I work at the University of British Columbia in Canada, with principal interests in cultural and political theory and Latin American Studies. This blog encompasses:
- commentary on current events (such as protests against the Olympic Games, Alberto Fujimori's presidential ambitions, or the Menezes killing)
- reflections on cultural production (from Martin Parr's photography to Mike Leigh's television play Abigail's Party, Rolf Harris's portrait of the Queen, or Bob Dylan live)
- reading notes (for instance on Paul Gilroy's Postcolonial Melancholia, Giorgio Agamben's The Open, or Gilles Deleuze's Difference and Repetition)
- teaching notes (e.g. on María Luisa Bombal, the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, Juan Goytisolo, or an entire series on José María Arguedas)
- minimal meta-blogging
- and whatever else takes my fancy (though some things will not be discussed)
But the guiding thread is a series of reflections on hegemony and posthegemony.
There are many different uses of the term "hegemony," most of which are decidedly sloppy. Ernesto Laclau's is the most rigorous and fully theorized version of the concept. And I believe in taking issue with the best instantiation of a theory, rather than the worst. In Laclau's work it is also particularly clear that hegemony is a fundamentally populist concept; its wholesale adoption by Cultural Studies has helped ensure that that particular academic gesture towards radicalism remains an incorrigibly anti-political enterprise.
As for "posthegemony," I am publishing a book on the subject (due out from the University of Minnesota Press in late 2009), and some of the entries here are outcomes of the revision process. In that book, I bring together Gilles Deleuze's concept of affect, Pierre Bourdieu on habit, and Toni Negri's multitude, both to explain what comes (historically) after hegemony now that the concept is clearly inadequate, and (analytically) to displace hegemony by redescribing processes for which the term had previously seemed adequate.
A motto: "There is no hegemony and never has been" (cf. A Thousand Plateaus 4).
Throughout, Latin American case studies force further developments and refinements to posthegemony theory: I analyze Argentine Peronism, Peru's Sendero Luminoso, El Salvador's FMLN, and Chilean New Social Movements, with brief discussions of Columbus's first voyage and Venezuelan chavismo to top and tail the argument.
My other current research includes a project entitled "Projections" (with its own blog), concerned with the ways in which Latin America has figured in Hollywood and European cinema. Rather than lamenting the distance between stereotype and reality, I am interested here in the functions served by the innumerable projections of fantasized Latin Americas onto the silver screen.
I am also beginning a long-term project that will result in a history of the Latin American multitude, from Atlantic piracy in the sixteenth century and on to indigenous insurgencies in the eighteenth century and the discourse of independence in the early nineteenth. In stressing the multitude's historicity, I take issue with the notion that it is no more than the result of some post-Fordist teleology.
I hope that this site might become a gathering place for others with similar interests. I'm certainly open to possibilities of guest-blogging or other forms of collaboration.
Questions, suggestions, comments? Feel free to leave a comment or email.