Erecting and Erasing Boundaries: Can We Combine the “Indo” and the “Afro” in Latin American Studies?

Barbara Weinstein


One of the ongoing tensions in the field of Latin American history is the relationship between Spanish America and Portuguese America, and to what extent they together constitute a coherent object of study called Latin America. Brazilianists never tire of bemoaning the hegemony of the Mexicanists (particularly in the field of history) and the reluctance of most Spanish Americanists to fully integrate Brazil into their courses and transnational frameworks. And it's not just an issue for historians. I'll never forget that chilling moment when a well-meaning but ingenuous graduate student doing a Ph.D. in Latin American literature asked me if Brazil had produced a literary corpus worth reading. It was genuinely horrifying, if not entirely surprising, to learn that this "Latin Americanist" had never even heard of Machado de Assis, and had surely not read a single one of his novels.

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