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Hydric life :
b a nietzschean reading of postcolonial communication
h [electronic resource] /
by Elena Ruiz-Aho.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
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Dissertation (PHD)--University of South Florida, 2010.
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ABSTRACT: This dissertation addresses the question of marginalization in cross-cultural communication from the perspectives of hermeneutic philosophy and postcolonial theory. Specifically, it focuses on European colonialism's effect on language and communicative practices in Latin America. I argue colonialism creates a deeply sedimented but unacknowledged background of inherited cultural prejudices against which social and political problems of oppression, violence and marginalization, especially towards women, emerge-but whose roots in colonial and imperial frameworks have lost transparency. This makes it especially difficult for postcolonial subjects to meaningfully express their own experiences of psychic dislocation and fragmentation because the discursive background used to communicate these experiences is made up of multiple, sometimes conflicting traditions. To address this problem, I turn to a strategic use of Nietzsche's conceptions of subjectivity and language as metaphor to engage the unique difficulties that arise in giving voice to the subaltern experience. Thus, I argue that while colonialism introduces an added layer of complexity to philosophical discussions of language, the concrete particularities and political emergencies of Latin American history necessitate an account of language that can speak to these concrete particularities. To this end, I develop a conception of, what I call, "hydric life," a postcolonial feminist hermeneutics that better accommodates these cultural specificities.
Advisor: Ofelia Schutte, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Hydric Life: A Nietzschean Reading of Postcolonial Communication by Elena F. Ruiz Aho A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Philosophy College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Ofelia Schutte, Ph.D. Charles Guignon, Ph.D. Stephen Turner, Ph.D. Joanne Waugh, Ph.D. Date of Approval: June 18, 2010 Keywords: Nietzsche, Language, Postcolonial, Hybridity, Hermeneutics Co pyright 2010, Elena F. Ruiz Aho
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge the guidance and support of the philosophy faculty at the University of South Florida. In particular, I wish to thank Steve Turner, Charles Guignon, Roger Ariew, a nd Joanne Waugh for their efforts, great and small, to support my work, my teaching, and inspire confidence in my endeavors. I also wish to thank my family, especially Margaret and Jim Aho, my mother, Elena, and my beloved partner, Kevin. Together, they wo ve a web of support so tightly latticed that the many unexpected setbacks which came my way were only temporary, part of the overall process of pursuing a difficult calling or worthwhile goal. Lastly, the occasion for giving acknowledgments and thanks woul d not be here in the first place were it not for the enduring care, tutelage and mentorship of Ofelia Schutte. It is to her that I owe any well tuned chords in my philosophic voice.
She is searching for a language with whic h to relay her urgency. -Lee Sharkey
TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... vi INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 1 CHAPTER ONE : Continental Views of Language: From Cartesian Lingui stics to Hermeneutic Feminis m ................................ ................................ .......................... 14 I. Taylor on Designative and E xpressivist views of Language .................. 18 II. The Importance of Hermeneutic Philosophy: Heidegger and Gadamer ................................ ................................ .................. 22 III. Contemporary Debates : Habermas and Gadamer .............................. 30 CHAPTER TWO : Intercultural Dialogue and the Problem of Colonized Languages: A Feminist Approach ................................ ................................ ......... 44 I. Betwee Language, Postcoloniali ty ................................ ............................. 48 II. Alphabetic Literacy and th e Conquest of the Americas ........................ 61 III. The Impact of Colonized Languages: Cultural Alterity and Liminality ................................ ................................ ................ 84 CHAPTER THREE : Theories o f Polyphonic Signification: Kristeva, Bakhtin, and Beyond ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 90 I. The Particularity of Language in Postcolonial Latin America ............... 91 and Intellectual Influences .............................. 98 III. Revolution in Poetic Language : Strengths and Limitations .............. 109 C HAPTER FOUR : Hydric Life: Nietzsche on Language and Multiplicitous Experience ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 125 I. Languag e as Critique of Metaphysics ................................ .................. 128 II. La nguage as a Social Dimension ................................ ........................ 132 III. Lan guage as Metaphoric Activity ................................ ...................... 141 IV. Lan guage as Metaphoric Activity and the Hermeneutic Body ................................ ................................ ............................. 150 V. Conclusion: Responding to the Postcolonial Bind .............................. 160 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 164 POSTSCRIPT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 171
ENDNOTES ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 182 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 202 ABOUT THE AUTHOR ................................ ................................ ...................... End Page
vi Hydric Life: A Nietzschean Reading of Postcolonial Communi cation Elena F. Ruiz Aho ABSTRACT This dissertation addresses the question of marginalization in cross cultural communication from the perspectives of hermeneutic philosophy and postcolonial theory. ffect on language and communicative practices in Latin America. I argue colonialism creates a deeply sedimented but unacknowledged background of inherited cultural prejudices against which social and political problems of oppression, violence and marginali zation, especially towards women, emerge but whose roots in colonial and imperial frameworks have lost transparency This makes it especially difficult for postcolonial subjects to meaningfully express their own experiences of psychic dislocation and fragm entation because the discursive background used to communicate these experiences is made up of multiple, sometimes conflicting traditions. To address this problem, I turn to a strategic use of r to engage the unique difficulties that arise in giving voice to the subaltern experience. Thus, I argue that while colonialism introduces an added layer of complexity to philosophical discussions of language, the concrete particularities and political em ergencies of Latin American history necessitate an account of language that can speak to these concrete particularities. To this
vii postcolonial feminist hermeneutics that better accommodates these cultural specificities.
1 I N TRODUCTION In the postcolonial world, the inability to speak and be heard across group and social differences can come at a ruinous cost, especially for women and indigenous peoples who, historically, have been dispropo rtionately affected by social and political violence due to intersectional oppressions like race, class, sex, gender, migratory or legal status and ethnicity. In situations where, in order to relay social urgencies or negotiate material interests (either o n their own behalf, that of their family, or marginalized communities), postcolonial subjects are compelled to initiate dialogue with members of dominantly positioned cultures (as in Anglo/European) in order to survive, what may be lost in the course of in tercultural dialogue is far more than a mere failure to reach agreement or mutual understanding. For marginalized subjects, whole families may be forcibly, irrevocably separated, confiscated indigenous lands razed rather than returned, impunity, graft, coercion and continued violence against minority groups. It may result, for example, in an apology from President Bill Clinton for U.S. support of a former Latin American d ictatorship 30 years earlier, when indigenous groups attempted to order to paci
2 And yet these social and political issues surrounding intercultural dialogue have not be en lost on social theorists. In the mid twentieth century, following the practical and holocaust Europe (2004, 389), particular focus fell on how to go about securing th e conditions underlying basic processes of communication deemed necessary for equitable double apriori ideal form of discourse immune from coercion while also pursuing independent legal, necessary conditions of application post holocaust Europe all too For Latin American philos ophers like Enrique Dussel, this multi tiered approach to discourse ethics fails to do justice to the concrete historical realities facing seventy five is sometimes 1 For these populations, the cost of first securing the social and political ethics to take effect in North South dialogue a nd which rely on a mutual extension of simply comes at too high a price. marginalized and subaltern subjects to commun icate, their communicative efforts
3 continue to be neglected due to social, structural, and historical oppressions. But while philosophers like Dussel have attempted to remedy this situation by grounding discourse ethics on religious ethical (in his case, Levinasian) imperatives, my approach is different. It centers on, what I see as, the pressing need to more robustly theorize the historical impact of colonialism on postcolonial and subaltern communicative practices. One clue to this need arises when we co nsider the central principle of discourse ethics to pragmatic model of communication that emphasizes competent in speech and action brings to a pr 90, 105). My aim is to show that, in the postcolonial world, what it means to have an any social practice is at issue due to the violent impact of European colonization. For these r easons, in this dissertation I try to understand and give an account, from a philosophical perspective, of the historical conditions which have impacted and continue to impact the lives of those dispossessed by European colonialism, particularly with regar d to women in Latin America, the Caribbean, and along the U.S. Mexico border. One way of doing this is by analyzing the effects of colonialism on native Mesoamerican conceptual frameworks, effects which, by virtue of the forceful imposition of foreign cate gories of knowledge onto Amerindian landscapes, have had a profound impact on the speaking positions of modern Latin Americans, especially through the active colonization of native languages. This violent imposition of European norms and practices ensured
4 first begin to believe anything, what we believe is not a single proposition, it is a whole syste shattered and supplanted by a radically different contextual system, enforced, in turn, by new linguistic conventions such as subject predicate grammar and modern alphabetic lite racy And yet, while this historical impact has been profound, it is rarely acknowledged as a powerful force in our day to day public dealings and interactions. This is especially true at the level of dialogue and discussion based politics in Latin Americ a, where the existence of democratic public processes and institutions (in certain regions) make it appear as if structural checks are in place that would allow claimants, regardless of ethnic, racial, or sexual differences, to address grievances with conf idence that they will indeed be heard. Feminist communication theory has been particularly helpful in this regard for outlining the ways in which democratic dialogue and deliberative models of decision making can work to exclude certain groups by relying o n particular conceptions of language as neutral and value free (Young 1999, 2000; Rakow 2004). Because, by and large, these theories also do no account for the differences enacted by colonial imposition of one culturally proscribed, discursive framework ov er another, one way to understand my project is as an extension of postcolonial perspectives to feminist communication theory. Thus it might be surprising that I do not directly engage deliberate democratic models or feminist critiques thereof in this wor k. 2 This is not on account of an oversight, but because I have chosen an altogether different strategy for addressing questions of marginalization in cross cultural communication.
5 Methodologically, I draw on a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives i ncluding postcolonial theory, Continental and postcolonial feminisms, and hermeneutic philosophy. Hermeneutic philosophy serves as a foreground for much of this project because it offers the historical and contextual view of language and meaning formation that is crucial for my analysis of the cultural impact of colonization on Amerindian languages. To rely on the hermeneutic view of language, then, is to take as a starting point the centrality of language in shaping human understanding. To this end, it is important to acknowledge the mainstream Anglophone view of language that I am critical of in this project. Specifically, it is the conception of language that was inspired by Cartesian and empiricist epistemologies and popularized by the legacies of analyt ic philosophers like A. J. Ayer, Bertrand Russell, (even J. L. Austin) and the linguist Noam Chomsky, who regard language largely as a rule governed system that is capable of securing an accurate relationship of correspondence between the contents of the s language, on this view, becomes the formalized study of the various dimensions of the mind as well as the logical analysis of propositions and semantic co ntent. By way of hermeneutic criticisms, I argue that this ahistorical conception of language fails to acknowledge the thick background of historical and cultural meanings that are already familiar, already shaping and guiding our speech acts, determining in advance why one values certain epistemological, socio political, and ethical paradigms and concepts in the first place. This is particularly important for the purposes of my project because these de contextualized, subject object views of language were fundamental in the colonization of native Amerindian languages, and can be evinced from conquest era ethnographic
6 Rhetorica Christiana (1579). Given this methodological overv iew of my project, I begin chapter one with an analysis of the hermeneutic view of language developed by Martin Heidegger, Hans Georg Gadamer and Charles Taylor because these thinkers recognize that prior to the reflective, inner/outer distinctions of main stream representational views of language, human beings are already tacitly involved in a socio historical tradition, a shared historical background that gives value and meaning to everyday acts and practices, and that we embody these cultural meanings pre reflectively. One of the problems traditionally associated with this view, however, is that if one is always inextricably actors marginalized within that particular tradition can ever adopt an objective, independent standpoint from which to genuinely challenge the oppressive, perhaps racist, or sexist tendencies that are endemic to that tradition. To address this problem, I offer an ique of Gadamer, outlining the various ways in be overcome for social and political theorists. Following my own commitments to a plural feminist politics that can attend to the concrete urgencies and specificities of social life without abandoning the irreducible imprint of history in shaping those urgencies, I then turn to the applied, hermeneutic feminism of Georgia Warnke, who draws on points of contact between Haberma s and Gadamer. Warnke offers a broader and more pluralistic interpretative position that is attentive to the diverse, heterogeneous experiences of
7 marginalized social groups and actors in culture, specifically with regard to women. I conclude this chapter by suggesting that, although Warnke succeeds in broadening the hermeneutic horizon to more accurately account for the experiences of women, Warnke is, as a hermeneuticist, unable to address the uniquely embodied concerns of the postcolonial gendered subje ct whose meaningful historical background has been forcibly shattered by colonialism. In chapter two, using a feminist approach, I turn to the question of producing theoretical frameworks that do justice to the complexity of lived experien ce for postcolonial and subaltern subjects. In this regard, I show how the rupture of the background of meaning for the postcolonial subject adds a layer of intricacy that neither account for. This is due to the unique effect colonialism has had on native Amerindian languages, including the very interpretive possibilities made available in culture. To this end, by drawing on postcolonial theory, I show how the introduction of the W estern alphabet and subject predicate grammar as well as the assumptions of exclusionary logic (i.e. the laws of identity and non contradiction), interiorization, and narrative linearity have resulted in a unique kind of violence to the discursive practice s of native Mesoamerican communities The consequences for the modern, marginalized postcolonial subject are, in my view, twofold. First, the trauma and confusion caused by inhabiting a horizon of disjointed and fragmented meanings has resulted in a comple x, multiplicitous experience
8 meanings and cultural norms a complicated affair (1987, 78). Second, the breakdown of a prior cultural context means that this postcolonial, multiplicitous subject must bear the added burden of negotiating interests through conceptual paradigms and norms one is not totally at home with. I go on to argue that because the hermeneutic view of language is largely focused on the conditions for worldly meaning that is, for the most part, cohesive, stable and unified, it tends to overlook particular experiences of psychic confusion and dislocation when an indige nous horizon of meaning has been shattered or destroyed by means of colonialism. Chapter three addresses this phenomenon of ruptured meaning by turning to the philosophies of language in Mikhail Bakhtin and Julia Kristeva. Again, I argue that while the hermeneutic view of language emphasizes the stability and continuity of meaning thereby addressing the problem of cultural differences by means of some what is often neglected is how this smooth continuity of meaning is frequently shattered in the pre predicative bodily drives and desires that reveal a self that is never unified and en procs ill ustrating her often overlooked intellectual indebtedness to Bakhtin, and exploring her psychoanalytic connection to Freud and Lacan, I try to show how the hermeneutic notion of dialogic understanding between different cultural frameworks can be problematiz ed if
9 understanding is already polyphonic and unstable. I show how, on of the material body, revealing a realm of incarnate meaning that cannot be cap tured in the symbolic realm, in language or in signification. I conclude this chapter by suggesting that, while helpful for postcolonial theory in decalcifying the notion of a unified subject still too indebted to European intellectual culture, specifically the theoretical assumptions of psychoanalysis and Western notions of subject predicate grammar that she inherits from her encounters with French structuralism. Th us, she is largely unable to see how the phenomena of literacy, Eurocentric interpretations of psychic development, and even the alphabet might be experienced as sources of historical oppression. In chapter four, I attempt to overcome the theoretical pr ejudices associated with marginality, multiplicitous subjectivity, and embodied alterity by turning to Friedrich Nietzsche on Latin American philosophy in general (and how his views on language can resonate with the works of important Latina writers such as Mariana Ortega and Gloria Anzalda), I suggest that, when brought into theoretical interaction with postcoloni al theory, certain aspects experience of the postcolonial subject. I begin by distinguishing between three accounts of language that Nietzsche gave throughout his career. The first account i s a critique of the representational (inner/outer) view of language that the philosophical tradition inherited
