All of this week’s readings have an “action” type feeling to them, that they contribute to a higher calling and whoever wrote them felt as if they specifically were in a position to help or educate others in some way. The textbook mentioned that the literature of post-emancipation represents both liberalism and scientific racism of the 19th century.
Unfortunately I didn’t really understand Nina Rodrigues’ “The Fetishist Anamism of the Bahian Blacks,” and I didn’t quite see the point of the Santa Rita de Casia y San Lázaro Manifesto. So I’ll comment on those in a limited manner, based on what I did understand.
From the perspective of someone living in a generally liberal society looking back on historical moments, I found that all these works fell in either “liberal” or “could be liberal” or “scientific racism” categories. Also, I identified many instances of the “affect” theme that Jon mentioned in the video lecture throughout the readings, and I’d like to analyse that too.
I think the point of Nina Rodrigues’ text was to understand the different religious customs of Afro-Brazilians. He interestingly pointed out that the “African element” of their culture had been “diluted” in the diverse environment of Brazil, and that the only pure thing left was “the feeling that animates beliefs.” Take that as you will, here the idea of “feeling” or “affect” comes up. Is Nina Rodrigues using the affect argument to deny these people access to equal, unemotional rights? Or to define specific rights that would suit them? I think this work fits into the “scientific racism” category.
I was surprised at how liberal the Political Program of the Partido Independiente de Color was! Some of what they call for is even controversial today, like the free university idea. I think this fits into the “liberal” category. Words like “love” and “worthy” are used to address the nation and its citizens, respectively. Did this “affect” aspect affect how rights and responsibilities are defined within the nation, with all of its diversity?
The only thing I managed to analyse from the Santa Rita de Casia y San Lázaro Manifesto is that death symbolism was used a lot in the wake of a massacre (context given by the textbook). Liberal notions of this text are paired with imagery of death: “Death is Nature’s justice,” and mentions of everyone being equal since everyone is born to die. Also interesting is the amount of times they declare they are “true Christians.” Is this to appeal to whoever they are writing to? This plays on the cultural/feelings/affect argument I believe. Elites may have a better impression of them if they share spiritual values.
Brush Strokes by Echenique is almost explicitly liberal. She critiques affect in favour of women’s rights and emancipation. She clearly rejects tradition, stating that “the women of today are not the women of the past.” And she defines rights and emancipation in the context of women: they must be more philosophical.
In Josefina Pelliza de Sagasta’s piece, she takes the opposite stance and fights for tradition, mostly on the basis of “affect” spirituality. This immediately seems illiberal, as she calls for tradition and not progress, but interestingly her support for women (at least women in her own class) is quite uplifting and inspirational. She clearly uses the idea of “affect” as she praises womanhood through words like “love” and “exalted.” Also her use of empowering words like “queens” and “strong” could be seen as catering to the individual.
One last thing: I feel like these readings especially pointed out some flaws of liberalism (building off the discussion my section got into on Tuesday!). Can liberalism lead to the loss of individuality while trying to protect the concept of the individual? All for the “greater good” of society? I think this especially shows in Echenique’s writing, she almost calls for the erasure of female feeling in favour of emancipation. Just a thought!