Colonialism Past and Present

Reading and Writing about Colonial Latin America Today

Edited by Alvaro Felix Bolanos & Gustavo Verdesio

Subjects: Postcolonial Studies
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9780791451465, 308 pages, October 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451458, 308 pages, October 2001

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Table of contents

1. Colonialism Now and Then: Colonial Latin American Studies in the Light of the Predicament of Latin Americanism.
Gustavo Verdesio
2. On the issues of Academic Colonization and Responsibility when Reading and Writing about Colonial Latin America today.
Alvaro Lelix Bolanos
3. Pre-Columbian Pasts and Indian Presents in Mexican History.
Jose Rabasa
4. Confronting Imaginations: Towards an alternative reading of the Codice Mendoza.
Cora Lagos

5. Narrating Colonial Interventions: Dom Diego de Torres, Cacique of Turmeque in the New Kingdom of Granada.
Luis Fernando Restrepo
6. (Post-)colonial Sublime: Order and Indeterminacy in Eighteenth-century Spanish American Poetics and Aesthetics.
Antony Higgins
7. Gendered Crime and Punishment in New Spain: Inquisitional Cases Against Ilusas.
Stacey Schlau
8. Representing Gender, Deviance, and Heterogeneity in the Eighteenth-century Peruvian Newspaper Mercurio Peruano.
Mariselle Melendez
9. The Dragon and the Seashell: British Corsairs, Epic Poetry, and Creole Nation in Viceregal Peru.
Jose Antonio Mazzotti

11. History and Plunder in El Carnero: Writing, among Indians, a History of Spaniards and Euro-Americans in Colonial Spanish America.
Alvaro Felix Bolanos
10. The Literary Appropriation of the American Landscape: The Historical Novels of Abel Posse and Juan Jose Saei and Their Critics.
Gustavo Verdersio

Sara Castro-Klaren

Critiques lingering manifestations of colonialism in contemporary Latin American scholarship.


This collection of essays offers alternative readings of historical and literary texts produced during Latin America's colonial period. By considering the political and ideological implications of the texts' interpretation yesterday and today, it attempts to "decolonize" the field of Latin American studies and promote an ethical, interdisciplinary practice that does not falsify or appropriate knowledge produced by both the colonial subjects of the past and the oppressed subjects of the present.

Using recent developments in postcolonial theory, the contributors challenge traditional approaches to Hispanism. The colonial situation under which these texts were composed, with all its injustices and prejudices, still lingers, and most studies have consistently avoided the connection between this colonial legacy and the situation of disenfranchised groups today. Colonialism Past and Present challenges discursive strategies that celebrate only European cultural traits, dismiss non-European cultural legacies, and solidify constructions of national projects considered natural extensions of European civilization since independence from Spain.

Alvaro Félix Bolaños is Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Florida and the author of Barbarie y canibalismo en la retórica colonial: los indios pijaos de Fray Pedro Simón. Gustavo Verdesio is Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan and the author of La invención del Uruguay: La entrada del territorio y sus habitantes a la cultura occidental.


"A deep, thoughtful, diverse, rich confrontation with postcolonial theory and the way it affects contemporary scholarly exegesis and appropriations of New World colonial literatures. A major contribution to Latin American studies and postcolonial theory. " — Eduardo Mendieta, coeditor of Thinking from the Underside of History: Enrique Dussel's Philosophy of Liberation