10 from the metaphysics of Plato and Descartes. The second account is a hermeneutic view, where language is understood as a background of socio hist orical meanings that the speaking subject is always inextricably bound to. The third, and most important view for my purposes is the account of language as an embodied and pre conscious metaphorical activity. I want to suggest that this last account whic h integrates the hermeneutic view without neglecting the importance of the pre linguistic, corporeal body is crucial in providing a theoretical framework that recognizes the fractured, contradictory, and multiplicitous aspects of postcolonial life while at the same time holding these divergent and ambiguous aspects together in a meaningful way so that the notion of selfhood can still be applied. By stressing the interdependence between the contradictory and complex drives and affects of the physical body on the one hand, and the socio historical background that gives meaning to these drives and affects on the other, Nietzsche opens a discursive space for a self that is both multiplicitous and unified, fragmented and held together. Language is metaphorical ac tivity in this regard because it always begins with those of the postcolonial subject, translated and made intelligible by a horizon of meaning Thus, taking a cue from Nietzsche (but also moving beyond his project), the notion of selfhood as continually splintered by experiences of narrative discontinuity (due to inhabiting multiple and conflicting contexts of cultural reference) yet held t ogether by a hermeneutic background that allows one to strategically participate in meaning
11 view, allows for a positive re description of an otherwise alienating and confusing phenomenon that can further marginalize social groups and actors already at the limen of discursive spaces. 3 It can also concretize and give legitimacy to contr adictory experiences that, in the absence of a generally cohesive, social backdrop (or what Charles Taylor calls deemed invalid or not acknowledged as real. 4 A word now on terminology. As the reader will find, I often make use of the term multiple oppressions like race, class, caste, gender and ethnicity in the colonized wo rld. 5 Although my use of the term applies to the Latin American context, it is analogous to South Asian society, whether this is expressed in terms of class, caste, age, gender and of intersectional oppressions can result in significantly different levels of marginalization an woman, for example, is very different from a Latina academic living in the United States, yet they are both differences as well. One important difference is that for Guha and other Indian Prison Notebooks from 1929 35) specifically addresses the question of agency in relation to contemporary norms and culture. That is to say, subalter n peoples are those who have been historically excluded from access to representation in the dominant cultural
12 paradigm, as well as from the very instruments of writing history (such as literacy and writing). It is on account of this exclusion that subalte speak in terms legitimated by the dominant culture. By contrast, a Latina academic, whether in Latin America or abroad, cannot be said to be subaltern because she has difference in subjects I refer to. Although I specifically attend to the experiences of non indigenous postcolonial subjects, such a s U.S. third world feminists living in the United States, generally speaking, my main focus remains on those most affected, historically, by colonial imposition, such as indigenous Amerindian women. changeably for spoken language when addressing issues of communication, there at times remains some ambiguity as to the view on language I rely on for my arguments against the Imperial project in the Americas. In this sense, a practical differentiation of terms using capitals hermeneutic speech or verbal utterances) might have been helpful but would have introduced its own difficulties into the mix. Thus, for the record, I understa nd speech communication to be just one facet albeit a very important one of language in the wider, hermeneutic sense of an expressive background that gives shape and meaning to all our social practices, including, but not limited to spe ech and verbal utterances. Writing, weaving, speaking, painting, dancing, poetry, bodily gestures, and the like are all, on this latter view, examples of language. This is important to stress, both methodologically and
13 conceptually because, as I point out in chapter two, the view of language fifteenth century European missionaries, ethnographers, and conquistadores relied on was the one inspired by Cartesian and Empirical epistemologies, and which I critique in chapter one. Finally, with regard to transla tions of referenced material, unless otherwise noted, all translations from Spanish and French into English are my own. particularities of social life making this a thesis, not in hermeneutic, but in social political, or social philosophy. It seems to me that, more than a decade after Ofelia communication between Anglo American and Latina spea kers, as well as the difficulties have not waned but only intensified (1998, 47). Today, with the recent passing of some of the most stringent anti immigrant legislation i heightening of armed violence along the U.S. greatest challenges facing North South relatio of pluralizing intercultural discourse ethics to account for the multiplicitous experiences of postcolonial subjects carries great salience today. This dissertation is just one step towards this goal.
14 C HAPTER ONE : Continental Views of Language: from Cartesian Linguistics to Hermeneutic Feminism Continental views of language can be understood broadly as those that arose in the European continent during key shifts in philosophic discourse in the late eig hteenth century as manifested in the traditions of German Idealism and Romanticism, and, in the early nineteenth century, hermeneutic thought. 6 They are historically responsive to the model of language that developed in conjunction with modern science and which came to Naturwissenschaften ) from the nineteenth century onwards. Following the successes of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century and the rise of specialist research culture tha t accompanied this revolution, the explanatory Geisteswissenschaften ) began to lose the dominant status they once held in the classical period and later, in Renaissance humanist thought. Responding to thi s intellectual shift, Continental views of language specifically critique the empirical, formalized study of natural languages as a way of explaining how language figures into human understanding. This latter view, which came to prominence in the nineteent h century through modern linguistics and semantic theory, saw language as a rule governed system capable of securing correct judgment about the
15 Vienna Circle) and s emantic content. It stressed the synchronic, rational classification of linguistic categories as a way to clarify the nature of the medium through which thought was expressed. The demystification of language thus became a subordinate project to the demysti fication of the mind. This tradition, which is entwined with the legacies of rationalist and empiricist epistemologies, shaped the trajectory of thinkers like A.J. Ayer, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, J.L. Austin, Rudolf Carnap and Noam Chomsky. In Ca rtesian Linguistics (1966), Chomsky traces the development of nineteenth century semantics back to the Cartesian inspired work of Antoine Arnauld (1612 1694) and other seventeenth language was a reflection of thought (31). He writes: Pursuing the fundamental distinction between body and mind, Cartesian linguistics characteristically assumes that language has two aspects. In particular, one may study a linguistic sign from the point of view of t he sounds that constitute it and the characters that represent these signs or from the point of view signifier leurs penses (Arnauld, Grammaire gnrale et raisonne, short, language has an inner and an outer aspect. A sentence can be studied from the point of view of how it expresses a thought or from the point of view of its physical shape, that is, from the point of view of either semantic interpretation or phonetic interpretation (32 33). 7 The meaning of a sentence on this account has very little to do with what is said in conversation with its expressive content in relation to a human life world. The principal concern is rather with the logical operations that ma ke its technical formulation with how possible in the first place. As Hans Georg Gadamer spoken of in the text; rather, he wants to shed light upon the functioning of language as
16 8 autonomous individual and promotes the com finite means but infinite possibilities of expression constrained only by rules of concept 9 While the rules of sentence formation may be idiosyncratic or arbitr ary to a particular time and place, the they are, for Chomsky as for many Anglophone philosophers of language that follow in this traditi 10 This is not what Wilhelm Dilthey, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Hans Georg Gadamer, and other thinkers associated with the Continental tradition think language is. linguist, that which makes understanding possible is precisely the forgetfulness of does not mean that language do es not play a role in shaping human understanding of our sense of our world and our place in it but just the opposite. It means that language already envelops and inhabits our lives in a more basic, pre linguistic sense and that our ability to use it pre reflectively (i.e., without having to stop and think about it) our is indicative of this primordial role. But when we conceive of language itself as the precondition for human understanding and not in terms nonlinguistic mind dependent states or biological processes we realize that
17 language cannot then be a private affair, and that its nature must draw instead from a publicly shared context to achieve its collective referential power. This context is culture itself, under stood in terms of a shared historical tradition. However, the suggestion here is not that culture is necessarily anterior fundamental level, dialogically bound up and intertwined. As Charles Guignon explains, ov Language, on the Continental view, is therefore a much more complex (non axiomati zable) human affair that weaves together the various modalities of human experience and practice in a way that is constitutive of, rather than being constituted by, asse origin of language cannot John Loc ke (1632 1704) and tienne Condillac (1715 1780) which also see thoughts as anterior to their expression in language suppose (qtd. in Emden, 39). This issue can be call
18 I. Taylor on Designative and Expressivist Views of Language (2006) Charles Taylor tells the story of the origin of l anguage according to Condillac in order to contrast its features with, what I have been calling, the Continental Taylor, Condillac illustrate how language might have arisen. It is a fable of two children in a desert. We assume certain cries and gestures as natural second emerged out of the first. He argues that each child, seeing the other, say, cry out in distress, would come to see the cry as a sign of something (e.g. what causes distress). He would then be able to take t he step of using the sign to refer to the cause of distress. The first sign would have been instituted. The children would have their first word. Language would be born (1985 a 233). 1803) critique of Condillac i n ber den Ursprung der Sprache which the children emit just animal cries to the stage where they use words with how it is that words or gestures say something in the first place specific, pre linguistic association between words, saying, and reason seems to already be of certain elements: ideas, signs, and their association, [and where] the mind is in
19 language when viewed as an inert tool or medium for the expression of ideas. This view, which can be used to marshal ideas, this use being something we can fully control and a individual (a cogito ) as the subject of language and gives meaning to words by looking to the semantic correlations between wor something by virtue of the things they point to or designate, Taylor also uses the term which make designations fundame 21). rential relation to a specified object, in this verify the relations expressed in it (i.e., that it is indeed on the table). What is left out of this account, for Taylor take shape in this wider sense, books have to already have a particular kind of significance for us that is not arbitrary or shaped by mere cultural conventions of word
20 1913) Course in Genera l Linguistics (1906 11). arbor Ba um the mental word back to the same psychological representation of sensory impressions, such that a linguistic sign becomes a link between this impression and the c intersubjective agreement in place are not words themselves, but the fact that word signs that are universally shared under physicalist (i.e., materialist) doctrines (297). Saussure offers an intriguing example. A child growing up in a particular would learn which, taken together, gradually teach a child to play a game or (with respect to speech communication) understand the vocal sounds he hears (ibid). The child then understands the so already bound up within an elaborate network of other social and historical
21 understandings in Chinese culture understandings which cannot be mad e fully transparent insofar as they are what sustain the meaningfulness of the expression itself (302). It is this latter, wider sense of understanding language as an intricately braided, socio Gewebe ) of meaning that Taylor thinks gives weight and import, to all human expression in general expressive 85 a 233). Under designative theories, the expressive dimension of poems, songs, and works of art are particularly problematic and are often bracketed out as non literal deviations from everyday propositional speech content, content which does not fully make manifest the robustness and range of poetic expressiveness contained in the p hrase (1909, 57). A sharp distinction is thus made between poetic and everyday, ordinary language, with the former being considered 11 a ) [or languag
22 a 235). It canno t, therefore, be a mere repository of words (as signs or indexicals) that we subsequently attach meaning to and formalize in dictionaries. For instance, a dictionary, as Heidegger a dictionary can neither grasp nor keep the word by which the terms become words and speak as things out as this or that, requires a background of meanings, a shared hist orical context that give breadth and significance to all human acts and practices from propositional Chris Lawn explains, the expressive power of language is made expli cit when we become aware of the full range of activities accompanying articulations. The situation, intentions, unwitting meanings of speakers within the full range of possibilities (tone of voice, modulation, gesture, etc), in short context, expressively contribute to that language represents the world it is possible to refer to a constitutive role world or environment) (2004, 12). important to give an account of the hermeneutic thought that informs his view. In particular, we need to look at the accounts of langua ge offered by the two central hermeneutic thinkers of the twentieth century, Heidegger and Gadamer. II. The Importance of Hermeneutic Philosophy: Heidegger and Gadamer mankind are a co nversation. The being of men is founded in language. But this becomes actual in
23 conversation Gesprch die Sache ) what one says and talks about in conversation that speakers relate to by means of a shared language which is un derstood as a discursive background of meaning (TM, 387). Rather than a willful act, conversation is something we undergo (385). The first thing to notice here is that this view of communication differs substantially from the conventional understanding of communication as the mechanistic to and fro of willful speech ge, by autonomous subjects or cogitos For Heidegger, the world is held together and made meaningful by the shared discursive acts and practices that human beings grow into. It is becaus e human beings grow into a particular social situation embodied in public expressions, symbols, practices, does not reside within a self contained mind or consciousness, b ut rather in the world that immer schon ) involved in during the course of our everyday lives. Being in the world means to be already bound up, pre reflectively, with everyday acts and practices. Language, then, understood as an inte lligible background of public Lichtung ) that allows the meaning or significance of things to emerge. In The Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger illustrates
24 rceive a throng of sensations, e.g., tones and hear just this conversation is already to be familiar w ith what is said insofar as one does not hear a see here how for both Heidegg in the world is Thus, on the hermeneutic view of language, to understand something is to already have interpreted it in a certain way so that things speak or have claims over us by virtue of universal medium in which understanding occurs. Understa ( under standing that arises in interpretation cannot at all be compared to what is elsewhere nt Verstehen ) that takes place in conversation rests on hermeneutical understanding, which, on this view, is more primordial than scientific Erklrung ). Hermeneutic understanding is more primordial becaus e scientific explanation is always grounded in a prior background of meaning that makes
25 scientific discourse possible to begin with. The scientist makes sense of her world through a ready made framework of falsifiable causal links, regularities, and patter ns in natural laws that she understands through her training as a scientist and by becoming a practitioner in the broader scientific tradition. It is only by virtue of this tradition that she can speak as a scientist. More importantly for our purposes, it is also by virtue of this that she can speak to other scientists. It is clear she already knows how to speak to the other d, seamless way, carrying a conversation scientist (TM, 360). The implications of this view are significant because the Cartesian assumption of an objective, Arch imedean starting point which grounds the physical sciences can now be seen as just that an assumption. 12 We are alerted to the fact that scientific practices themselves require a tacit background or interpretive framework. Language or Rede ), on in the the totality of interpretation Language, u nderstood this way, is thus not something we stumble upon or a second being is in the world; in fact, when we undergo experiences of things we see that it is just the opposite that, in
26 fact, the language that things have whatever kind of things they may be is not the logos ousias and it is not fulfilled in the self contemplation of an infinite intellect; it is the language that our finite, historical nature apprehends when we learn to speak emphasis added). We see that in conversation a common language is presupposed, where die Mitte at man has a world 13 Having explicated the hermeneutic view of language, we are now in a position to die Sache ) a d ative process wherein not as an independent lexical referent in the conversation, as the designative vi ew would hold but rather as expressing or making manifest something already held in common. 14 Second, understanding what someone else is talking about depends on a prior but common disclos able what can show up or appear within an already opened space or horizon of meani ng. Third, through the spoken conversation, what unfolds in the ebb and flow of
