The Exhaustion of Difference

The Politics of Latin American Cultural Studies

The Exhaustion of Difference

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: Published: September 2001

Cultural Studies, Latin American Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

The conditions for thinking about Latin America as a regional unit in transnational academic discourse have shifted over the past decades. In The Exhaustion of Difference Alberto Moreiras ponders the ramifications of this shift and draws on deconstruction, Marxian theory, philosophy, political economy, subaltern studies, literary criticism, and postcolonial studies to interrogate the minimal conditions for an effective critique of knowledge given the recent transformations of the contemporary world.
What, asks Moreiras, is the function of critical reason in the present moment? What is regionalistic knowledge in the face of globalization? Can regionalistic knowledge be an effective tool for a critique of contemporary reason? What is the specificity of Latin Americanist reflection and how is it situated to deal with these questions? Through examinations of critical regionalism, restitutional excess, the historical genealogy of Latin American subalternism, testimonio literature, and the cultural politics of magical realism, Moreiras argues that while cultural studies is increasingly institutionalized and in danger of reproducing the dominant ideologies of late capitalism, it is also ripe for giving way to projects of theoretical reformulation. Ultimately, he claims, critical reason must abandon its allegiance to aesthetic-historicist projects and the destructive binaries upon which all cultural theories of modernity have been constructed.
The Exhaustion of Difference makes a significant contribution to the rethinking of Latin American cultural studies.


“Alberto Moreiras has been a persistent force in the field of Latin American studies by posing bold and challenging questions about the epistemic, ethical, and aesthetic nature of the discipline. . . . The Exhaustion of Difference effectively reframes many present debates in Latin American and postcolonial studies and constitutes a welcomed intervention in the field.” — Francisco Ortega, Interventions

“The conditions for thinking about Latin America as a regional unit in transnational academic discourse have shifted over the past decades. Alberto Moreiras argues that the field of cultural studies is ripe for theoretical reformulation.” — Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

"[A] sophisticated application of poststructuralist analysis that problematizes the function of critical reasoning in the context of globalization. . . . [C]onceptually sophisticated. . . ." — Latin American Research Review

"[E]xcellent. . . ." — Juan E. Poblete , Symploke

"The time is certainly ripe for a book with the ambition and competence this one doubtless has. . . . [I]t succeeds admirably in its project of intellectually ransoming and enhancing Latin Americanism, and of clearing a space for meaningful debate." — Gordon Brotherston, Journal of Latin American Studies

The Exhaustion of Difference ‘pushes Latin Americanist fulfilment against its limits.’ The limits radiate out into the networks of subalternities, locationisms, Area Studies/Cultural Studies, globalization and transculturation—and beyond. In these pages high theory is at home with Latin American intellectual history and deft textual analysis.” — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, author of A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present

“With extreme clarity of argument and intellectual sophistication, this book subjects the field’s epistemic diagram to a radical questioning that upsets the sociological and literary conventionalism of Latin American thinking on identity and difference, globalization and locality, and culture and politics. The rigor and positional force with which this book deploys its polemical apparatus will alter the academic pathways of reflection on Latin America.” — Nelly Richard, Editor, Revista de Crítica Cultural


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Alberto Moreiras is Anne and Robert Bass Professor of Romance Studies and Literature at Duke University. He is also coeditor of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies and coeditor of Nepantla: Views from South.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Introduction: Conditions of Latin Americanist Critique

1. Global Fragments

2. Negative Globality and Critical Regionalism

3. Theoretical Fictions and Fatal Conceits

4. Restitution and Appropriation

5. The National Popular in Antonio Candido and Jorge Luis Borges

6. The End of Magical Realism: Jose Maria Arguedas’s Passionate Signifier

7. The Aura of Testimonio

8. The Order of Order: On the Reluctant Culturalism of Anti-Subalternist Critiques

9. Hybridity and Double Consciousness


Works Cited


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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2724-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2726-4
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