Miguel Ángel Asturias and the aporia of postcolonial geography

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Title: Miguel Ángel Asturias and the aporia of postcolonial geography
Creators: Wainwright, Joel; Lund, Joshua
Issue Date: 2008-08-26
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Joel Wainwright and Joshua Lund, "Miguel Ángel Asturias and the aporia of postcolonial geography," Interventions 10, no. 2 (2008): 141-157. doi:10.1080/13698010802145036
DOI: 10.1080/13698010802145036
Abstract: In this essay we examine the relation between race and space in the Americas. We do so by offering a broadly postcolonial reading of the Mayanist writings of Miguel Ángel Asturias, the Guatemalan writer who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in literature. Specifically, we trace the ways in which his work problematizes the political relations between race and space and how, in turn, these relations problematize his own critical project. We argue that Asturias, in offering a trenchant critique of capitalist social relations and their articulation to practices of racism, fails to adequately address what we call the aporia of postcolonial geography. In so doing, he ends up reproducing the basic model of racialized territorialization that he attempts to attack. To analyse this problem we read the origins and transformations of his Mayanist work and its geographical tendencies over several decades. The major sources for our argument include the interdisciplinary field that we call 'Mayanism' and its relations to some of Asturias's central works, including, most prominently, Hombres de maíz (1949), along with El problema social del indio (1923), Leyendas de Guatemala (1930), Asturias's Nobel Banquet Speech, and interviews with the author. In stumbling against the aporia of postcolonial geography, Asturias's writing is emblematic of a broader relation between race and space that frequently rises up to derail potentially liberationist discourses and geographies.
ISSN: 1369-801X (print)
1469-929X (online)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/52139
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