Den haltande kontinenten? Autenticitet och ekonomisk frihet hos José Martí.

Project: Dissertation

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Humanities
  • Cultural Studies

Keywords

  • colonialism, José Martí, Cuba, Spanish America, coloniality, postcolonial theory

Description

This thesis examines the strategies developed by José Martí for a prosperous Spanish American future in the end of the 19th century. In 1875, which is the starting point of the thesis, most nations in Spanish America had freed themselves from colonial rule and now stood before the challenge of finding a beneficial place within the international division of labour. Martí observed that centuries of colonial oppression had left his continent weak and backward, and watched as it painfully “limped” (the word used in Martí’s first chronicle to describe the colonized Cuba) its way into the modern capitalist era. As a journalist and a revolutionary, Martí simultaneously commented on, and actively influenced, the course of Spanish American history. This thesis makes use of this “dual role” of his, by adopting a dialectical approach, which focuses on Martís journalistic writings over time. Martí’s chronicles – a literary genre that he helped develop - are read as a dialogue with an ever-changing reality, and as such, gives the reader vital clues not only to Martís thought, but also to a deeper understanding of post (and neo) colonial Spanish America. Through a study of Martí’s chronicles in Spanish American newspapers (mainly Revista Universal, La América and La Nación), divided into three periods between 1875-1878, 1881-1887 and 1889-1894, the dissertation identifies Martí’s concept of authenticity as the principle around which he developed his strategies for a prosperous Spanish America; both within what Partha Chatterjee calls the “material” sphere (economy and politics) and the “spiritual” sphere (identity and culture). Defining what was authentic for postcolonial Spanish America was, nevertheless, simultaneously an act of creation, (and, to borrow a term from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, at the same time a foreclosure of the indigenous population). Creoles, like Martí, did not wish for a return to origins in their search for continental identity. The course of indigenous history had forever been disrupted and corrupted and a “new” Spanish American had to be imagined. Nevertheless, unlike many of his contemporaries, Martí did not see an imitation of Western European or Northern American culture or economy as a solution. Rather, elements from the different peoples inhabiting Spanish America had to be combined in a mestizaje that would grant the continent its authenticity and uniqueness in relation to its old motherland and, ultimately, to its newest and perhaps most dangerous adversary; the United States. By inverting the hierarchical structure created through coloniality and upgrading “authentic” values, Martí sought to show that the Spanish American continent was not, in fact, limping, but rather, a continent that in the “strength of a hundred razes” held the key to a bright future.

Layman's description

This thesis examines the strategies developed by José Martí for a prosperous Spanish American future in the end of the 19th century. In 1875, which is the starting point of the thesis, most nations in Spanish America had freed themselves from colonial rule and now stood before the challenge of finding a beneficial place within the international division of labour. Martí observed that centuries of colonial oppression had left his continent weak and backward, and watched as it painfully “limped” (the word used in Martí’s first chronicle to describe the colonized Cuba) its way into the modern capitalist era. As a journalist and a revolutionary, Martí simultaneously commented on, and actively influenced, the course of Spanish American history. This thesis makes use of this “dual role” of his, by adopting a dialectical approach, which focuses on Martís journalistic writings over time. Martí’s chronicles – a literary genre that he helped develop - are read as a dialogue with an ever-changing reality, and as such, gives the reader vital clues not only to Martís thought, but also to a deeper understanding of post (and neo) colonial Spanish America. Through a study of Martí’s chronicles in Spanish American newspapers (mainly Revista Universal, La América and La Nación), divided into three periods between 1875-1878, 1881-1887 and 1889-1894, the dissertation identifies Martí’s concept of authenticity as the principle around which he developed his strategies for a prosperous Spanish America; both within what Partha Chatterjee calls the “material” sphere (economy and politics) and the “spiritual” sphere (identity and culture). Defining what was authentic for postcolonial Spanish America was, nevertheless, simultaneously an act of creation, (and, to borrow a term from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, at the same time a foreclosure of the indigenous population). Creoles, like Martí, did not wish for a return to origins in their search for continental identity. The course of indigenous history had forever been disrupted and corrupted and a “new” Spanish American had to be imagined. Nevertheless, unlike many of his contemporaries, Martí did not see an imitation of Western European or Northern American culture or economy as a solution. Rather, elements from the different peoples inhabiting Spanish America had to be combined in a mestizaje that would grant the continent its authenticity and uniqueness in relation to its old motherland and, ultimately, to its newest and perhaps most dangerous adversary; the United States. By inverting the hierarchical structure created through coloniality and upgrading “authentic” values, Martí sought to show that the Spanish American continent was not, in fact, limping, but rather, a continent that in the “strength of a hundred razes” held the key to a bright future.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date2008/09/012016/12/17

Participants

  • Cappi, Anna (PI)