Category Archives: Featured Faculty

The CLACS Featured Faculty series highlights one member of our Faculty or Affiliated Faculty members and the new projects s/he is working on.

Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (3)

by Santiago Barcaza S.

When the Nobel Prize was given to Beckett, the Swedish Academy considered the set of its texts in English and French as a single work and at the award ceremony, its dedication to “one man, two languages ​​and a third nation” [ Ireland]”.

Beckett is the self-translator who has received more attention and more studies have been done since he was the first to arouse interest in self-translation as a subject of study (Cohn, 1961). The anecdote is the following: the impossibility of finding an English publisher for his texts, considered at the time as untranslatable, caused the author to translate into French his work Murphy, written in English and published in 1938. From 1946, Beckett writes only in French, something that is quite difficult for him, and he translates himself into English. The recognition comes in 1953, year of the appearance of En attendant Godot and Trilogie. The self-translation into English of the first, Waiting for Godot, appears a year later, in 1954, when it is reconciled with the English language. From that moment on, he continues writing in both languages ​​and exchanging the directions of the self-translation.

By the way, to the question, why self-translate? It is not difficult to understand the eagerness of authors like Tagore or Beckett to reach more readers, to ambition as soon as possible a place in the history of universal literature. But there is also another literature. There is a literature that comes from the bosom of cultures that resist extinction, languages ​​that do not give ground to the languages ​​of the colonizers.

odi gonzales
The poet Odi Gonzales

I held a conversation with Odi Gonzales (Cuzco, 1961), poet, translator, self-translator, professor and researcher at NYU, where among other topics we spoke about the Quechua language and its resistance. Here are some fragments of that conversation:

“In a language in danger of extinction, the passage of time will always generate profits and losses. For example, the advent of technological devices and the Internet allow you to communicate with monolingual children from a rural school in the Andes and record the conversation; or make documentaries, movies, photography, etcetera. These records are documents that will not be deleted, they will survive the speakers themselves. That is a gain. But at the same time, these media, with hegemony in Castilian or English, are undermining the speech of monolinguals or bilinguals, who tend to use more the acquired language, to incorporate neologisms into their lexicon”.

And with regard to the orality of the Quechua language, he tells us:

“For example, in the Quechua oral stories, there is no omniscient narrator, since that would make the story implausible: the narrator can not be in two places at once, or know what his characters think. On the other hand, in writing [in the dominant language], the omniscient narrator is crucial, indispensable. Likewise, we believed that Joyce had invented the interior monologue in Ulysses, that paradigm of the modern novel. But the truth is that internal monologue is common practice of oral languages. In Quechua, it is configured exclusively with the pronoun us (ñoqayku), which involves the narrator and his immediate surroundings. The poet speaks for himself and for his own, not for others. The great difference between the interior monologue of a foxs tale and that of Ulysses, is the extension. By its nature, the inner monologue of an oral story is short, precise and concrete, composed only a sentence or two. Instead, Bloom’s inner monologue is a 42-page stream”.

(You can check the complete interview in Spanish here)

With Quechua, Odi talks to us about a kind of oraliture (?). The translations come and go, from the first to the second language and vice versa, and in the turns the words are polished together like stones. As explained by Odi, oral literature as an artistic expression of the Andean cosmovision, marks a cultural continuity between what has been and what it is today. Authors who live in communities and in cities, who permanently travel the path between both spaces. Making their lives territory of coexistence and conflict: between tradition and modernity, between the community and the individual, between the original language and the imposed language. But at the same time, translating, or rather self-translating, the complex message that is transmitted from the oral to the written, and vice versa. Because after all, how do you create a literature that is not written?

Map and territory. A fictitious and real construction at the same time, by authors descendants of peoples and subjugated cultures. A fiction that delimits a territory with diffuse borders, with authors whose mother tongue is the dominant one, but who possess the strength to fulfill the mission of not turning their back on their ancestors.

In the next installment, we will approach the work of Mapuche poets, from the Kenyan Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and we will follow the dialogue with Rodrigo Rojas.

Advertisements

CLACS Faculty Pamela Calla Wins Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is with great honor that we share with the #CLACSatNYU community that our faculty member Pamela Calla recently won the Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award for excellence in teaching, leadership, social justice advocacy, and community building.