27 dialogue is not a truth vernnftige Gedanken ) of some sort (180). Rather, what emerges in its truth is the logos, which is neither mine This means when we intelligibly and coherently relate to the subject matter, a shared langu age has already been established, recedes into the background, and tacitly supports the meaningful dimension of the conversation. We need only think of how one uses up words in spoken conversation: words are discarded or recede as soon as they are used sin the very act of understanding 15 Beca use hermeneutical understanding ensures that the meaning of what is said or as this openness always includes our situating the other meaning in relation to th e whole of our own meanings the other person can always, in principle, be right, one should no longer be as concerned
28 with the rhetorical success of the moves made in conversation. Thi s is, in fact, what leads to inauthentic or corruptive forms of conversation for Gadamer. When we are concerned with muscling our own opinions over and against the other speaker so that we may, from the beginning, win the argument, the conversation has bee eyes, it never even began because the speakers were not open to really hearing what the person down but that one really considers the w While we can acknowledge the crucial significance of hermeneutic openness to question of why the Western tradition has been motivate d to impose universal standards Bernstein has an important reply. Bernstein ch one that attempts to bring order, stability, and control over an otherwise chaotic and contingent world, and being exposed to a strange, foreign culture with a radically different horizon o f meaning can remind us of this fundamental contingency. But if we although we are eminently fallible and subject to all sorts of contingencies, we can rest secure in the d eepened self knowledge that we are creatures of a beneficent God who has mankind set up in language a separate world beside the other [lived]w orld, a place it took to be so firmly set that, standing upon it, it could lift the rest of the world
29 of the occupation with science (HH I, 11). However, Cartesian Anxiety does not refer to a psychological state. As Bernstein explains: I t would be a mistake to think that the Cartesian Anxiety is primarily religious, metaphysical, epistemological, or mor al anxiety. These are only several of the se of Descartes. We may even purge ourselves of the quest for certainty and indubitability. But at the heart belief that there are or must be some fixed, permanent constraints to which we can message is that there are no such basic constraints except those that we invent or temporally accept (23). the complicity between scientific objectivism (including the view of language that supports it) and the imperial project in the Americas begins to come into focus. Rooted in an ontological need for control and stability, Cartesian anxiety can be understo od as informing the reification of subject manipulated and analyzed by the European ethnographer. However, as we will see in later chapters, the ability to encounter the native not a s an object or thing to be exploited but as a way of being already nested in a rich and meaningful context of socio historical and cultural relations seems to be much more viable on the hermeneutic view. With this overview of hermeneutic accounts of langua ge in place, we get a clearer sense of the fundamental role that Heidegger and Gadamer play in Continental views of language and how these thinkers undermine a number of core assumptions in traditional Anglophone or designative views of language. It is imp ortant to note, however, that the
30 hermeneutic view is not without its critics within the Continental tradition, especially by those, like myself, who are concerned with social, political, and psychically violent implications of language for the postcolonia l subject. We can now broaden our discussion by examining the central points of this socio political critique by its principal architect, Jrgen Habermas. III. Contemporary Debates: Gadamer and Habermas Although Habermas does not take up a hermeneuti c view of language opting conditional] semantics founded by Frege and developed through the relation between sentence and state of affairs, betwee 16 (1984, 276) nonetheless, as David Hoy suggests, Habermas can be placed within the framework of hermeneutics because he acknowledges as a direct influence on his own theory the primacy given to understanding by the hermeneutical tradition from Dilthey to Heidegger and telos of understanding takes pla ce against the background of a culturally ingrained Beyond this, Habermas can also be placed within the hermeneutic framework insofar as, in offering an account of how un derstanding between individuals in culture is reached, he
31 mindedness [ Gleichgest immtheit cognition (1984, 287). It is important to note that although Habermas privileges an intersubjective model lived, s ocial contexts, as a composite feature of this rationality, he still retains the Verstndigung ] means, at the minimum, that a t least two speaking and acting subjects understand a linguistic expression in the distinguishes between different kinds of action and corresponding rationality in society (Weber, 19 78, 4), Habermas wants to illustrate a model of rationality and human agency that emphasizes (what he believes to be) the reciprocal, communicative relation between individuals interacting in everyday life, and which serve as the basis for coordinating act ion plans between them. The key will be to then offer a rational reconstruction of the process by which such coordination is achieved in a non coercive, non manipulative fashion presu process of coming to an understanding through rational, argumentative discourse (1976, 30). What makes argumentative discourse the idea of impartiality is rooted in the structures of argumentation themselves and does not 76). Following a procedural model of rational argumentation where argumentation is s a special form of rule can thus offer certain guarantees
32 that is key for Habermas, and this process, in turn, is intersubjectively valid because it rests on 17 individuals to community derives from his cautionary wariness of the negative aspects of the ends) Dialectic of Enl ightenment (1944). His goal, however, is not to criticize this tradition but to redeem it by producing a more robust account of rationality that can accommodate the shared aspects of consensual, deliberative democratic procedures in public life and downpla y the instrumental, goal directed acts of autonomous, individual agents. Habermas worries that actions teleologically towards private interests and can potentially lead to t otalitarian or authoritative social realities. Societies focused on the continual employment of other original mode of will h elp thwart such tendencies in public and political life. based on a radically different set of premises from hermeneutic understanding, sufficient to posit a theory of social o far beyond the goals of
33 hermeneutics, and aims instead at reaching concrete forms of intersubjective agreement between speakers. He writes: The goal of coming to an understanding [ Verstndigung ] is to bring out an agreem ent [ Einverstndnis ] that terminates in the intersubjective mutuality of reciprocal understanding, shared knowledge, mutual trust, and accord with one another. Agreement is based on recognition of the corresponding validity claims of comprehensibility, tru th, truthfulness and rightness (1979, 3, my emphasis). Because Habermas adopts a designative view of language from the Analytic philosophical tradition a view whose heritage he readily acknowledges and sketches out himself ain the concept of reaching understanding 287) and this, in turn, will involve a reductive account of language as a series of truth conditional speech acts which accurately convey our intentions to other speakers and provide the background material necessary for coordinating joint plans of action in the speech act carried out by S to whic h at least one participant in interaction can take up a things are involved here : the nature of the conditions under which speech communication effectively coordinates actions between individuals, and what it means for individuals to a speech act w world from which it derives its validity, which presupposes a particular conception of rationality (297): In contexts of communicative action, we call someone rational not only if he i s able to put forward an assertion and, when criticized, to provide grounds for it by
34 pointing to appropriate evidence, but also if he is following an established norm and is able, when criticized, to justify his action by explicating the given situation i n the light of legitimate expectations. We even call someone rational if he makes known a desire or an intention, expresses a feeling or a mood, shares a secret, confesses a deed, etc., and is then able to reassure his critics in regard to the revealed exp erience by drawing particular consequences from it and behaving consistently thereafter (15). pre reflectively by virtue of a shared history, for Habermas it remains an intentiona l act of whom retain s for Habermas, as it points us towards a non authoritative view of ra tionality as fallible and fro of two or more communicatively acting agents. He writes: These reflections point in the direction of basing the rationality of an expression on its being s usceptible of criticism and grounding: an expression satisfies the precondition for rationality if and insofar as it embodies fallible knowledge and therewith has a relation to the objective world (that is, a relation to the facts) and is open to objective judgment (1984, 9). Truth and Method and published a book revi ew containing a from this review, first published in German in Philosophische Rundschau (1967, English On the Logic of the Social Sciences (1970). In particular, Habermas raised human understanding was too conservative and restricted th e possibility of social
35 change of taking a possible standpoint outside tradition in order for social agents to challenge or critique it. According to Habermas, historical traditions even if they provide the normative background against which understanding takes place must, in principle, be open to criticism in the same way that reason, for Habermas, first embodies fallible potentially renders to use one example, the protestational acts and practices of political claimants mute against authoritative regimes (1977, 360). essential to first understand it in terms of the lived commitments and historical influences that shaped his philosophical project. As Richard Bernstein explains: The world in which Habermas grew up and came to intellectual maturity, which coincides with the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, was virtually a totally different experience has been one of histor ical continuity, the primary formative experience for Habermas was that of discontinuity the trauma of almost a total break with tradition. Many commentators of Habermas tend to ignore or downplay the specific historical circumstances that had a decisive i nfluence on him during the decades of the 1940s through the 1960s: the collapse of Nazi Germany, the discovery by Germans only after the war of the immensities of the horrors of this era, and the hope of making a new beginning. Yet we fail to adequately un impressed Habermas, as a young student, was the failure of twentieth century German culture to provide a serious counterthrust to the rise of Nazi ideology (1983, 177). Thus, Frankfurt, he largely rejected the radically pessimistic view of the Enlightenment project
36 Theory. As a neo Marxist shaped by the lived concerns of a post holocaust social and political milieu, Habermas was compelled to retain a belief in the emancipatory powers of reflective processes against the distortions produced by ideology. However, inso far as he understood the deep complicity between instrumental, means ends rationality and the Nazi project of racial cleansing, a project that hauntingly reached the level of official, bureaucratic, and legal sanctioning in Nazi Germany, Habermas remained committed to a more critical model of rationality but one which still had to retain the critical capacity project of modernity but in a much more critical, reha bilitative sense. From this perspective, the notion of drawing our understandings from an apparently unmovable historical background of interpretive possibilities which form cannot help but be deeply themselves free of the form of life in which they de facto our historical traditions are dominated by racist, sexist, even totalitarian va lues and social Habermas must be) outside this tradition? An independent standp oint that can guide us as to the possible harms of such outlooks, even by making appeals that reference our own normative cultural standards? For Habermas, the objective power of reflection is this Ga damer fails to appreciate the power of reflection that is developed in understanding. This type of reflection is no longer blinded by the illusion of an absolute, self grounded autonomy and does not detach itself from the soil of contingency on which it fi nds itself. But in grasping the genesis of the tradition
37 from which it proceeds and on which it turns its back, reflection shakes the dogmatism of life practices (1977, 357). Truth and Method appeared, Gadamer published Philosophical Hermeneutics hereafter PH). tiered. First, he thinks Habermas has fundamentally misread or overlooked ke y passages in Truth and Method where Gadamer points to the flexive, open presupposi tions that would make him overlook or misinterpret such passages. According to Gadamer: The presupposition is that reflection, as employed in the hermeneutical sciences, th at we can see is pure dogmatism, for reflection is not always and unavoidably a step towards dissolving prior convictions. Authority is not always wrong. Yet Habermas regards it as an untenable assertion and treason to the heritage of the Enlightenment, an d the act of rendering transparent the structure of prejudgments in understanding should possibly lead to an acknowledgment of authority. Authority is by his definition a dogmatic power. I cannot accept the assertion that reason and authority are abstract antitheses, as the emancipatory Enlightenment did. Rather, I assert that they stand in a basically ambivalent relation, a relation I think should be explored rather than causally accepting the antithesis as a 33). For Gada of immovable structures. In Truth and Method permanent precondition; rather, we produce it ourselves inasmuch as we understand, p emphasis added). One way to get a better grasp on this concept is through the idea that en are
38 constantly shaping language [as speech], straining the limits of expression, minting new us, quite uncontrolled by the rest of language. They can only be introduced and make sense because they already have a place within the web, which must at any moment be taken as a Guer nica or ones which only make sense as new perspectives when considered against the old ones; in fact, the old perspectives of realism act as kind of unconscious backd rop and are necessary to give abstractionist paintings the very meaning they possess as 1945) image of remaking a boat while at sea: We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction (1973, 199). the sense that no new interpretations are possib le, but only in the sense that what we say to each other is going to already be shaped and guided in advance by a specific historical horizon that is never, in principle, fixed and static. For Gadamer, the meaning of what one says to another in conversatio even as a misunderstanding into the p re
39 stances against totalitaria n regimes or undertake social transformations against certain values because we already, in a deep sense, value principles of fairness, justice, and the good of all. But this latter perspective is relative only to a particular historical tradition where su ch values are interpretive possibilities in the first place. As Paul Feyerabend, in Science and a Free Society explains Being a tradition is neither good nor bad, it simply is. The same applies, to all traditions they are neither good nor bad, they simply are. They become good or bad (rational/irrational; pious/impious; advanced/primitive; humanitarian/vicious; etc.) only when looked at from the point of view of some other tradition. Semitism and human itarianism, but racism will appear vicious to a humanitarian while humanitarianism will appear vapid to a racist (1978, 8 9). For Gadamer, we are not slaves to tradition. The fact that we are shaped by both humanistic values and have histories steeped in instrumental rationality means we are in a unique position to mitigate between these traditions through the kinds of practices we take up and in light of how these traditions have been received. Thus, Gadamer replies to Habermas in saying that from the h ermeneutical standpoint, rightly understood, it is absolutely absurd to regard the concrete factors of work and politics as outside the scope of tradition formed from? It would be true when Habermas asserts that does not enter our world our to be understood, understandable, or non understandable world but remains the mere observation of external alternations (instead of human actions) (PH 31). The wide gulf that then divides Habermas and Gadamer cente rs on the extent to which, in being able to reshape tradition without dominating it, human beings (or for Habermas
40 a 232). Because of their significantly different start ing points and lived commitments, this is a gulf that cannot be bridged between the two thinkers. 18 In a letter to Richard Bernstein, Gadamer concedes as much: I too am in favor of a government and politics that would allow for mutual understanding and the freedom of all. But this is not due to the influence of Habermas. It has been self evident to any European since the French Revolution, since Hegel and Kant. But I am not talking about what is to be done in order to realize this state of affairs. Rather, I am concerned with the fact that the displacement of human reality never goes so far that no forms of solidarity exist any longer (as qtd. in Bernstein, 1983, 264). 19 And so the impasse stands. Yet, there have been important attempts at reconciliation b etween these two philosophical positions Warnke attempts to do this by way of feminist concerns. 20 are particularly important for the purposes of my project because she constructively engages both the time acknowledging the potentially oppressive and inescapable nat hermeneutic situation. mechanism by which actual negotiation of interpretive
41 differences can take place is limited to 1 ) a restrictive model of argumentative speech and underlying assumption here is that reasoned argument is indeed impartial and capable of altogether transcending particular socio historical contexts, contexts which include important gendered and sexual differences that affect, for example, how communication shows up for women. On this view, one way to look at the problem of communicative action is that it ct from [cultural] history and complexity to find neutral foundations the way Warnke e nvisions, neither does she think we can transcend these differences clearly fol lowing Gadamer and his criticism that Habermas does not acknowledge the extent to which there is no neutral, value free, isolated standpoint from which we may make privileged judgments or deliberations. Although Warnke is sympathetic to the social democrat democratic models of speech communication remains, namely: what if the very language of a tradition can be the source of power and domination? What are we to do about the distortions within our thick vocabulary that render women mute or serve to deflate or deconstruct the expressions of their concerns? In this case, it will not be enough to insist that women be allowed the opportunity to talk, for the language in which they might spea k may be one that cannot be responsive to their needs or interests (215, my emphasis).
