Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality, and the Cultures of Greater Mexico


New Americanists

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Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 9 illustrations Published: December 2011

American Studies, Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

A founder of U.S.-Mexico border studies, José David Saldívar is a leading figure in efforts to expand the scope of American studies. In Trans-Americanity, he advances that critical project by arguing for a transnational, antinational, and "outernational" paradigm for American studies. Saldívar urges Americanists to adopt a world-system scale of analysis. "Americanity as a Concept," an essay by the Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano and Immanuel Wallerstein, the architect of world-systems analysis, serves as a theoretical touchstone for Trans-Americanity. In conversation not only with Quijano and Wallerstein, but also with the theorists Gloria Anzaldúa, John Beverley, Ranajit Guha, Walter D. Mignolo, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Saldívar explores questions of the subaltern and the coloniality of power, emphasizing their location within postcolonial studies. Analyzing the work of José Martí, Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, and many other writers, he addresses concerns such as the "unspeakable" in subalternized African American, U.S. Latino and Latina, Cuban, and South Asian literature; the rhetorical form of postcolonial narratives; and constructions of subalternized identities. In Trans-Americanity, Saldívar demonstrates and makes the case for Americanist critique based on a globalized study of the Américas.


“[An] ambitious undertaking. . . . We thus find on the pages of the book and in Saldívar's readings interesting couplings of trans-American texts, or texts that precisely in their juxtaposition, rather than standing on their own, testify to the process of trans-Americanity and show us an inkling of a larger literary system extending beyond the realm of any one nation-state, in particular the USA.” — Jelena Šesnic, European Journal of American Studies

“[T]his book… captures the visionary post-national mood that has imbued postcolonial studies with an infectious enthusiasm. Saldívar is a respected scholar in the field and this work argues for a transnational, indeed anti-national, approach to American studies…. It is a precarious, but invigorating, path to be following and we do not know where it leads.” — Latin American Review of Books

“Saldívar is one of the boldest and most important scholars in American Studies today. Like few others, he engages what Martí calls Nuestra América, and for that he should be congratulated. Trans-Americanity is well worth reading.” — Paul B. Wickelson, Rocky Mountain Review

“Saldivar is one of the more interesting contemporary scholars in the field of American Studies. . .. [A]n excitingly inventive book that is sure to generate new avenues of scholarly inquiry.” — Seth Horton, Journal of American Culture

Trans-Americanity is extraordinarily ambitious in its scope. . . .  By providing conceptual linkages between authors and texts that are rarely read or taught together, Saldívar provides a critical map for scholars seeking to transnationalize American and US Latina/o studies.” — Julie Minich, Journal of American Studies

Trans-Americanity’s seven chapters, useful preface, and experimental ending offer broad intellectual coverage of Latin America, South Asia, and the Americas from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.” — Karen Mary Davalos, American Quarterly

"Trans-Americanity is a magnificent, visionary book. I cannot think of another scholar working today who has helped to instantiate new fields and new lines of inquiry in the manner of José David Saldívar. He is an unusually generous and curious scholar, one who is perfectly willing to rethink earlier assumptions, appreciate the insights of his critics, and read broadly across disciplines. These strengths contribute to what I believe will be an extremely influential text, one that will be widely taught and carefully reviewed." — Mary Pat Brady, author of Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space

"Intent on discerning the common concerns of subaltern studies, global coloniality, and transmodernity, José David Saldívar examines persistent motifs and literary themes in the imaginative literature of Greater Mexico and South Asia. Individually and collectively, the minoritized writings that he discusses articulate new epistemological grounds for critiquing a transmodern world governed by global capitalism and new forms of coloniality. Saldívar advocates an 'Americanity' that opens up the idea of America to contexts well beyond the United States, Latin America, and the Western Hemisphere." — Donald E. Pease, author of The New American Exceptionalism


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

José David Saldívar is Professor of Comparative Literature and Chair and Director of the Undergraduate Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University. His books include Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies, as well as The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History and Criticism in the Borderlands: Studies in Chicano Literature, Culture, and Ideology (co-edited with Héctor Calderón), both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface: Americanity Otherwise ix

Acknowledgments xxix

1. Unsettling Race, Coloniality, and Caste in Anzaldúa's Borderlands/La Frontera, Martínez's Parrot in the Oven, and Roy's The God of Small Things 1

2. Migratory Locations: Subaltern Modernity and José Martí's Trans-American Cultural Criticism 31

3. Looking Awry at the War of 1898: Theodore Roosevelt versus Miguel Barnet and Esteban Montejo 57

4. In Search of the "Mexican Elvis": Border Matters, Americanity, and Post–State-centric Thinking 75

5. Making U.S. Democracy Surreal: Political Race, Transmodern Realism, and the Miner's Canary 90

6. The Outernational Origins of Chicano/a Literature: Paredes's Asian-Pacific Routes and Hinojosa's Cuban Casa de las Américas Roots 123

7. Transnationalism Contested: On Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street and Caramelo or Puro Cuento 152

Appendix: On the Borderlands of U.S. Empire: The Limitations of Geography, Ideology, and Discipline 183

Notes 213

References 239

Index 257
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5083-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5064-4
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