Professor Calla is a distinguished anthropologist, cherished member of the #CLACSatNYU community, and a mentor to many of our students. She grew up in a mining town in southern Bolivia. Her understanding and construction of collaborative political, pedagogical and research approaches dealing with difference and inequality were shaped by this life experience.

Before coming to CLACS at NYU, she was the co-founder and director of the Bolivian Observatory on Racism. This observatory had the mandate of research, capacity-building, and grassroots action against current manifestations of racism. She was later co-founder and co-coordinator of the “Red de Investigación Acción Anti Racista en las Américas,” an initiative which linked organizations with similar mandates across the Americas, as well as focused on capacity-building and comparative-action research in the creation of pertinent anti-racist strategies.

Professor Calla’s research has also focused on indigenous women in social movements in Latin America. Black feminism’s intersectional analysis and Chicana feminism’s border analysis in the U.S. became crucial to her action-research with indigenous women in Bolivia. This experience led to the co-creation, alongside colleagues and students, of a working group on Feminist Constellations and Intercultural Paradigms at CLACS. She is now writing a book, “Indigenous women and the hegemony of a cultural revolution in Bolivia.”

We are honored to have Professor Pamela Calla at #CLACSatNYU and celebrate her achievements and the positive impact she continues to have among our students.

¡Felicidades profesora!

Aquarius by Kleber Mendonça Filho, or what should have been Brazil’s Oscar nominee

ladjaneBy Ian Merkel, PhD Candidate, History and French Studies, New York University

The Brazilian film Aquarius, released internationally last October, has been celebrated  by critics worldwide after its standing ovation at Cannes. On the front cover of the September edition of the French magazine Cahiers du Cinema, Aquarius was applauded as “a marvelous and surprising act of portraiture”[1] and considered “triumphant, a one-woman show of strength, sensuality and indomitable staying power”[2]. This very Brazilian film managed to do something that Brazilian film historically has often failed to do: to present stories, characters, scenarios, and aesthetics that a more global audience can identify with. In the United States, Aquarius deserves our special attention after having been deprived, by the Brazilian government, of the possibility of competing for an Oscar.[3] But while almost all critics, Brazilian and international, mention the presence of the protagonist Clara (Sônia Braga)’s maid Ladjane (Zoraide Coleto), few[4] analyze the relationship between them. In this article, we propose to demonstrate the very centrality of this question, as well as a broader critique of upper middle class privilege[5], within Mendonça Filho’s film.

International critics, to a large extent, have failed to address this question as they did for Mendonça Filho’s previous film, Neighboring Sounds (O Som Ao Redor), where themes of labor relations and the legacy of slavery were much more central.[6]  This may be because Brazil’s institution of domestic labor is unfamiliar to them and the film, unlike Domésticas (2001), and the more recent Casa Grande (2014) and Que Horas Ela Volta (2015), does not deal with it directly.  For most Brazilians critics, the institution of domestic labor is perhaps so banal, so omnipresent not simply in the film but in their daily lives, that it fails to garner special attention. These critics have reason to focus their energies on the larger politics of the film, particularly in the aftermath of the recent impeachment, considered by many to be a coup d’état.[7] But critics should also remember that Clara, the very protagonist of the film, is not without her own ambiguities. Although she resisted the military dictatorship[8]— and we imagine her to be a music critic and writer critical of inequalities on so many fronts– Clara proves incapable of criticizing the very institution of domestic labor that she depends upon in her daily life.

Identifying Clara as “good” and the real estate speculators as “evil” misses one of the essential takeaways of the film: namely, that all of us, to varying degrees, are caught up in a social and economic system that is exploitative, segregationist, and, although not overtly, racist.  This exploitation most often takes place at a distance. We know that the clothes on our backs are made by slave labor in Asia; the cellphones in our hands, with materials mined in precarious conditions in Africa and the Middle East; the produce we consume, cultivated either by poorly paid and mistreated labor, by multinationals that are destroying our planet (Brazil being a poignant example), or by both. We choose, however, not to remember these things—in psychology, to repress them— so that we can live our daily lives.

In the case of the Brazilian upper-middle classes, such daily exploitation is often much more intimate. In Aquarius, without cheap domestic labor, who would wash Clara’s clothes, cook her meals, clean her home, and allow her, as a woman, to have been able to pursue her aspirations as a writer? Clara, by most standards, is not only a good, but an excellent employer. Nonetheless, she is still the beneficiary of extreme inequality that makes it feasible (and in her mind necessary) to have someone working at her personal service, day in and day out.