42 Warnke, in appealing to our history and interpretive traditions as the ground for our reflections, critical or otherwise, Gadamer tends to play down the extent to which this ground is one of struggle and debate. Hence, he also plays down the degree to wh ich traditions require the solicitation and support of their adherents who cannot, therefore, be seen as simple flickers in the closed circuits of historical life but are active participants in the meaning a tradition comes to possess (1994, 223). What th is shows is that Warnke is a hermeneutic thinker. We see this commitment role of social agents in interpreting (and thus shaping) their own historical traditions. But she is also a social political theorist concerned with practical issues of lived experience, which include the experience of women and the role of gender in social institutions and ecause she finds important points of contact in these two conflicting critiques, but because she is pursuing a project of applied hermeneutics that is attentive to the heterogeneous, practical concerns of marginalized social actors while recognizing the im mense influence of the movement of history on these concerns. This is to say that, unlike Gadamer, Warnke is not concerned with outlining transcendental conditions for the possibility of meaning, but rather with how we can apply this meaning in everyday so cial situations with respect to 21 diverse interpretive stances taken by women position ed in radically dissimilar speaking situations, marked, as she notes, by various racial, ethnic and sexual identifications
43 (intra culturally as well as cross emphasis on difference and plurality sheds a more inclusive light on the hermeneutic concept of historical traditions. I will later argue that this attentiveness to the plurality and complex specificity of lived experiences for the marginalized is essential in articulating an interpretive space tha t is capable of addressing the fractured and multiplicitous experience of selfhood that characterizes the postcolonial subject. In this chapter, I have attempted to offer an overview of Continental views of language, broadly conceived. In doing so, I situ ated these views within the hermeneutic tradition, identified core ideas of hermeneutic discourse as they emerge in the work of Heidegger, Gadamer and Taylor, show how these ideas undermine fundamental assumptions in mainstream Anglophone views of language and articulate how these hermeneutic ideas have been critically engaged by Habermas and Warnke. In the the hermeneutic horizon to more accurately account for the experie nces of women but is largely unable to address the embodied concerns of postcolonial women whose meaningful histories have been forcefully erased by colonialism. I hope to show that this loss of a background of meaning adds a layer of complexity that neith er hermeneutics nor hermeneutic feminism can account for, but which is essential to articulate in order to shed light on the conditions of marginalization affecting intercultural dialogue. However, to get a grip on this problem we first need to examine th e effect of colonialism on language, including its effect on the interpretive possibilities made available in culture. We turn to this issue in the next chapter.
44 CHAPTER TWO : Intercultural Dialogue and the Problem of Colonized Languages: A Feminist A pproach La lengua ha sido testimonio de la opresin y del imperialismo: lo que a finales del siglo XV era una realidad histrica, por ms que la humanidad se lastime, en el siglo XX sigue siendo instrumento de intervencin y de extorsin de las concienc ias. -Manuel Alvar, 1986 -Adrienne Rich, 1966 Within feminist theory, there has often been special attention paid to the discursive space required for women to eff ectively participate in the interpretive processes of culture without having to perform great feats of linguistic and psychic dexterity. Historically, the call to alter, enlarge, and transform this space has centered on the awareness that performing such t asks, while allowing women to engage in public dialogue and moral deliberation through a determinate location of their voice within preexisting social norms and standards, typically comes at the expense of radical differences and complex intersections of m ultiple categories of self identification, including those of race, sex, gender, class and ethnicity (Frye 1983, Jaggar 1998, Lugones 2006, Young 2002, Schutte 1998, Spivak 1988). In this chapter, I would like to
45 extend this project to the complicated epis temic labors performed by postcolonial subjects in the course of intercultural dialogue. My approach will be to address the lived concerns of historically marginalized communities specifically, the pressing need of native Amerindian speakers to negotiat e everyday legal, social, and economic matters within European style institutions through a hermeneutic analysis of the conditions of conversation that underlie such negotiations. As we saw in chapter one, it is by giving a primarily historical account of the barriers involved in coming to an understanding in intercultural conversation that the hermeneutic formal presuppositions of intersubjectivity that are necessary if we are to be able to refer to something in the one objective world, identical for all observers, or to seeking enterprise of rational justifications and validity universal norms, are appropriate for critically evaluating competing traditions, and competing cultural of contradictory cultural experienc es (from inhabiting multiple yet conflicting frames of
46 Taking inventory, in the hist orical sense, is especially difficult in colonial situations because of the intricate heterogeneity of background assumptions (e.g., the Indian, European, Anglo) that often clash with one another, and which, over time, make it difficult to distinguish betw postcolonials is not, on this account, an unproblematic plurality of mixed historical traditions fusing over ti me into a stable, collective framework of interpretive reference: Indian and European/Anglo traditions are, and have been from the very beginning, asymmetrically positioned, with European interpretive practices dominating the former but without successful ly sublating it altogether. 22 Giving a more robust account of the problems and difficulties involved in speaking from colonial situations is thus an important step in not only pluralizing intercultural discourse ethics, but also in legitimating the creative efforts and linguistic tactics of beings caught in the midst of To this end, I am concerned with the following question: If meaningful communication is possibl e only on the basis of a shared socio historical background of communicate and make sense of the world when as is the case with European colonialism these acts and p ractices have been covered over, shattered, or destroyed the socio historical world through language (as understanding) if, as Serge Gruzinski argues in La Colonisat (1988), the resources of expression have
47 themselves been colonized through Western epistemic orthodoxies such as subject/predicate language and the conventions of Western literary practices? Take, for example, the Dominican Domingo de 1570) and Castilian in its structure that it looks almost like a premonition that the Spaniards will transcoding it into alphabetic form, setting down rules of orthography, and Latinizing it (qtd. in Mignolo 1995, 48). The idea that Mayans dwelled in an understanding of language as a rationalized logical structure is an Occidental prejudice that formed t he basis for its subsequent trans codification through the Latin alphabet. This forceful re territorialization of language seems to problematize one of the most pivotal notions in modern discourse ethics: securing the conditions for uncoerced, equitable ar gumentation. Generally, this is taken to mean that one cannot be said to have a conviction if, as conditions like duress, deceit, but also different forms of social injustice and oppression (Habermas 2001, 90). The problem of his constraint as a source of possible oppression would potentially render large social sectors mute. In this respect, the hermeneutic view of language outlined in chapter one offers a much broader conception of human communication (rather than reducing it to the propositional content of human locution) more hospitable to talking about non Western and Native Amerindian notions of communication. Such notions may rely on substantially different
48 relations between self and world, where to speak (in Nahuatl), fo xochicuicuicatinemio nontlatoa ) that is collectively required for a world to be sung into existence (Leon Portilla 1962). In The Singing of the New World ( 2007), Gary Tomlinson carefully points out that The duality of literal and figurative language is all told a Western importation to the Mexica mentality; the indigenous construction of the world connected things to other things in a network of extraordina ry, more than Western complexity and connection a metonymic one, again, involving the interplay of adjoining parts of a whole (41). The hermeneutic view can also address how non lexi cal vocables (a linguistic term for recognizable terms or utterances) in an oral tradition, such as singing, nasal stress or intonated rhythms, can be meaningful in reference to a wider whole. However, there are limitations. While hermeneutic philosophy ca n help contextualize some of the difficulties involved in cross aim of questioning structures of oppression and the homogenous nature of human identity can focus better attention on the c omplex ways European Colonialism impacted Amerindian peoples, especially at the level of language. I. Postcoloniality While there has been general consensus amongst feminist theorists abo ut the existence of cultural double binds and discursive constraints noted earlier, there has also been great debate about how to go about transforming them. One general disagreement
49 has to do with the extent to which radical transformations in the social sphere are possible given the deep historical embeddedness of masculine narratives, texts and practices in Western culture, along with the question of which tactics to employ in response. As feminists, for example, we may want to do more than merely integr ate women into existing social hierarchies or structures of power, which, as Graciella Hierro put it, ity of gender subordination coursing throughout the many interlaced levels of culture, and which keep Attempting changes at this deeper level, however, runs up against the oft cited striking example of this kind of exploitation is through embodying the acts and prac tices of our own language. As Judith Butler explains: going on, that is already saturated with norms, that predisposes us as we seek to aks, one speaks a language that is already speaking, even if one speaks it in a way that is not precisely how it has been spoken before (2004, 69). The idea that radical new possibilities for social change can come about as a result of blic battles for legal or political reform, on this view, have to be met with tempered expectations of what the norms of moral and political discourse will allow to count as change as well as what the grammatical conventions of the syntax used in these s truggles will allow (in terms of possibilities) for describing our grievances and experiences of oppression. Thus, from a feminist perspective, a tension exists between
50 the view of the subject as linguistically constituted and the degree to which we are fr ee to determine meaning and have semantic authority over our own self descriptions. For Luce Irigaray, the sedimentation of masculine norms in language happen to largely patriarchal life world (understood as a signifying economy) is to step outside it and construct a new one to run as a parallel script (1993, 67). While Irigaray retains a view of language on the model of the linguist (where at maximum, we are co constitut ed by language but remain separate from it as tool users), Butler, on the other hand, cannot conceive of a way to ever step outside language because, for her, we are through and through linguistic beings whose identities are no more and no less than the di scursive effects of a historically unique pattern of enacting certain social scripts or of pure body which is not at the same rior to its emergence in a cultural and historical field in which subjects make sense or learn to signify as that ut also no public sphere to try to change, and no identities to reject, take up, reconfigure or defend including those based on gender. 23 As a Foucauldian shaped by both the phenomenological tradition and psychoanalysis, Butler is able to balance the rejec tion of the Cartesian subject with the need to address the concrete experiences of physical and psychic wounds that befall the subject, regardless of the social construction of both the wounded and the wound. The
51 subject may be a fiction, but it is a ficti on we must live to live at all; the point then, is to pursue a radical feminist politics precisely by recognizing that these limitations exist, and that in order to transform them we must first wrestle with the deep imprint they place on what we consider a maneuver through the restrictions placed by language and the sociohistorical construction re configuration and re deploy within the bounds of a given cultural horizon (1990, 145, my emphasis). This means that is totally determined by those constructions: It is always the nexus, the non space of cultural collision, in which the demand to refused, but neither can they be followed in strict obedience. It is the space of this ambivalence which opens up the possibility of a reworking of the very terms by which subjectivation proceeds and fails to proceed (1993, 124, my emphasis). In what is admittedly difficult prose, 24 Butler stradd les the line between hermeneutics and post structuralism, arguing for an expansion of what can possibly be articulated within the bounds of what already can, but with the general aim of expanding the plenum of the possible over time. Specifically, for Butl er, we must start social d by trying to find creative ways of to destabilize their meaning (1990, 145). By disrupting the flow of expectation and fulfillment of meanings, we call attention to the way things normally look or work in
52 their default mode, and which allows the normative feeling of our world to hold. 25 For Butler, performing parodies, inappropriate gestures and cross dressing would all be ways of subverting norms while still relying o n them, and taken as a whole with other ironic hopefulness that the conventional relation a 100, my emphasis). language recontextualizing existing beliefs and attit h this framework, as Christopher ed groups sufficient attention to the beliefs and desires within the larger society that worked and proposal for achieving semantic authority offer valuable resources, we must also perceive the ways that this linguistic silencing is part of the functioning of the dominan to oppress and exclude (2010). The difference between Rorty and Butler, on this particular account, lie
53 foregoing her theoretical framework of subverting norms from within (t hat is, by which I want to make room, is the moment in which a subject a person, a collective asserts a right or entitlement to a livable life when no such prior autho rization exists, when no clearly enabling convention practices (2004, 224, my emphasis). This move gestures towards another equally important tactic for social change in feminist theory, one that has g lived suffering (including the urgency of addressing oppression) and calls for a politics of self determination. That is to say, in the course of our practical dealings and worldly engagements, there may or may n ot be a recognition of the deep, historical imbrication of masculine narratives in culture a recognition which, in either case, is subordinated to 1966). Under thi s approach, the realm emphasized is the practical realm, the one in which women must speak, act, advocate for specific interests, make use of cultural norms, and mobilize politically in the midst of asymmetrical power relations, both within culture and acr oss them. Thus, the primary focus of this approach to feminist inquiry becomes the need to articulate and vocalize what are often very complex, liminal experiences or simply those that cannot be voiced within a dominant cultural discourse in order to addr ess felt harms and seek public redress of wrongs. Under this rubric, effecting social change at deeper interpretive levels may still guide feminist inquiry, but to do this, as Gloria Anzalda argues,
54 we must have very concrete, precisely worded intentions of what we want the world to be like, what we want to be like. We have to first put the changes that we want made into words or images. We have to visualize them, write them, communicate them to other people and stick with committing to those intentions, those goals, those visions. Before any changes can take place you have to say and intend them (2000, 290). However, intending and saying those goals, on the hermeneutic view, requires a background language in which those intentions make sense or matter i n a particular ways a pre continually relates individual parts to a larger whole. Under philosophical hermeneutics, amer says, fundamentally The Politics of Reality (1983) Marilyn Frye has indirectly challenged the universality of hermeneutical understanding from the perspective of subjects who, due to h istorical marginalization in already marginalized on the basis of sex and gender, we fear that if we are not in that web of meaning there will be no meaning: our work wi ll be meaningless, our lives of no value, our accomplishments empty, our ourselves as independent, unmediated beings in the world, then we cannot conceive of ourselves surviving ourselves to make meaning and we have to imagine ourselves capable of (80, my emphasi s). 26 Weaving our own web of meaning is not witho ut precedent in the Continental determination, Jean significations, and new referents in order for the wrong to find an expression and for the
