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Commodities, Uprisings, Connectors, Cities, Networks: Thinking transitions in turn of the century Latin America

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Organizer: Javier Uriarte

Co-Organizer: Fernando Degiovanni

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The decades between 1870 and 1930 are Latin America’s paradigmatic transitional period. The continent witnessed the complex transformation of pastoral and rural societies into modernized and market-oriented states with strong agroexport sectors. Oligarchic rule progressively gave way to initial forms of representative democracy and activism by groups who fought against established powers. Diverse literary and artistic currents expressed the contradictions of the continent’s incorporation to print capitalism and metropolitan aesthetic modernity. Latin America’s increased participation in transnational economic and cultural networks is what defines the complex changes occurring in these decades.
This seminar explores how the circulation of goods, people and ideas permeated every aspect of the continent’s cultural production at the turn of the century. Our interest is not only to understand how literature and the arts represented the unprecedented penetration of global capital in the continent, but also explore the ways in which rapidly transforming technological and labor conditions contributed to forging new intellectual networks, creating original genres and discourses, and reimagining a material and symbolic world. We are particularly interested in how the experience of capitalism produced an array of new archives that expose primitive accumulation, transnational crossings, and a new technological and material reality in diverse geographies and a variety of discursive supports.

Possible topics:
Commodities: In dialogue with Ericka Beckman’s Capital Fictions, we explore new modes of writing generated by the aforementioned boom of commodities. How are the echoes of this “boom and bust” logic perceived in literature? Commodities to be studied include: sugar, rubber, saltpeter and guano, coffee, bananas, yerba.
Networks: Transnational groups that supported projects of intellectual solidarity at a hemispheric level, addressing demands for political, economic, gender and ethnic equality. For example, latinoamericanism, cosmopolitanism, chinoiseries, diasporas, feminism, syncretism
Uprisings: We explore the role that non-elite intellectuals and the popular public sphere played in the development of political and cultural forces against land grabbing or exploitative working coconditions both in urban and rural areas. Suggested topics: anarchism, indigenismo, abolitionism, and rural insurgencies
Connectors: How did cultural producers deal with experiences and forms of knowledge, as well as symbolic and material exchanges, redefined by the circulation of global capital? Experiences and forms of circulation to be studied include money, bodies, travel, war, science, and exhibits.
Cities: How were “border” or remote urban centers, and their cultural history and production, reshaped by the “boom and bust” cycles, immigration, and war? Here the focus will be on relatively less studied cities such as Iquique, Manaus, Ciudad Juárez, and San Juan. 

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