Posted by: | March 9, 2009 | Comments Off on Transculturation

The readings for this week talk about the concept of transculturation.

Ortiz presents the word as an alternative to acculturation, which he argues implies an acquiring of culture. He says that the process undergone in Cuba and the Americas as a whole (to varying extents) is more like a mother and a father giving birth to a child, whereas the result is something original and unique. He calls the process a social phenomenon that has implications on every aspect of life in Cuba and somehow summarizes its history (“the real history of Cuba”) extremely well in just five pages. I thought his use of the appropriately Caribbean metaphor “a hurricane of culture” in reference to Europe coming to the America’s was fascinating: “A revolutionary upheaval shook the Indian peoples of Cuba…” It was an interesting excerpt from the Cuban Counterpoint and is extremely relevant to everything we’ve been talking about in class. There are problems in that it seems to oversimplify, as Millington touches on. I feel like if Ortiz’s “real history” were made any more analytical or in depth his idea of transculturation would become much more complicated. I noticed that automatic spell-check doesn’t like the word either.

Millington seeks to rethink Ortiz idea, much like Peter Wade with mestizaje. He draws out some problems with Ortiz argument and presentation and applies the concept to the modern world, where we know that cultures aren’t Moms and Dads and globalization and some other -izations increasingly blur the lines between seemingly everything.

Polar writes about ‘indigenista’ literature and the need to understand how interpreting something in one context that is made in another is problematic. He never actually uses the world transculturation in the first part, but he invokes the concept subconsciously throughout. Even though I’m not familiar with indigenismo I thought it was interesting how he shows that “indigenista is not indigenous.” Basically, he explains, indigenismo is a more Western-oriented style that resignifies aspects of indigenous culture.

All the readings this week were great; maybe they’re just starting to make more sense, though.


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