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Primary Texts and Key Issues: The Politics of Nature in Latin American Culture (MT 2020)

Primary texts are listed for each seminar. You will be expected to have studied all primary texts set for each seminar, together with some of the secondary reading suggested in the bibliographies. Links are given in the bibliographies to online articles, and some additional material is available as PDFs to download from Moodle.

Some key issues relating to each seminar are identified – you may wish to focus on one or more of these in a seminar paper or an essay.

Seminar 1: Romanticism: Reinventing América as Nature  (Carlos Fonseca)

Primary texts

  • Excerpts from Von Humboldt’s Personal Narrative of a Journey
  • Selected poems from José María Heredia
  • Excerpts from Andrés Bello’s Silva a la agricultura de la zona tórrida

Key issues

  • Sublime aesthetics
  • Nature and politics
  • Critique of Enlightenment ideals
  • Nature/culture and nature/history dichotomies
  • Nature as event versus nature as peaceful garden
  • The legacy of the natural history paradigm

Required Readings

  • W.J.T. Mitchell, Landscape and Power (University of Chicago Press), Introductory Chapter “Imperial Landscape”
  • Graciela Montaldo, “La Naturaleza bajo sospecha,” in Gabriela Nouzeilles ed, La naturaleza en disputa (Buenos Aires, Paidos, 2002).
  • JB Harley, “Maps, Knowledge, Power” in Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels, The Iconography of Landscape (Cambridge UP, 1989).
  • Luis Costa Lima, “In the Backlands of Hidden Mimesis,” Chapter 4 in Control of the Imaginary (University of Minnesota Press, 1988)
  • Jens Anderman, Part 2 “Maps” in The Optic of the State (University of Pittsburgh press, 2007)

Bibliography
 

Seminar 2: Foundational Landscapes: Nation and Nature (Maite Conde) 

Primary texts

  • Excerpts from Sarmiento’s Facundo
  • Excerpts from Da Cunha’s Os Sertões

Key issues

  • Landscape and power
  • Nation-building projects
  • Frontiers
  • The state and its cartographies
  • Nature and slow violence

Bibliography
 

Seminar 3: Nature and Indigenous Culture in Poetry and Film (Joanna Page)

Primary texts

  • El botón de nácar (film, dir. Patricio Guzmán, Chile)
  • El abrazo de la serpiente (film, dir. Ciro Guerra, Colombia)
  • Poetry of the Earth: Trilingual Mapuche Anthology (ed. Jaime Luis Huenún Villa, 2014)

Key issues

  • Modernity and the rationalization of nature
  • Representing relational ontologies and indigenous perspectives on nature
  • Decoloniality and interculturalism
  • Science and indigenous knowledge
  • Contemporary conflicts over land use
  • Relationships between social, cultural, and environmental crisis

Bibliography
 

Seminar 4: Postcolonial and Posthuman Bestiaries and Herbaria (Joanna Page)

Primary texts

  • Walmor Corrêa (Brazil): Unheimlich, imaginário popular brasileiro, A expedição brasileira de Thomas Ender reconsiderada, Biblioteca dos enganos
  • Alberto Baraya (Colombia): Herbario de plantas artificiales and La fábula de los pájaros
  • Claudio Romo (Chile), Bestiario: Animales reales fantásticos (with Juan Nicolás Padrón) and El álbum de la flora imprudente

Key issues

  • Postcolonial reworkings of colonial collections, cabinets of curiosities, European naturalists’ reports, bestiaries and herbaria
  • Invented and fantastical expeditions
  • Hybrid ontologies and plural ecologies
  • Scientific and artistic constructions of nature
  • Cryptozoology, myths, and monsters
  • The recovery of popular and indigenous legends

Bibliography
 

Seminar 5: Catastrophic Aftershocks: Nature, Disaster and Modernity (Carlos Fonseca)

Primary texts

  • Cesar Aira’s Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero
  • Selection of Ana Mendieta’s earth works
  • Excerpts from Lina Meruane’s Viajes virales

Key issues

  • Nature and catastrophe
  • Critiques of progressivism
  • Debates concerning the Anthropocene
  • Body and nature
  • Epidemics, AIDS, biopolitics

Bibliography

 

Seminar 6: Bioart and Ecoart: Interspecies Co-Creativity and Matters of Care (Joanna Page)

Prinary texts

  • Ana Laura Cantera (Argentina): Flujos en retornoCartografías invisibles (Life Guardian), Utópicas reconstituciones
  • Interspecifics Collective (Mexico): Micro-RhythmsSpeculative Communications
  • Kuai Shen (Ecuador/Germany): ThermotaxisOh!m1gasYupana emergente
  • Gilberto Esparza (Mexico): Plantas nómadas, Plantas autofotosintéticas
  • Ivan Henriques (Brazil/Netherlands): Jurema Action Plant

Key Issues

  • Relationships between science, technology, and ecology
  • Decolonizing nature
  • Nonhuman agency and performativity
  • Interspecies communication and co-creativity
  • Art, curation, and matters of care

Bibliography