55 capable of producing meaning and having semantic authority over their own self descriptions (1988, 13). According to David they have experienced, and from testifying to it in their own idiom which may not be, or most likely is not admissible accor ding to the regulations used to determine historical In recent years, postcolonial feminisms have contributed to this discussion by highlighting the need for both approaches to social change for novel metaphors that acknowle dge the irreducible imprint of colonial history on our lives and speaking situations, and for new idioms that can speak directly to the social and political emergencies instituted by that history be it through poetry, avant garde art or transgressive socia l protest, to name a few examples (Richard 2004). This view holds that, on the one hand, for women in postcolonial communities the day to day exigencies of social violence often calls for practical strategies of resistance aimed at addressing issues of sur almost invariably implies a relation of structural domination, and a suppression often violent different l evel (2003, 51). As feminists, for instance, we have to think about the ways in speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply itute a layered or doubled sometimes tripled oppression (Spivak 1999, 274, my emphasis). In light of this, one response is to hold that
56 what the subaltern woman needs is a conceptual framework, a language capable of articulating her injuries, needs, and a spirations. The existing discourses or texts of exploitation do not provide such a language: even when they promise explicitly to liberate the subaltern, they obscure the distinctive nature of her oppression; indeed, by purporting to speak for her, they po sition her as mute. In order to articulate her specific exploitation, the subaltern woman must create her own language (Jaggar, 1998, 6). Of help here is the distinction drawn by Ofelia Schutte between two kinds of theoretical models in feminist inquiry: participatory and evaluative (1993, 231). For decision making power abou sketch out a primarily conceptual back to a desire for certain 32). Pluralist evaluative models that also incorporate elements of participatory models have been instrumental in addressing complex issues of communica tive marginalization in Latin America. woman attempted to bring attention to the massacre of over 200,000 Maya Indians at the hands of the Guatemalan Armed Forces by giving a testim onial account of her experiences ( testimonio ) to an ethnologist. David Stoll, an American anthropologist, veracity of her claims. Using a model of speech acts based on a correspondence theory of truth, he cast doubt on the legitimacy of her narrative by pointing to apparent contradictions in the names and ages of her deceased family members, including the
57 manner of death. While Stoll claimed his intent was not to challenge the primacy of that were emerging in the 1980s. The evaluative model is important because, if we look to some of the Western conceptual biases inflected into Amerindian cultural traditions through colonialism as in the assumption that history is a linear nar rative based on logographic recording methods (which privilege literacy) we find that the speaking positions of modern predicatively, with a cultural history marked by relations of power and domination, and which become visible each time the Western However, participatory models are equally important because Mench is not speaking in a vacuum, but from the concrete historical situation of ethnic genocide and violence against indigenous communities. There are many factors that can lead to the communicative marginalization of subaltern subjects, or to an erasure of their cultural differences. For instance, one argument commonly emerges whi ch points to pre Hispanic Mayan codices (hieroglyph historiography. While recent scholarship suggests Mayan scripts are meant to be sung s they seem to enumerate a coherent, meaningful
58 continuity of politically significant events, including the successive names of rulers, priestly casts and local rights of administration, etc. In turn, scholars like Stoll have deduced from this Mesoamerican history a more general, cross cultural standard of rationality assumed to exist below the level of culture, and which can be steadfastly applied to the formal study of objects in empirical research, including ethnography. Yet paradoxically, this argument may reinforce the existence of cultural difference, historical injustice and cross cultural misrecognition in the Latin American context. influential priestly scholarly community known as the Because the aj sustained Mayan religious practice through the composition and interpretation of calendars, Spanish conquerors quickly moved to eradicate both the religious calendars 73, 17). The violent extermination of the aj are significant to the de later, since, as George Lovell and Christopher Lutz point out, i t was a Kaqchikel the loss must have had a serious impact on the accuracy and care with which Maya authors later wrote ttulos memorias and relaciones. The disappearance of professionals such as the aj would surely have affected how Maya oral tradition was passed down through the generations (2001, 171). science, but with the Eurocentric devaluation of proverbial, metaphoric and oral poetic something they accuse Stoll of doing. On their view, any ng to standards similar to those of
59 Western historical science were eradicated when the were massacred. Thus, the development of certain oral the conquest owes much to the fact that, while Spanish conquerors violently forced a functional change in sign systems onto Amerindian linguistic communities, they simultaneously excluded those communities from practices (such as literacy) that would allow them to engage collectively in the inter pretive processes of culture. following the conquest discrepancies and contradictions, questions of authority and representation, the purposeful act of ie century memorias Indians to King Philip II of Spain as well (186). In light of this example, we see how, relations of power and domination already shape their enunciative attempts: their very language and narrative practices are a product of this history of domination. 27 unencumbered by a problematic cultural heritage (or histories of domination) allo ws us to critique contemporary hermeneutics on a number of fronts. First, the historical tradition that constitutes the hermeneutic web of meanings is largely monolithic, invariably rooted in a framework of Greek, Judeo Christian and Enlightenment assumpt
60 latter brand of one dimensional hermeneutics results in a failure to grasp the extent to w hich intercultural communication already entails forms of discursive violence because the complex and heterogeneous situations of colonial subjects are never addressed. Second, philosophical hermeneutics as it manifests in the work of Heidegger and Gadame r is largely concerned with the broad question of how meaning is constituted and sustained within the horizon of Western history. The particular social and political oppressions that emerge when the Western horizon covers over an indigenous, Amerindian hor izon are overlooked. Thus, philosophical hermeneutics, as Richard Bernstein notes, fails to offer an adequate conceptual understanding of what stands in the way, blocks, and distorts authentic cultural understanding in the contemporary world. Gadamer is n ot primarily a social and political thinker. We will not find in his hermeneutics a developed notion of how power, force, and violence actually work in contemporary societies (1996, 39). 28 In the remainder of this chapter, I want to explore specific instan ces of what understanding by turning to colonial history and the colonization of Amerindian languages. In so doing, I hope to contribute to this conversation by giving a more robust account of the complexities involved in speaking through cultural situations colored by colonial experience, and which bear a strong (yet largely unacknowledged) imprint in the difficult epistemic labors performed by marginalized postcolonial subjec ts, and women in
61 particular, in the course of intercultural dialogue. II. Modern Alphabetic L iteracy and the Conquest of the Americas In his acclaimed The Darker Side of the Renaissance : Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization (1995), Walter Migno lo gives a detailed account of how European powers conquered vast Amerindian territories through the imposition of foreign categories of knowledge, of which the most important were Western literacy and the alphabetic technologies that supported it. For Mig nolo, by colonizing Amerindian languages through a threefold process of alphabetization, orthographic systematization, and translation into E uropean dictionaries, sixteenth century missionary ethnographers displaced the primacy of speech and orality in Mes writing, in Amerindian societies, were not related and were not conceived in the same b 298). In light of this the imposition of Greco Roman alphabetic scripts as the basis for speech communication made it difficult for surviving Amerindians to express, to use one example, embodied relations of mutuality and interwoven reciprocity with their life world, as these relations often had to be performed or sung, and could not be reduced to the conventions of Western scribal technology. In fact, the Nahua scholar James Lockhart has remarked that the very notion of a era Nahuatl speakers, who, when forced to abandon native b 296). The anthropologist Mark King has reinforced this
62 point in other Amerindian languages, adding that the c alendar day names in Quich social acti ons to This kind of cyclical, woven reciprocity between language and the human life world was insofar graphic systems of communication that are qualitatively different from alphabetic (Quispe Agnoli, 292). Deeply infl Socits Indigenes et Occidentalisation dans le Mxique Espagnole, xvme xviiime Sicles to the study of colon ized languages in the Americas (Castro Klaren 1998). 29 Prior to this, the imposition of peninsular Spanish and the suppression of native Amerindian languages were primarily understood through a political paradigm, one rooted in contemporary analyses of medi eval political philosophy and the role of language in imperial state the Spanish Catholic monarch in 1492: Soon Your Majesty will have placed her yoke upon many barb arians who speak outlandish tongues. By this, your victory, these people shall stand in a new need:
63 the need for the laws the victor owes to the vanquished, and the need for the language we shall bring with us (qtd. in Humphreys, 313). Language, on this to use Antonio 30 because it could unify and impose a certain regulative authority over large groups of people on par with centralized forms of governance or religion. It was a tool to be u decades leading up to 1492, the year Spain became a unified state, testified to the success conquest ( Reconquista ) of the Iberian penin sula drew to a close with the expulsion of the last of the Arab settlements (dating from 711 AD), and one way to unite the remaining loose federation of states, comprising of Aragonese, Catalan, Leonese, and Basque speakers, was through a common tongue: Ca stilian (Mar Molinero 2000, 1 of peninsular languages was thus bound up with the construction of a national identity for political gain. Given this history, beginning in the nineteenth century, scholarly interest in A merindian languages revolved around the issue of cultural sov ereignty and the recovery of a Pre C olumbian heritage in decolonization efforts. colonization insofar as he highlig hts the epistemic consequences of imperial language colonial project at large (1995, ix). 31 He draws from a wide variety of sources, most notably cultural anthropology, Latin American social theory, postcolonial historiography, and ancient literary studies, all in an attempt to articulate a framework that can account for interpretive differences covered over by colonialism. He terms this approach
64 As Ofelia Schutte explains, Mignolo uses this notion to analyze the effects of Spanish conquest and colonization in a non Eurocentric d Eurocentric linear thinking with an interpretive counterstance in which concepts of time and space held by various indigenous societies could be cognitively mapped in a type of side by side relation to those of the Iberians, rather than subordinating the former to the latter. In this view, the adoption of a pluritopic hermeneutics performs a valuable role in allowing for a decolonization of the interpretive methods by which one may come to understand indigenous thinking and cultural practices (as they wou ld no longer be subsumed by an alien imaginary and symbolic order) (2010, 318). The Darker Side of the Renaissance between th e two cultures by using their description of themselves as a universal frame for (1995, 96). What is not often clear from the beginning, however, is the unique statu s of European colonialism amongst other forms of cultural imperialism or territorial expansion. That is to say, the question arises as to whether or not this unilateral cultural projection is in fact a general attribute of religious and political expansion projects throughout world history whether it happens to come at the helm of a Charlemagne, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, or in our case, Hernn Cortz. How is European colonialism different than, say, the Norman conquest of England? The Norman invas ion, after all, resulted in the linguistic imposition of Old Norse and Anglo French phonetic variants, sufficient to transform Old English into what the medieval scholar Kate Wiles known cases of cultural imposition within Mesoamerica, most notably through the Aztec domination of the region and the imposition of tribute regulations on the Tarascans and Tlaxcalans? For Gayatri Spivak as for other historiographers of the colonized world, the
65 di terra nullis, nk slate uninscribed earth that is the condition of possibility of the worldin g of a world generates added consequence of alienating Amerindian peoples from their own self identifications things, a negative interpretation of themselves under the subordinated side of imperial binaries (as in master/slave, civilized/uncivilized, Spaniard/Indian, etc.) (ibid). Under the imperial rubric, Amerindians were seen, at best, as noble savages in th e primitive stages of cultural development (but capable of either quasi or full rationality, without meaningful cultural indicators, but with the minimal rationality for evangelization. The French naturalist Georges Louis Leclerc (1707 1788) expressed the natural Americans were, or still are, savages; Mexicans and Peruvians have been s o recently brought under orderly government that they should not be considered an in Zavala, 333). This position is not unique to Leclerc, and became particularly en
66 Philosophy of History (1837), the destruction of Native Amerindian cult ure is as these are gradually eroded through contact with more advanced nations which have egel contends: We do have information concerning America and its culture, especially as it had developed in Mexico and Peru, but only to the effect that it was a purely natural culture which had to perish as soon as the spirit approached it. America has a lways shown itself physically and spiritually impotent, and still shows itself so. For after the Europeans had landed there, the natives were gradually destroyed by the breath of European activity. Even the animals show the same inferiority as the human be for education. Their inferiority, in all respects, even in stature, can be seen in every particular (ibid). 32 The Latin American philosopher Enrique Dussel has commented at length on th e deep complicity between European modernity and colonization efforts in America and e notion that native inhabitants are without a properly recognizable history or meaningful framework of reference can also be seen in the voluminous records of ethnographic correspondences between state emissaries and European monarchs. 33 Consider the firs t letter to be sent from Brazil. On May 1, 1500, Pedro Vaz de Caminha, then stationed at Porto Seguro de Vera Cruz in the Andes, sent a letter to King Manuel I of Portugal detailing his impression of native Amerindians. He writes: They seem to me people o f such innocence that if one could understand them and they us, they would soon be Christians, because they do not have or understand any belief s certain these people are good and of pure simplicity, and there can easily be stamped upon them whatever belief we wish to give them (my emphasis).