Clara, like her friends, is conscious of this. Mid-way through the film, in the midst of growing tensions with her landlord, Clara dreams of an employee (a black woman) rummaging through and stealing her jewelry before her own eyes. The real thief throughout the film is the real estate company that owns her building. The company pressures Clara to leave her apartment and, when persuasion fails, make her life there a living hell. But in Clara’s dreams, her feelings of vulnerability are symbolized by a much more petty form of theft by an employee in her own home. Her friend Fátima (Paula de Renor), when looking over a family album of photographs in which she comes across an old employee, says quite nonchalantly, “we exploit them, they sometimes steal from us”. The naturality with which Fátima expresses this fact assumes a series of unspeakable truths: the recognition of employee underpayment, the expectation that employees will periodically steal, and the assumption of a given’s employee’s ability to be replaced when this inevitably happens.

Clara’s confrontation with Diego (Humberto Carrão), the grandson of the real estate mogul who is actively working to disappropriate Clara from her apartment, reveals director Kleber Mendonça’s not-so-stereotypical exploration of the upper-middle class existence of people like Clara. While certain critics regret Kleber Mendonça’s stereotyping of the young Brazilian businessman as a typical coxinha[9], Diego’s response to Clara’s provocations are indeed quite profound. Clara’s invective against Diego as an inheritor of family fortune, disguised in the language of “business” that his training in the U.S. allows him to use, certainly finds echo among the Brazilian left. But Diego’s bitingly sarcastic response to Clara, “you obviously had it tough,” gesturing toward Clara’s maid Ladjane who accompanied their argument, is equally powerful. Clara’s monopoly on morality against the exploitative capitalist crumbles in the face of her own reality.

After watching Aquarius, we obviously gain sympathy for certain characters and kinds of personalities more than others. Clearly, Mendonça Filho’s film is situated to the left of the political spectrum. But the film’s strength is to nuance our preconceived notions of good and evil. Clara, even as a woman on the left, a cultivated feminist who represents, to a large degree, progressive forces within Brazil, is still dependent on the exploitation of labor. In the United States, we have our own systems of exploitation laborer that that prop up middle class existence. In Brazil, however, such exploitation is often much more intimate, occurring within the confines of ones own home.

In recent years, the Worker’s Party government has brought domestic laborers out of the shadows and officially into the Brazilian workforce. Now, these workers are ensured, at least on paper, basic standards such as paid overtime, vacation, and employer contributions to social security. Many middle class people complain of the rising costs of having full time maids, and it may be the case that the current economic crisis forces even more of them to go from having someone work for them everyday to only once or twice a week. Nonetheless, domestic labor, as so many other employer-employee relationships in condominiums, houses, and businesses, remain the norm in Brazil. It is so utterly banal that even the left-wing critics of Aquarius are blind to it.

Mendonça Filho’s film is incredibly nostalgic for Brazilian cities in the 1980s and 1990s. His memory of a much safer, more humane Recife, less affected by real estate speculation and violence, may be accurate. However, it must not be forgotten that in those years, employees like Ladjane were considered as much appliances as they were as people. This, of course, is inseparable from the long history of slavery. According to architect, Lúcio Costa, “The Brazilian machine of housing, from the time of colony to Empire, depended on this mixture of beast and person that was a slave… he is what made the house function: there was a Negro for everything—from the little Negros always at hand for messages to the Old Negro nanny. The Negro was plumbing; he was running water in the bedroom, warm and cold; he was the light-switch and the doorbell; he sealed leaks and lifted heavy windowpanes; he was the washing machine and fanned better than a fan itself. Even after the abolition of slavery, the bonds of dependence and the comforts of patriarchal life […] persisted. During the first Republican period, the low cost of domestic labor continued to allow the bourgeoisie the maintain, without officially having slaves, the easy life of the previous period.”[10]

Aquarius, surely, may have its plot centered on Clara’s disappropriation. But it is much more than about the plight of the middle classes caused by real estate speculation. It is, in many ways, about the necessarily exploitative lifestyle of the middle classes, and the Brazilian middle classes in particular—even when they think of themselves as leftists. Aquarius will surely go down as a Brazilian and international classic. Aesthetically, its value is already recognized, as are Sônia Braga’s performance and the excellent soundtrack. But if Aquarius is to have a more profound impact politically, critics and viewers alike would do well to consider the exploitative nature not only of the real estate industry[11], but of people like me, you, and Clara.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/movies/aquarius-review.html

