MLA2020: Global South panel

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    Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra

    248 – Race, Indigeneity, and Articulations of Sovereignty across the Global South

    Friday, 10 January 2020 | 10:15 AM – 11:30 AM | WSCC – Skagit 4

    Presiding: Magali Armillas-Tiseyra, Penn State U, University Park

    • “Can the Subaltern Blush? Shame and the Question of Identity in Slave Narratives by Jacobs and Manzano,” David Luis-Brown, Claremont Graduate U

    The question of how to read the emotions of slaves was crucial to slaveholder rule in both colonies like Cuba and republics like the United States. Were slaves by nature content, or were they inclined to express rage, the fuel for insurrections, as in Haiti? Slaveholder paternalism held that slaves—whom whites thought epitomized “the imagined emotional turmoil of subaltern groups” to quote Ana Peluffo in a different context, required the guidance of whites so the social ties that shame must uphold would not unravel. In a variation on Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” one might ask, can the subaltern blush, or feel shame? The slaveholders’ answer was an unequivocal no: ideologies of race precluded viewing the enslaved as caring, ethical subjects.

    The enslaved themselves contested slaveholder paternalism on the terrain of shame. Linda repeatedly refers to what she calls “my shame” because of Dr. Flint’s incessant sexual advances. Manzano experiences shame when he compares the harsh treatment that he endures with the relatively benign treatment of other slaves. The writings of Jacobs and Manzano show that slaves experience shame when their survival tactics clash with the moral standards of their slave peers and whites. But shame is not simply a negative judgment of the self. As Eve Sedgwick has argued, shame “attaches to and sharpens the sense of what one is, broaching “the question of identity.” Indeed, Jacobs and Manzano detail unexpected uses of shame by slaves, repurposing it to ameliorate their condition in life and indict slavery.


    • “Becoming Indigenous in Haiti: Land and Labor in Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones,” Sara Thomas, U of Wisconsin, Madison

    In this paper I draw together Edwidge Danticat’s writing about the pre-colonial Taíno chieftess and storyteller, Anacaona in order to situate Danticat’s representation of Anacaona within the history of indigenous rhetoric in Haiti (from Dessalines’ Constitution to La Revue Indigene). Through analysis of various texts and historical trends, I show how Danticat addresses various historical silences of the twentieth-century (like the Massacre of 1937 and various US occupations) and the ongoing silencing of indigenous presence in the Caribbean, such as the narrative of decimation of the Taíno. I argue that Danticat uses an ante-colonial mythos towards anti- colonial storytelling in order to build collective memories for Haitian women, survivors of anti-Black violence, and Haitians in the diaspora by writing Anacaona onto the land of Haiti. Ultimately, I seek to understand how Danticat’s Anacaona fits within the dominant discourse of diaspora writing, and I seek to show how Anacaona complicates the binaries of indigeneity/diaspora and nation/diaspora.


    • “Global Asias’ Narratives and the Inter-Asian Racialization of Diasporic Filipina Entertainers and Hostesses in Japan,” Alden Sajor Marte-Wood, Rice U

    In the post-Marcos Philippines, the masculinized bagong bayani (new heroes) nationalist narrative describes the “heroic sacrifice” of millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) toiling abroad in the world’s most expansive labor diaspora. Initially coined by President Cory Aquino in 1988, the bagong bayani nationalist narrative has subsequently been defined across multiple generic registers. Explicitly locating the “heroic” performance of their racialized overseas labor as an extension of nationalist filial piety, the bagong bayani narrative understands the transnationality of OFWs as inherently grounded in the locality of the Filipino nation—work performed elsewhere is always done for the Philippines. The inherently gendered production of the bagong bayani narrative symptomatically occludes the experiences of Filipina entertainers, hostesses, and sex workers working in Japan and the nativist ostracism they face there. This paper examines the formation of an explicitly feminized “Global Asias” counternarrative to the bagong bayani story, which renders visible the various modes of gendered subjugation and inter-Asian racialization that subtend this overseas Filipina reproductive labor. I demonstrate how this emerging counternarrative is “written” across the literary fiction of F. Sionil Jose, Eric Gamalinda, and Rey Ventura; the Filipino films Chassis and Maricris Sioson: Japayuki; and the popular Japanese television drama Filipina o Aishita Otokotachi.


    • “The Beauty of a Trembling World: Glissant, Chamoiseau, and the Poetics of Vulnerability,” Mara de Gennaro, Columbia U

    “Any one of us can, in the wake of a fire, a tornado, a tectonic fury, a job loss, be forced to leave home and ask for asylum,” Patrick Chamoiseau writes in Migrant Brothers, his poetic appeal for “a global politics of hospitality that states once and for all, in the name of all, for all, that in no place in this world, for whatever reason, will there be such a thing as a foreigner.” I want to consider Chamoiseau’s vision of hospitality in terms of his recent elaborations of what Glissant called “the thought of trembling” and its close ties to the revisionist methods of literary and cultural comparison that Glissant and Chamoiseau have advanced. Through self-reflexive, inconclusive, and even anxious practices of comparison that approach the world as an expanse of dynamic relations exceeding the comprehensive mastery of any one speaker, culture, state, or empire, Glissant and Chamoiseau revalue the notion of “world totality” (Chamoiseau’s term) by reconfiguring it through a poetics of shared vulnerability. For there to be no such thing as a foreigner in any place in the world, we must also remember ourselves as foreigners, all of us, to the totality of the world that is both home and necessarily escapes our comprehension of home.

    This topic was also posted in: 2020 MLA Convention.
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