67 European colonization is unique because, by contrast, the violent encounters between Carthage and Rome, Aztec ritual warfare with Tlaxcalans, the Ottoman incursion into Byzantium, Mongol control of Eurasia and the Norman conquest of England can all be situated within a larger framework of pre conquest cultural contact, whether through territorial wars, relig ious excursion, commercial trade, piracy, or migratory settlement. allusions in epic narratives. Amerindians had no such cultural record of white Europeans. Although Aztecs and Tlaxcalans (to use one example) and cultural beliefs as inferior, the assumption never went so far as to hold that the other no be do with providing a requisite justification for imperial settlement in the first place. In The Lettered City (1996) he explores this notion by analyzing the relationship between Western literacy (as a stratifying, privileged practice) and urban planning/architectural of the city as the embodiment of soci their visions of the orderly city; the tool which helped them achieve this was an administrative bureaucracy ruled by restricted access to the official instruments of old cities of Europe, where the stubbornly material sediments of the past encumbered the but it found a unique opportunity in the virgin territory of an
68 2). In either case, this is a uniquely recurrent theme in the colonization of the problem to the forefront. He finds powerful evidence for this in a 1529 letter addressed to Phillip II, where Fray Pedro de Gante remarked of the difficulty in teaching the gospel to without any kind of enlightenment (era gente sin escriptura, sin letras, sin caracteres y sin lumbre de cosa such and such letters (esta lengua carece de tales letras) grammars and missionary ethnographies, to which we now turn (1995,46). categorized through language, a system of referential signs connected by l ogical existing relationship between knowledge, language, and reality in pre Hispanic America (Zavala 1989, 323). Principles of interwoven reciprocity and embodiment gov erned the with an internal subject and verb (2001,11). Assigning a formal gramma r to Nahuatl included in every substantive (Tomlinson, 29). For example, the noun tenep antlamoquetzani roughly translates as "one who puts himself between those who are
69 quarreling in order to calm them" (Maffie 2007, 4). 34 Speakers of Indo European languages have great difficulty grasping this braided complexity between spoken language and th e proximate world. This is largely due to underlying Western assumptions about the nature of the world and the self that are, in turn, encoded in subject predicate grammar. The most prominent of these assumptions is the subject/object distinction. In Nahua tl, no such distinction holds, and can be seen in the total absence of third person (singular and plural) subject prefixes and the agglutinating restrictions placed on the first person subject prefix. This means that any ded with broader concepts with no way of stressing the independence of the singular subject (likewise, there is no differentiation between the is account, designating an instrumental relationship between Interestingly, whereas third person subject prefixes do not exist in Nahuatl, third person possessive pref ixes of nouns appear, but as unstressed parts of nouns. This owes to the conceptual reciprocity between spoken language and the Nahua life world. That is that inhabi calli i that in it), as (in both gender and
70 number) (Lockhart 2007, 1 51). This is reflective of a communitarian ethos where every being is a relational being already woven into a reciprocal stance with one another, and where speech communication is more reflective of, what Marti Much of the grammatical ambiguity in classical Nahuatl and other contact era Amerindian languages can be traced to the fact that reality itself was understood as trained ethnographers and grammarians, of course, had a radically different background understanding of language 1799) oft cited Recherches Philoso phiques sur les Amricains puisse compter au primacy of reason and Enlightenment egalitarian ideals began to stir intellectual debates in Europe surrounding the adequacy of this view. In his Historia Antigua de Mexico (1780), for exa mple, the Jesuit historian Francisco Xavier Clavigero (1731 1787) responds: The languages of America, says M. de Pauw, are so limited, and so scarce in words, that it is impossible to express any metaphysical idea in them. In no one of those languages can affirming, that the languages of America are so poor, that they cannot express a metaphysical idea (an opinion M. de Pauw has learned from M. Condamine). Time, says this philosopher treating of the lan guages of America, duration, space, being, substance, matter, body, all these words, and many others, have no equivalents to them in their languages; and not only the names of metaphysical beings, but also those of moral beings cannot be expressed, unless imperfectly and express such concepts as matter, substance, accident, and the like; but it is equally so that no language of Asia, or Europe had such words before the Greeks began to
71 refine them and abstract their ideas, and to create new terms to express By repositioning Europe on a historical continuum tracing back to ancient Greece, and the Greek metaphysical tradition, it would seem Clavigero mi ght move towards a recognition of basic cultural differences between Europe and the Americas, one that is based on regional histories and the contingent philosophical traditions that emerge from them. Instead, the long standing assumption of an Indigenous terra nullis is applied to Amerindian conceptual frameworks in order to superimpose European values and ideas having invented concepts onto Amerindian languages: We, on the contrary, affirm, that it is not easy to find a language more fit to treat metaphysical subjects th an the Mexican: as it would be difficult to find another which abounds so much as it in abstract terms; for there are few verbs in it from of the Romans; and but few substantive or adjective no uns from which are not formed abstracts my emphasis). Born in Veracruz, Mexico, to a Spanish state emissary and educated in the Mexican provinces of Puebla and Morelos, Cla Historia is important on account expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. Part of his argument against the French naturalists (e.g., Georges Louis Leclerc, Cornelius d e Pauw, Charles Marie de la Condamine) in fact without the proper background cultural knowledge for their ethnographic claims (199, 357). In particular, he accuses de Pauw as representative of these views, of
72 misunderstanding the nature of Amerindian Amoxtli and Tacu (painted codices), which de Paw saw as character less drawings far inferior to Egyptian hieroglyphic writing (373 74). Differentiating himself from the natura of those paintings is not difficult to any person who has knowledge of the manner in which the Mexicans usually represented things, the characters which they made use of, and their language; but to M. De Pauw they would be as unintelligible as those of the himself as well versed in Amerindian culture, less by formal study than by first hand, practical experience and immersio n in Nahua language. This, then, does not explain why, despite decades of cultural immersion, Clavigero still ascribes European linguistic habits fying metaphysical and moral ideas, which are understood by the Nahuatl and Roman verb structures particularly in light of his first hand experienc e with Nahuatl speakers the conceptualization (i.e., culture specific sense that it requires a series of cultural pre understandings that illumi nate all human practices (be it words, actions, etc.) in specific, meaning laden ways (Mignolo, 1995,
73 lexical bearers of moral meaning is a strong indicator of this, as it ties him to a Western philosophical tradition where self conscious reflexivity is a prerequisite for correct judgment (but also for achieving moral goodness), all the while situating him within the broader norms of eighteenth century European politic al discourses (as in the relation between sovereign/subject and the construction of statehood). Given the importance of background contexts, the philosopher James Maffie has noted the extent to which contact era indigenous thought reflected metaphysical a nd epistemic principles alien to post Socratic Western thought. He attempts to remedy this situation by giving a detailed account of Pre Columbian Aztec and Andean thought using a mix of pre conquest primary sources, archeological remains, and post conques t ethnohistories. To avoid the trappings of a rational reconstruction of history, Maffie employs a critical methodology for triangulating between these sources, noting the difficulty and limitations involved in such a project (2010, 9). He stops short, how ever, of an equally ethnocentric bias that claims non Western peoples cannot have categories of knowledge that bear resemblance to Western philosophy, or that only westerners have asked the question of the meaning of Being (Heidegger 1962). Without claimin g philosophical vocabulary as trans historic, universally valid categories of analysis, Maffie Columbian societies contained individuals who reflected critically and systematically upon the nature of reality, human existence, knowl edge, According to Maffie, Aztec (Nahua) and Inca (Andean) philosophies were guided
74 by prin ciples of reciprocity, equilibrium, balance and mutual exchange that presided over a flux filled universe where humans always hung precariously in the balance. Amerindians saw themselves Florentine Codex as ba tension and the oscillating relations of balanced reciprocity surrounding it that make human existence po ssible in the first place (2010, 11). processes rather than perduring objects or substances are ontologically fundamental. Activity, motion, flux, time, change, and transformation are 3, my emphasis). These equilibrating animated (yet non Teotl Camaquen Camaquen (also called cam ac upani or amaya ), like a Spinozistic camaquen took the form of non hierarchical, non exclusionary, reciprocal dualities. For important caveat that one side of the binary i s never normatively privileged or overvalued but never exclude or contradict one another a reciprocal concept that saturated all aspects o f Pre Columbian culture, from double faced textiles,
75 technologies. Like the Andean camaquen for the Nahua, teotl is the vivifying element in the neither being nor non becoming Teotl neither is nor is not : Teotl becomes as unordered nor disordered 14). Moreover, just as camaquen takes the form of reciprocal dualisms, teotl nepantla Nepantla can be b roadly conceived as a processive totality that brings balance to influence, as in a ceaseless state of nepantlatli (the middled balance between two endpoints, where anythin 35 yet one, living in a constant rhythmic arn accomplis hed weavers, to weave together the various forces and tensions in the cosmos and in their lives into a well 19). This metaphysical ambiguity helps explain why language, for the Nahua, could
76 never be a purely referential affair (in the sense of subject object representational over) the contextual embeddedness of Nahua thought. To clari fy, sake, correct description, or accurate representation. The aim of cognition is walking in balance upon the slippery earth, and epistemologically good ( cualli ) cognition is th at which promotes this aim... Nahua philosophy conceives of truth in terms of authenticity, genuineness, and well rootedness in and non referential disclosing of teotl not in terms of correspondence, aboutness, or representation (contra most Western philos requires a non binary mode Portilla 1963, 75). Artistic activity generally, but especially singing and poetry rather than advancing of discursive arguments is the tru est most authentic way of singers and artists who unconceal teotl through metaphorical speech and artistic image. Finally, because teotl is unordered, betwixt and between, etc., human beings are unable to fully comprehend teotl (Maffie 2010, 19 20, my emphasis). Thus, we are now in a position to see how Mesoamerican writing systems, as one aspect of Amerindian languages, reflected key themes in pre Columbian thought. In stark contrast to chirographic, Western literary practices, Amerindians wrote without words. Instead, they employed nonalphabetic scripts such as the Andean knotted strings called khipus (also quipu, or quippus), Mayan hieroglyphs, Aztec codices (narrative pictographs) and book like amoxtli (also tacu or vuh for Mayans), and many other forms of textiles, including the woven tocapu and wooden keros With the exception of Mayan hieroglyphs, by and large, modern Western linguists do not recognize khipus codices tacu and textiles like tocapu aides mmoire 1963; Ong 1988, 83; Lounsbury 1989, 203). Mayan hieroglyphs, which currently date
77 from as fa r back as the third century B.C., have fared better on account of their logographic qualities; because they are made up of pictorialized logograms (with attempts at transcribi ng spoken language into fixed form, and could thus, like Egyptian hieroglyphs, fit into the traditional classificatory schema for the development of Western writing (Houston 2004b, 352). The idea that Amerindian writing systems were at embryonic or early stages of chirographic development which, given enough time and favorable conditions might have blossomed into a robust semiotic system of standardized markings (with a fixed phonetic value and accompanying rule system for correct combinatorial use) is an occidental prejudice, and a deep one at that. In Writing Without Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes (2004), Elizabeth Hill Boone and Walter Mignolo trace this evolutionary model to the privileging of alphabet based chirographic l iteracy in post Homeric Greece and its stage sequence for the development of writing, which he explained as progressing from pictures to pictorial symbol s, verbal signs, syllabic signs, and alphabetic writing. Offering a critique of such a model is especially germane to qui
78 literali sermone carent ) which corresponds to their mutual idiomatic language, as is Latin Bartolom de Las Casas (1484 (1962) influential definition of wri ting as more than any semiotic mark with culturally when, along with invented whereby a writer could determine the exact words that the reader would decoding of Inca in formation in woven tocapu including the use of complex mathematical algorithms (even game theory) for breaking The point Migno lo tries to make throughout the course of his writings on Amerindian itself i.e., it is not learned but inhabited and that at the time of the conquest, Spaniards root ed in their own codes failed to see that a fully fleshed out, intricate code The missionaries believed that Amerindians did not have a language sufficient to explain the mysterie s of the Holy Catholic Faith, but the missionaries did not consider the possibility that their own language was equally insufficient to account for Amerindian matters, among them the Amerindian uses and conceptualization of painting, carving, and weaving ( e.g. writing) and the role that these played in society (2004 a 225). topical in their thinking. In addition, Mignolo also wants to say that there are some codes that, because
79 of their histor y, notions of language, reality, the self, etc., lend themselves to this kind of perspectival attitude, but that this is something that must itself be pointed out (as the monolithic process of colonization can obscure the complexities of our hermeneutic si tuation). Trying to decipher a tocapu or other Andean textiles according to a set of modern H istoria General del Per (c.1590), we find such an attempt to provide a background patterns, with alphabetic technologies as a model. However, there is very little reason to t hink Amerindian writing systems would those systems in a particular kind of intelligibility supported metaphysical and epistemic principles of deep, embodied recip rocity and ambiguity alien to post Socratic thought, and the disambiguating, alphabetic technologies that accompanied it. For instance, take the practice of narrative pictography, as seen in Nahua tacu (also amoxtli ). These were accordion like sheets of fo lded bark or deer skin on which paintings conveying a story were recorded using (mostly) red and black ink drawn from plants and flowers. Tacu can had a second, equal ly important sense of attentive listening (or that one listens) (King, 2004, 105,127). This draws us to the reciprocal binary of giving/receiving that the practice of tacu their
80 most, dimly) conveyed by humans through the polysemous nature of song This is why (107). We know, by contrast, that the practice of silent reading, as a process of individual interiorization, was a late byproduct of Western modern alphabetic li teracy (Havelock 1963, Ong 1982). However, as Stephen Houston argues, the Pre Columbian date, been narrowly understood by Western scholars as a simple consequence of orality, and the burdens of memorization oral mnemonics (like repetition, rhythm, meter, cadence, improvisation and bodily emphasis) helped relieve (2004 a 30 31): It is a of writing. For Houston, this is misleading; the constant comparisons with Classical Greece have made it (33). The idea that, contra Western epistemology, truth had to be sung does not then come as a result of the oral technologies involved in certain types of Mesoamerican scripts, but from the intricate backdrop of a socio historical life world that gave r ise to them. This helps explain why tacu, as a nepantla process, can encompass a range of meanings associated with writing, paining, listening, knowing, singing, but also life in general that one is meaning of words through semiotic marks, but to express the various elements of Aztec
81 or Inca culture in a way harmonious with their background assumptions. Columbian thought helps us recogniz e how painting, as a Mesoamerican script, was no different from weaving or knot tying in quippus, or other texile based scripts that told narratives without an established independent code and that, in fact, to read these writings aloud, one had to already know the story in the first place. Western literacy, on the other hand, presupposes that a reader, at the start of a sentence, has no knowledge of its contents, with the book, rather than the person being the site of knowledge and authority (Mignolo 1995 ). embodiment that Western literacy often neglects, and which is particularly important for understandi ng the more pernicious aspects of the colonization of Amerindian languages. Typically, the embodied relation between literacy and the body is taken to mean that through hand gestures, through spacing, and through the clothing worn, as well as embodiment in Mesoamerican scripts. Native Amerindians such as Mixtecs, he writes, use corporeal pr ocesses, the functions of organs, and bodily products as models for other processes, functions, and products [like weaving or painting]. Thus, when producing a history, or a description of a ritual, or an account of how settlements may be related to one an other, the Mixtec scribe was likely to focus on how the event, or practice, or relationship could be expressed in terms of the interpenetrate to such an extent that they cannot be s eparated from one another (95 96).