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/sonia-braga-makes-a-triumphant-return-to-the-screen-in-aquarius/2016/10/20/0966195e-948d-11e6-bb29-bf2701dbe0a3_story.html

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/world/americas/brazilian-politics-smother-a-films-oscar-ambitions.html

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/17/aquarius-review-rich-and-mysterious-brazilian-story-of-societal-disintegration

[5] revistacinetica.com.br/nova/o-pais-do-cinismo/

[6] http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/neighboring-sounds-2013

[7]http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/24/glenn_greenwald_brazils_democracy_is_under
http://nacla.org/news/2016/09/07/brazil-impeachment-president-and-future-country
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/03/dilma-rousseff-pt-coup-golpe-petrobras-lavajato/

[8] http://www.cartacapital.com.br/cultura/aquarius-e-o-dever-da-resistencia

[9] http://g1.globo.com/pop-arte/cinema/noticia/2016/09/aquarius-faz-reflexao-poderosa-mas-tem-vilao-simplista-g1-ja-viu.html

http://cultura.estadao.com.br/blogs/estado-da-arte/aquarius-e-a-regressao-do-cinema-politico/

[10] “A máquina brasileira de morar, ao tempo da colônia e do império, dependia dessa mistura de coisas, de bicho e de gente, que era o escravo. Se os casarões remanescentes do tempo antigo parecem inabitáveis devido ao desconforto, é porque o negro está ausente. Era ele que fazia a casa funcionar: havia negro para tudo – desde negrinhos sempre à mão para recados, até negra velha, babá. O negro era esgoto; era água corrente no quarto, quente e fria; era interruptor de luz e botão de campainha; o negro tapava goteira e subia vidraça pesada; era lavador automático, abanava que nem ventilador. Mesmo depois de abolida a escravidão, os vínculos de dependência e os hábitos cômodos da vida patriarcal de tão vil fundamento, perduraram, e, durante a primeira fase republicana, o custo baixo da mão de obra doméstica ainda permitiu à burguesia manter, mesmo sem escravos oficiais, o trem fácil da vida do período anterior.”

COSTA, Lúcio. “Depoimento de um arquiteto carioca”. In: Centro dos Estudantes Universitários de Arquitetura. Lúcio Costa: sobre arquitetura. Porto Alegre: UFRGS, 1962

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/world/americas/brazil-president-temer-corruption.html?_r=0

Paraguayan Student Movement Promises Political Awakening During “la Primavera Estudiantil”

By Gustavo Setrini, a Paraguayan political scientist and Assistant Professor of Food Studies at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education, Culture and Human Development and a Faculty Affiliate of the NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

University students are making history in Paraguay in what is being dubbed La Primavera Estudiantil (the Student Spring). Over the last weeks, they have mobilized one of the largest protest movements in the country’s history, demanding democratic reforms to the governance statutes of the National University of Asunción (UNA). Should they succeed, it will arguably mark the first time in the country’s modern history that major national reforms result from social movement pressure. The success that student protesters have had in mobilizing massive support and sympathy both reveals important changes in Paraguayan politics and has potential to transform it further still.

Over the last weeks, protests have attracted upward of 10,000 students and unified the university’s 12 schools in a strike and a campus sit-in that has paralyzed the university. Students have pledged to lift the strike only when university leaders accept four basic reforms to university governance: the elimination of the absolute majority currently held by professors in the university governing assembly that is composed of elected representatives of the professors, students, and alumni from each of the 12 faculties; term limits for elected university leadership positions; a ban on the “personal appointees” (“cargos de confianza”) of university leaders running for and occupying elected voting positions in the university governing bodies; and the creation of an independent electoral commission to regulate university elections.

In response to student mobilizations, the university assembly has called a meeting today to debate and vote on the proposed changes to the university statutes. On two earlier occasions in the last two months, the assembly met and voted down the students’ proposals, provoking further mobilization from the students.

marcha

A march on September 20, 2016 drew thousands of students and supporters. Photo by La Chispa

 

 

Continue reading

Kreyòl @ NYU

This academic year, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies began offering Haitian Creole language classes to students at New York University. Students at Lehman College and Columbia University can enroll in the classes as well thanks to the Indigenous and Diasporic Language Consortium. Kreyòl is one of Haiti’s two official languages and is spoken by around 10 million people worldwide, including the large Haitian community in New York.

