled "premodern" and excluded from the production, distribution, and organization of knowledge.


“There is a careful logic to how the four pieces fit together…. Throughout Embers of the Past, Sanjinés provides a study on the permanence of the past into the present, meditating on the need to shift the locus of enunciation from which we speak when we encounter, think about, and ultimately struggle against coloniality.” — Eugenia Demuro, Postcolonial Studies

“[T]here is much depth of knowledge and insight in Sanjines’s sparkling literary history of Bolivia (and Latin America).... When read along with Sanjines’s first major English-language book… this striking set of essays opens new windows onto Bolivia’s variegated cultural and literary landscapes.” — Brooke Larson, Canadian Journal of History

"Embers of the Past is a major statement on nation-building and nation deconstruction. Arguing that the construction of nations on the bases of modernity and linear history facilitated the rise of Europeans and the decline of Latin American communities, Javier Sanjinés C. unravels not only those concepts but also others including Eurocentrism, capitalism, multitude, indio, criollo, leterado, and iletrado. He calls for the disarticulation of Western thinking and metaphors, the debunking of 'universalism' and 'progress.'" — Ileana Rodríguez, author of Liberalism at its Limits: Crime and Terror in the Latin American Cultural Text

"In Embers of the Past, Javier C. Sanjinés takes as his point of departure the problems of modernity and Western models of development in present-day Bolivia. Yet this fascinating book can be usefully applied in any society with a significant subalternized or racialized population. Sanjinés reveals ethnicity as a complex process of reworking and reinventing culture, a process that relates the present with the ancestral past in more composite ways than one would have imagined." — Arturo Arias, author of Taking Their Word: Literature and the Signs of Central America


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Javier Sanjinés C. is Professor of Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of books including Mestizaje Upside-Down: Aesthetic Politics in Modern Bolivia.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix

Acknowledgments xi

Foreword / Walter Mignolo xiii

Introduction. Modernity in the Balance, The "Transgressive" Essay, and Decolonization 1

1. The Changing Faces of Historical Time 29

2. Is the Nation an Imagined Community 57

3. "Now Time": Subaltern Pasts and Contested Historicism 97

4. The Dimensions of the Nation and the Displacements of Social Metaphor in Bolivia 143

Notes 183

References 197

Index 209

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5476-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5444-4
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