82 maintained a balanced network of reciprocity. All of this changed with the introduction of which we can guess was one taken for granted by Castilian men of letters is that it 56). An alphabet (from the Greek letters alpha, beta derived from Semitic aleph beth ) can be understood as an organized, fixed system of s the language, through which it is possible to record in writing whatever the user wishes to Nebrija (1441 than a trace or figure by means of which latticed associations between body, language, culture and the voice ( as qtd. in Mignolo 1995, 42). The most important rec ord we have today concerning the alphabetization of 1579) Relacin de las Cosas de Yucat n (1566), wherein Landa transcodes isolated Mayan glyphs into letters in the Latin alphabet, with the appending rem ark: These people made use of certain characters or letters, with which they wrote in their books their ancient matters and their sciences, and by these and by drawings and by certain signs in these drawings, they understood their affairs and made others understand them and taught them. We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which there were not to be seen superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree, and w hich caused them much affliction. Of their letters I will
83 (169). alphabet (at least for A, B,C) was taken up by the Franciscan Diego Valdz (1533 1589) in his monumental Rhetorica Christiana (1579), which served as a teaching tool for Friars teaching Nahua speakers their own language in Romanized form. But it was not enough to teach natives individual letters, for they might employ indigenous principles and habits to combine them in particular ways the Friars could not control. There needed as they wrote, and wrote as they s which Arte de la Lengua Mexicana (1645), Fray Alonso Vocabulario en Lengua Castellana y Mexicana (1571), and Fray Domingo de Santo Toms Grammatica o Arte de la Len gua General de los Indios de los Reynos del Peru (1560) were among the first books to be printed in the New World. Their orthographic rules introduced subject predicate grammar, the use of punctuation, word spacing, all in the linear conventions of Wester n literary practices, with economies of writing suited to fit the European page rather than deerskin, yarn, bark, or wood. In later stages, the sedimentation of modern alphabetic literacy also became a fulcrum around which the history of ideas could be i mplanted in the New World, from Renaissance humanist thought to the premises of the European enlightenment. For instance, the philologist and statesman Andrs Bello (1781 1865) (who, incidentally, guided Alexander Von Humboldt during his expedition to Lati n America), produced a
84 dependable expression of laws, arts, and sciences, and of everything discussed by wise keeping with the ethos of nineteenth III. The Im pact of Colonized Languages: Cultural Alterity and Liminality One of the greatest impacts of the colonization of Amerindian languages has been the closing off of discursive alternatives in culture, as well as the inability to give voice to contradictory e xperiences resulting from the loss of prior cultural contexts. In the twentieth century, postcolonial and U.S. third world women (i.e., postcolonial women situated in North America, particularly in North South borderland regions) began attempting to descri be this difficult experience of being multicultural in a social context inferior in relation to Anglo European cultural norms (Anzalda 1987, Sandoval 2000). This hybrid, p ostcolonial self had the added burden of reconciling these different strands her different cultural backgrounds: ant culture, the woman of respond, her face caught between los intersticios the spaces between the different worlds she inhabits (Anzalda 1987, 42). This experience of bei
85 philosophers like Mariana Ortega, who see a need to better articulate the complex experiences of the multicultura powerful (yet usually unacknowledged) imprint on the lives we live as postcolonial women of color (2008, theoretical frameworks and epistemologies ought Ortega calls attention to blind spots in traditional hermeneutical conceptions of selfhood that posit a predom inantly stable narrative self identity (ibid). For Ortega, such accounts fail to do justice to the narrative life of multicultural and subaltern subjects because, as she explains, one of the main sources of anguish for this multicultural self is precisely that, Dasein it does not have a sense of all the norms and practices of the new context which it now inhabits. Thus it does not relate to the world primarily in terms of know how, [as] Heidegger claims that we do (2001, 9). The point Ortega wants to make is that postcolonial subjects dwell in an understanding of things marked, not by continuity, but by discontinuity, rupture, and uneasiness, even whi le performing practices that for the dominant group are for the most to emphasis). Ortega uses the example of ordinary practices like eating to show how easily the hermene utic notion of pre reflective understanding breaks down for postcolonial subjects, adding that what is at stake in her analysis is something far more important than deciding which utensils to use for meals (or whether to use them at all). In this regard, O
86 ding how the colonization of Amerindian languages forcibly covered over a range of interpretive possibilities in culture can have a therapeutic element for postcolonial subjects feeling voiceless or dislocated from the burden of inhabiting multiple cultura l contexts. Take the experience of gender, for example. In Ancient Maya Gender Identity and Relations Karen Bassie being was considered to be both male and female, with the right side of the b ody male a concept that can be found throughout Mesoamerica and in Uto earlier description of balanced oppositions and reciprocal dualisms in Pre Columbian female but not both (1987, 41). As a chicana (Mexican American) lesbian woman growing up at the Texas Mexico border, Anzalda suffered deep prejudices and or six months of the year and had periods, and for the other six months, you were a man and continuation and resilience of (at least some aspects of) the male/female principle, so recounts. But when we recall that European colonialism imported a system of
87 exclusionary logic (which would include the laws of identity and non contradiction) that wa s reinforced through, among other things, gendered articles (in Spanish) and subject the resources of expression necessary to describe and do justice to such experienc e are no longer Instead, due to the logical rules built into the language we use to describe experience, what falls outside these categories or cannot be assimilated through them becomes devalued as Other, as outside the norm. Thus, we s ee here a vivid example but asymentrical contexts of reference postcolonials must inhabit, and which often lead to els From a feminist perspective, there are at least three important consequences of the colonization of Amerindian languages. First, it closed off avenues for thinking openly and ea ) that is already embedded in a network of woven reciprocities and concrete relations with others, and moral insight. Second, the colonization of native resources of expression obfuscated the ways in which Pre Columbian thought made room for ambiguity and ambivalence, both with respect to reality and identity. (Again, with respect to gender, one did not have to power inequities alerts us to the fact that modern alphabetic literacy in the Americas disenfranchised women by socially legitimating certain knowledges over others as
88 alphabetic system was the one employed by the colonial administration in all of its b 299) From this last point, we see there is an important social and political dimens ion that coincides with the linguistic silencing brought on by alphabetization. Amerindians had to be taught back their own language after it had been transcoded to the Latin ndians. Modern alphabetic literacy after all, was also a prerequisite for citizenship in the constitutions of early Latin American states (Mar Molinero 2000, 33). 36 Finally, all three of these concerns unite in discussing post conquest intercultural dialog ue. Taken together, these histories have led to a situation where modern Amerindians always inhabit a pre practices under lying meaningful communication are themselves rooted in contexts of oppression. The quickness with which alphabetic, Romanized Nahuatl took root among some Amerindians is an important clue in this direction. Leon Portilla estimates that by 1528, less than within thirty protect xx). 37 And yet, it is important to stress that the few Amerindians that became adept at using alphabetic Nahuatl were almost all male, as colonialism imposed a new system of gender binaries and restrictions that differ significantly form Pre Columbian conceptions of gender growing into an
89 understanding of those practices, of dwelling meaningfully in a way that allows one to make sense era and modern Amerindians, to use one example, becoming adept at Spanish was akin to becoming adept at Latin kill us Portilla, 161). In light of this analysis, we ought to gather a deeper sense of the complicated factors invol ved in North South dialogue, including an awareness of the difficult epistemic and interpretive labors marginalized postcolonial subjects must often perform without any reciprocal acknowledgment of those efforts. We can now begin to engage these epistemic and interpretive difficulties more rigorously. We will do this in the next chapter by looking at the account of language offered by poststructuralist philosopher res onates to the postcolonial conception of selfhood that is always fragmented and experience of discursive ruptures and breakdowns of meaning that play such a crucia l role in postcolonial life and are, as I have argued, often neglected in the hermeneutic account of language.
90 CHAPTER THREE : Theories of Polyphonic Signification: Kristeva, Bakhtin and Beyond If the overly constraining and reductive meaning of a language made up of universals causes us to suffer, the call of the unnamable, on the contrary, issuing from those borders where signification vanishes, hurls us into the void of a psychosis that appears henceforth as the solidary reverse of our univers e saturated with interpretation, faith, or truth. I attempt [to] shed light on a number of borderline practices of meaning and signification unities and ultimate relations that weave an identity for the subject, or sign, or sentence. Kristeva, Desire in Language preface, x important alternative to the hermeneutic model, drawing on both it s strengths and limitations for application in postcolonial, North South contexts. This suggestion is based Andersseins ] in hermeneutical self understanding, whether as a culturally diffe atopon hermeneutics, as we saw in chapter one, places the emphasis on how everyday understanding is made possible through a continuity of meaning often by bridging horizons meaning frequently lapses, ruptures, or is breached by pre predicative bodil y drives and
91 desires. Thus, while the hermeneutic model is enormously important for problematizing restrictive notions of linguistic practice prevalent in the colonization of Amerindian languages uage seems to talking about issues of complex communication and the fragmentary, disunifying experiences that frequently befall postcolonial subjects, and which Mariana Orte ga has (2008b, 65). To this end, after drawing important (but often neglected) parallels between and that of the Russian post formalist thinker, Mikhail Bak htin, I expand Revolution in Poetic Language Lastly, in carefully situating her work historically through the paradigms of Eastern European and French intellectual history including her own formative experiences in Bulgaria theories are helpful in rehabilitating static notions of language and subjectivity in structural linguistics and psychoanalytic discourse theory, they are stil l too indebted to Western developmental and linguistic frameworks and thus not well suited for addressing questions of communicative rupture and marginalization that arise out of the particularity of the Latin American experience with European colonization I. The Particularity of Language in Postcolonial Latin America To begin, as we saw in chapter two, in Latin America the philosophical problem
92 of language and its capacity to describe experience emerges in ways different from the global North due to the i mpact of colonialism on Amerindian conceptual frameworks and linguistic systems. This is due to the fact that both experience and the means with which ce that is already steeped in the discursive patterns of modern European and imperial history. On this view, it was not language itself (understood hermeneutically) but rather the underlying rationale and Occidental prejudices towards language the view th at language, as we saw in preceding chapters, is an impartial, representational system bound by rules of subject predicate grammar This particular pre understanding of language, however, was itself not arbitrary or unique to the momentous political developments taking shape in fourteenth and fi fteenth century Spain. Rather, it unfolded over the course of almost two millennia of Greco Roman, European social acts and practices originating in Athens in the fifth century B.C., and which over time, formed the basis of particular ways of seeing the wo rld, of making sense of experience through a collaborative network of metaphysical assumptions and conceptual biases. These biases which include subject predicate language, Western models of human agency (as atomistic individualism), a linear conception o f time ( chronos ), an understanding of narrative life based on self reflexive introspection, Gregorian calendrics (which eliminate the night sky as a reference point), non reciprocal
93 hierarchical binaries, and instrumental forms of rationality, to name just a few did more than simply cover over the interpretive traditions of Mesoamerican communities. Indeed, if, following the hermeneutic tradition, we understand language as the background set of shared cultural assumptions that make meaning possible to begin with, we see that by violently forcing beings into a shared linguistic situation that is not theirs, colonialism created a powerful rift between Amerindian lived experience and the adequacy of a newly imported Western language to describe such experience. perseverance of some aspect of pre conquest, Amerindian culture, against which the ural collision or clash. This rift owes much to the fact that modern Latin Georg Gadamer calls Wirkungsgeschichte ], the meaningful texts and social narratives that constitute th eir historical lives. In Latin America, these narratives were inscribed by force. This was done, to use one example, through the active colonization of the workday. By imposing such things as the regulatory mechanisms of Western time, market driven stand ards of productivity, pastoral herding practices, gendered labor norms, and the instrumental relation between nature and man, colonial discourse use of force that mad e it possible for residual traces of Amerindian culture to persist. As Gayatri Spivak has argued in A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), since this grafting of foreign practices took place on soil historically cultivated for other practices,
94 other har ontological basis for the preservation of cultural practices rather than their total extinction. Although Spivak does not expand on this, the underlying assumption is that the role of violence in the development of historical traditions is a game changer, because it fundamentally affects the very ability of those traditions to sediment themselves and settle into the kind of familiarity necessary to operate as In a broader context, historical examples like these help to explain why Spivak the rendering (im)possible of (another) narrative e form of forcibly foreclosed cultural possibilities (1999, 6, my emphasis). The tendency to see speech acts as graphematic, for example, foreclosed the articulative range and potential of the Andean quippus, the Navajo blanket, as well the narrative mode of performance based history, as in the Sinaloan Danza del Venado 38 In our case, the fact that colonial orthography did not mark tone, breath, or even nasalization of spoken Nahuatl forcibly recoding the highly polymorphous phonology through the single, f ixed phonetic meanings assigned to each letter of the Roman alphabet shows how western conceptual biases supported the imperial project in the Americas through restrictive notions of linguistic practice. Due to their rootedness in Greco Roman semiotic an d graphic traditions, the modern Western pre understandings of language could not accommodate the polysemous nature of Mixtec lexical structure nor the related cultural understanding of speech
95 communication as a nepantla process one that, as Maffie explain speaking subject as a complex, heterogeneous process that is always flexive and precariously positioned (Maffie 2010, 9). On this view, by displacin g the primacy of speech, orality, and non binary modes of expression in Mesoamerican culture, the cultural concealment of speech communication as a nepantla process had a profound and lasting impact for modern Amerindians. In particular, one place this imp act emerges is in experience in communicative exchanges with members of dominant cutlures. For these reasons, in the preceding chapters, I have tried to make evident the cl aim that speech is always more than speech acts, particularly in the context of Amerindian languages. The hermeneutic/expressivist view of language outlined in chapter one helps us see that there are many ways of speaking, of making manifest or fitting tog ether the range of meanings made possible by the socio historical communities we grow into. As individuals, we rely on the continuity of those communities to sustain the meaning of what we say, not only through words (as the speech communicative paradigm i s only one facet of language) but also through our moods, bodily gestures, rituals, caring practices and art, to give only a few examples. During times of great loss and distress, where words falter and the insufficiency of one resource of expression may g ive way to the creative employment of another, the heterogeneous, fluid, and dynamic of range
96 of possibilities how one gathers together the pieces of the social fabric we come to know through practical life in unique ways, but which provides the requisite framework for sharing with others the complex dimensions of individual experience was c urtailed by European colonialism, but in a way that has lost transparency today. Because the expressivist view of language allowed us to speak of human practices like weaving, braiding, painting, even silence as language, it provided us with a way to exp ose the limitations of representational/designative language. This is important nature of language and its function in society which were held by the men of letters in c 54). The hermeneutic view of language outlined by Taylor and Gadamer was helpful in this regard. However, as Gadamer hims elf argues where emphasis is overcoming differences rather than theorizing the complexity of the factors that lead to such differences. He continues by saying: One of the fundame ntal structures of all speaking is that we are guided by preconceptions and anticipations in our talking in such a way that these continually remain hidden and that it takes a disruption in oneself of the intended meaning of what one is saying to become co nscious of these prejudices as such. In general the disruption comes about through some new experience, in which a discu hermeneutical self understanding changes self