Wynnie2A course is not a course without a teacher, and on fall of 2015 we were delighted to welcome Wynnie Lamour to the CLACS faculty. Wynnie is the founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York, where she offers Kreyól language classes and cultural events. CLACS MA student Brendan Fields talked with Wynnie about her experiences and expectations regarding Haitian Creole at NYU.

 

Continue reading

Las implicaciones contextuales de las traducciones al quechua

 

Post and interview by Raúl A. Rodríguez Arancibia, MA Candidate at CLACS – Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

Para más información sobre la presentación del estudio crítico del Dr. Odi Gonzales en NYU el 18 de noviembre de 2015 visite http://ow.ly/Ufutn.

Los textos literarios no pueden ser únicamente comprendidos y traducidos exitosamente sin su apreciación dentro de un contexto cultural como resultado de un proceso histórico. Por lo mismo, cierta sensibilidad frente al texto también es requerida al traductor cuando se enfrenta a la labor de traducir los códigos de una cultura hacia otro lenguaje donde no ha sido predominante el “logos” y el individuo, como axis de la producción de conocimiento.

Este es el caso de la literatura castellana traducida a idiomas indígenas de las Américas. En estos casos, la traducción más allá de ser una preparación humanística es, en el contexto post colonial Latinoamericano y específicamente el Andino, una zona de contacto, de luchas interpretativas, e intertextuales y un compromiso con los actores involucrados.

Esta noche, la presentación que brindará el Profesor Odi Gonzales, que es una mirada crítica a la traducción del clásico de Cervantes El Quijote, nos sugiere una mirada crítica de las nuevas aventuras interpretativas que se están dando en los Andes que proviene desde el mismo locus de enunciación indígena.

 

 

 

Ada Ferrer’s Book Wins Prestigious Prize

Ada Ferrer's book, Freedom's Mirror, won three awards from the American Historical Association.

Ada Ferrer’s book, Freedom’s Mirror, has already won four prestigious awards.

Ada Ferrer, professor of history and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University, has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her book “Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution” (Cambridge University Press).

The Douglass Prize was created jointly by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It is awarded annually by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. The $25,000 prize will be presented to Ferrer at a reception sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City on February 4, 2016.

In addition to Ferrer, the other finalists for the prize were Ezra Greenspan for “William Wells Brown: An African American Life” (W. W. Norton), and Michael Guasco for “Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World” (University of Pennsylvania Press).

This year’s finalists were selected from a field of more than 80 books by a jury of scholars that included Douglas Egerton (chair) of Le Moyne College, Rosanne Adderley of Tulane University, and James Sweet  of the University of Wisconsin. The winners were selected by a review committee of representatives from the Gilder Lehrman Center, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Yale.

“Freedom’s Mirror” offers “a fresh perspective and links these two nations together in a complex web, in which sugar slavery declined in Haiti just as it rose in Cuba,” commented the jury. “Ferrer’s research is most impressive; she fills her pages with proslavery Cuban generals, African slaves in both colonies, refugee ‘French Negroes,’ and Haitian leaders who hoped to weaken slavery on the islands that surrounded them. ‘Freedom’s Mirror’ will force even specialists to reconsider this era.” The jury also praised Ferrer’s “rendering of the complex politics in a beautifully written and understandable way that will be readily followed by readers with minimal knowledge of 19th-century Cuba, Haiti, and the Spanish Caribbean.”

This Ferrer’s book has already been awarded with other prestigious prizes. For instance it won the Friedrich Katz Prize in Latin American and Caribbean History, the Wesley-Logan Prize in African Diaspora History, and the James A. Rawley Prize for the History of the Atlantic Worlds before the 20th Century.

The Frederick Douglass Book Prize was established in 1999 to stimulate scholarship in the field of slavery and abolition by honoring outstanding books on the subject. The award is named for Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the slave who escaped bondage to emerge as one of the great American abolitionists, reformers, writers, and orators of the 19th century.


*Re-blogged from news.yale.edu. See original post here.