97 backgrou prevents the sedimentation of meaning in particular historical traditions. Georgia Warnke atopon ( ), the strange, has a paradoxically instrumental role in hermeneutical self underst anding. No before whom we stand helps us to break up our own bias and narrowness even before he opens his mouth For hermene utics, the dialogic relationship between the self and other is one that takes the model of a conversation with independent conversational partners, one where each may be positioned in very different cultural frameworks and where the goal is coming to an un type of shared agreement. By contrast, for Kristeva, alterity is already within the subject. A plural or multiplicitous self understanding can be achieved by acknowledging the strange r within all of us. signifiantes le moment
98 characterizes her intellectual project in the following way: I shall therefore and in conclusion argue in favor of an analytical theory of signify ing systems and practices that would search within the signifying phenomenon for the crisis of the unsettling process of meaning and subject rather than for the coherence or identity of either one or a multiplicity of structures (1980, 125). Before enga g ing the particularities of her work, however, it is helpful to situate it in the context of historical influences and traditions. II. Julia Kristeva was born in the southeastern province of Silven, Bul garia on June 24, 1941 to Eastern Orthodox parents, Stoyan and Christine Kristev. Her upbringing coincided with tremendous historical shifts and geopolitical realignments in Eastern Europe. At the time of her birth, for example, the region was already mir ed in conflict: only three months earlier, in March 1941, still reeling from significant losses in the Balkan wars, Bulgaria aligned with Axis powers in an attempt to forgo invasion, realigning with Allied nations only at the very end of WWII. Although the move saved ousted the Tsarist monarchy and replaced it with communist rule (C rampton 1987, 2005). The educational milieu into which Kristeva entered was thus very different from that of her father, who, as a devout Christian (and church accountant by trade), wished to see his daughters brought up in an educational context favorable to old world Latin, francophone, and byzantine intellectual traditions more at home with the culture of the
99 prestigious society (originally inducted in 1997), Kristeva reflects: Je pense en effet mon pre, Stoyan Kristev, ce lettr orthodoxe qui poussa le age, en franaise (2008). [Indeed I think of my father, Stoyan Kristev, this orthodox intellectua l who encouraged Byzantism to the extent of making me learn French from a very early age, enrolling me i n a French religious primary school, through which I was transmitted the spirit of doubt and liberty which Fren ch culture justifiably glories .] (my tran slation) intellectual encounters, both in terms of sources and the context in which she might have possibly received them. Although Stoyan sent Kristeva and her sister to a school r un by French speaking Dominican nuns since kindergarten, they did not escape the new education policies characteristic of Eastern Bloc countries. In The Social Education of Bulgarian Youth, educational historian John Georgeoff lays out many of these curric ular, administrative, and institutional changes in Bulgarian education policies, the most are state schools. The establishment of private schools may be allowed only by a special meant that, while she may have gained important exposure to French texts and culture, 1965 fell under the domain of compulsory state curriculum requirements. Following Georgeoff, literature requirements in secondary and post secondary education during these years called for the
100 explicit teaching of Russian texts that, while they were not s pecifically required to advance realism (compatible with Marxist Leninist materialism), at minimum did not promote idealism (89 90). It is therefore highly likely in my view that Kristeva read the works of Mikhail Bakhtin (1895 1975) at this stage and was not, as some scholars have suggested, later introduced to Bakhtin by her fellow Bulgarian, Tzvetan Todorov. 39 on the social and historical dimension of speech communication seem s to fit the bill for monolithic, pluralistic view of human communication and language were tacitly nestled underneath a cobbled network of difficult terms and concepts: heteroglossia, dialogism, carnival, polyphony, and glossia a practice which Bakhtin perhaps developed as a result of his exilic experience in Kazakhstan, precariously shifting publication conditions, and to further avoid the Stalinist purges of intellectuals in Russia that ultimately claimed the lives of many of his acquaintances (Holquist 1990, Vice 1997). Despite the difficult prose, young intellectuals like Kristeva already keen to anti hegemonic sentiment (and who were talented enough to read into the complexity of his Revolution in Poetic Language as well as in the many interviews she has given over th e years. In a 1992 interview for the French publication Nouvel Observateur for example, she tells the story of early pressures on family life (especially for her Orthodox father) under the dogmatism of Soviet cultural policy, recounting the times she was forced to slip out of
101 he ideological [and] prevents its acknowledged by Kristeva scholars, who emphasize instea d her psychoanalytic roots. 40 As Kristeva herself recounts: The experience in Bulgaria permitted me at once to live in an extremely closed environment (which is called totalitarianism for good reason, with enormous restriction), to understand the weight of social life, and at the same time to try to find the small spaces of freedom, which include, for example, the arts, the interest in foreign languages, even religion (1996, 49). 41 The difference Kristeva finds between the French and Bulgarian intellectual scenes of the 1960s, she adds, is that in Soviet there can be no doubt that the psychoanalytic framework is indeed crucial for arrival in France, two full years after the completion of an undergraduate degree in linguistics at the University of Sofia (and the beginning of graduate thesis work under Emile Guorguiev), that she first read any text on psychoanalysis. During all her Sofia This also applied to the work of Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein, with whic h she first came into contact through the French intellectual circle known as the Tel Quel group. It hilippe Sollers, who
102 7). her exposure to Discourse and the Novel attempt below to approach the novel precisely as a genre in broader scale, however, the importance of Bakhtin as an early source of intellectual influence is important because it helps to set up a clearer background against which Kr especially as they appear in Revolution in Poetic Language make sense, especially given the well known difficulty of the text. In fact, judging from her immersion in French intellectual circles, where structuralism pred ominated, it would seem difficult to untangle oneself (if not intellectually, academically) from the immense influence of those discourses. enrollment at the cole des Hau tes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in the spring of 1966, Kristeva not only studied with theorists like Lucien Goldmann, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Lacan, but, by virtue of being funded by the social anthropology lab at the linguistics department, became a l ab assistant for Claude Lvi Strauss himself. And yet despite this, her first published article, appearing in the journal Critique of the following Certainly, a complex co mbination of many other factors, such as the political instability of France that gave way to the student revolts of May 1968, the changing
103 national climate against foreigners in France, or even her positionality as a gendered subject in a male dominated f structuralism. The way in which she rejects it the approaches and responses she chooses over others however, are remarkably consistent with what I am here describing as a Bakhtinian interpretation of psyc hoanalytic theory, one that was held up against what Kristeva perhaps saw as the most restrictive aspects of structuralism: the notion of a unified self reflective subject and a static view of meaning based on objective, ahistorical structures. Her experie nce in Bulgaria would have provided Kristeva with sufficient reasons to be critical of philosophical frameworks that uncritically incorporated such elements theory and to be more sharpl y aware of instances where those tendencies were arising amongst intellectual scenes. Structuralism, which employs models of analysis based on forms and their systematic interrelation within structures, was the order of the day in Parisian literary and i ntellectual circles during the 1960s and 70s (Hnaff 1998, 507). Influenced by the works of Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jakobson, Lvi popularity in post WW II France, in large part, because it constituted an ideal o f scientific objectivism in the human sciences which would lead the anthropologist, sociologist, gress in his own 34). Clearly referencing
104 well with the psychologists of the Tel Quel circle (due to Fr the form/content distinction was already in place in literature through the study of genres. Kristeva thus emphasizes the extent to w period of the structuralism of Lvi As one of many scholarship students to come to the cole des Hautes Etudes from departure from which was connected to Russian formalism and all the predecessors of structuralism was Strauss and Lacan. Ho wever, from beyond structuralism, because what was immediately apparent (ibid, my emphasis). If we take the hermeneutic position that philosophical production is socially and structuralism can be seen in the context of prior views that helped shape or inform those always had reservations about formalists, how Discourse in the Novel : Once rhetorical discourse is brought into the study with all its living div ersity, it cannot fail to have a deeply revolutionizing influence on linguistics and on the
105 all postulated a simple and unmediated relation of speaker to his unitary and singul language in the monologic utterance of the individual (268 9). h he identifies as a pre predicative temporal feature of whether in the context of ahistorical linguistic structures, static views of literary texts, or dogmatic social discou rses ( nezavershennost ) he finds to be at the core of culture and the (historically distinctive) social practices tha t sustain it, such as art and literature (1984, 10). Like the ritual time of and culture. It manifests itself through bursts of laughter or in avant garde texts as t 42 Carnivalesque discourses are integral to the health and vitality of culture because they prevent the ossi fication of social practices or totalitarian cultural traditions, thereby boundaries of its individual areas and not in places where these areas have become enclosed in their 65). In othe r words, it is a revolutionary feature of discursive practice.
106 Bakhtin points out in Rabelais and his Word (1965), carnivals and religious feasts make sense only against the backdrop of everyday time, the rigid flow of time we experience homogenization of life and norms presented by official culture, as linguistic beings, Bakhtin doe s not think it is ever possible to transcend or escape our social and historical dialogic ally through our historical wovenness to others speakers: every utterance always presupposes the way that structural linguistics proposes (1986, 84). For Bakhtin, n o matter what one is talking about, articulated, disputed, elucidated, and evaluated in various ways. Various viewpoints, world views, and trends cross, converge, and diverge in it. The speaker is not the biblical Adam, dealing only with virgin and still unnamed objects, giving them names for the first time. Simplistic ideas about communication as a logical psychological basis for the sentence recall this mythical Adam (93). This diachronic dimension is what structural linguistics leaves out. Against this carnival and the dialogic. Although he does not e relation to the material body (laughter) and the view of the self as dialogical, an interactive link between language, culture and life is formed. As he writes in The Problem of Speech Genres,
107 drive (1984, 8). It is a symbiotic relationship that ensures historical specificity while promoting n semiotic and symbolic elements of signification. 43 This interwoven reciprocity between carvinal and dialogic elements can also be seen in Discourse in the Novel Bakhtin writes: Every concrete utterance of a speaking subject serves as a point where centri fugal as well as centripetal forces are brought to bear. The process of centralization and decentralization, of unification and disunification, intersect in the and shaped by the current centralizing tendencies in the life of language have ignored this dialogized heteroglossia in which is embodied the centrifugal forces 73, my emphasis). s response to of my research, when I was writing a commentary on Bakhtin, I had the feeling that with these notions of dialogism and carnival we had reached an import ant point in moving beyond structuralism Given the importance of other figures like Freud and Hegel in her writing, this Bakhtin) migh t perhaps border on over historization were it not for the fact that Kristeva does not make a single direct reference to Bakhtin in the entirety of Revolution in Poetic Language whether in the French original or English edition. Important secondary litera RPL either make pointed but passing references to Bakhtin (Moi 1997; Oliver, 1993) or no reference whatsoever (Bearsworth, 2004).
108 In 1985, the year after the English translation of RPL was published, Margaret Waller asked Kristeva about this absence, and the actual role Bakhtin played in her work. in traced back to Bakhtin (1996, 190). To this, I would add the notion of poetic language as a dynamic interaction between two different modalities of the signifying process and the polyvalent concept of genotext/phenotext. The latter is especially evident since she ackn I would say had understanding of the literary text that considered every utterance as the result of the c discourse theory can also be largely dialogue made possible to a great extent through her own experiences of social repression in Soviet ruled Bulgaria. Just as Bakhtin provi ded the scheme to move beyond structuralism by both pluralizing and nesting language within an interpretive web of social and historical practices, Freud provided Kristeva with the framework by which her commitments to semantic plurality, the dynamism of t he speaking subject, and the importance of the autoerotic body could take shape. It was a way to go beyond limitations Rabelais and His Word That is to say, Bakhtin identified the carn ivalesque in literary works and criticized structural linguistics for neglecting this dimension, but he did not offer a comprehensive account of this element in language, such as noting its preconditions, how it functions, or
109 psychoanalytic experience struck me as the only one in which the wildness of the speaking being, and of language can be hea rd unconscious. In Revolution and Poetic Language evident that this subject, in order to tally with its heterogeneity, must be, let us say, a questionable subject in process allows the apprehension background or early intellectual influences been different, Revolution in Poetic Language might hav e taken a very different route. This insight will be important later on in this is considered. First, though, a more detailed look at her landmark work is necessary III. Revolution in Poetic Language: Strengths and Limitations La Rvolution du Langage Potique: l'avant garde la fin du XIXe sicle, Lautramont et Mallarm (1974) was originally a sweeping 645 page doctoral dissertation comprised of tw o sections: a main, theoretical portion followed by a lengthy, applied analysis of modern (Anglo European) literary texts based on themes and methods introduced in the first section. It is the first, theoretical part that forms the basis of Margaret Waller Revolution in Poetic Language (1984). 44
110 As a revision to Lacanian theories of language acquisition that posit a unitary, self conscious subject behind (post RPL concerns the he terogeneity of the speaking subject, both prior to and after its one that is disconnected fro m both pre predicative bodily drives and desires and the affective dimension of speech (i.e., rhythms, tones, intonation) RPL is to show is ; the subject is only the signifying process and he appears only a s a signifying practice 45 Historically, the psychoanalytic interest in subjectivity and its relation to language d his need, as a physician of nervous disorders, to develop a clinical model that could account for a range of somatic symptoms and conditions with no clear etiology in the material body (such as a brain lesion). As he describes in The Interpretation of Dr eams (1900), his patients often presented an array of would have to be provided that medically linked these symptoms to abnormalities in processes originating within the individuals themselves, whether as organic conditions, biological processes, or some form thereof. In other words, as a trained neurologist, he bounds of neuro discursive paradigm of late nineteenth, early twentieth century neurophysiology, even
111 when modifying its assumptions or adding to its diagnostic vocabulary through expansive 466). Thus, for Freud, who viewed the brain as biological matter that functions through mind dependent states that can be observed in their relation to human behavior, delu activities to process ( psyche ) and the material body ( soma ) that became deeply influential for twentieth century neuropsychology. Psychosomatic symptoms were me ntally induced symptoms. That is to say, they were brought on by a thought process transparent, then patients suffering from symptoms could, at least in theory, self re flectively gain access to the source of their own maladies, demystify their origin, and potentially gain therapeutic relief by identifying the source of their suffering. Patients, of course, experienced these symptoms as acutely as organic illnesses. To s olve this predicament, Freud famously postulated the existence of a split psychological subject place at differing levels of consciousness, thereby dividing the mind 46 Using interpretive methods drawn from clinical models, the job of the
112 to establish a link to primary processes and motiva tions residing in the unconscious part of her mind, which the patient cannot herself access but can manifest itself through her speech through slips of the tongue, jokes, innuendo, double entendre, or through dreams. However, to spot one of these slips or to know what her dreams are, the communicate them to her analyst. Hence, of language as a vehicle or medium a diagnost ic vessel, without which, analysis of the psyche would prove impossible. As Kristeva explains: other means within his reach, no other reality with which to explore the consc ious or unconscious functioning of the subject, than speech and its laws and in his discours e first the unconscious, then the more or less conscious motivation producing the symptoms. Once he has discovered this motivation, all the neurotic behavior denotes an obvious logic, and the symptom appears as the symbol of this finally rediscovered motiv ation (1989, 266). The interest in subjectivity thus stems from the type of psychic structures the psychoanalytic therapeutic model must postulate to address phenomena in terms of the ical sciences, which operates under a developmental model of the organic body, this interest led to theoretical speculation about the onset of the subject itself its differentiation as an individual from the collective as well as its entrance into social s tructures like language and the family (i.e., kinship relations). For Freud, unconscious bodily drives do not manifest themselves in their original,
113 unmediated organic form i.e., as pre [ Triebdrang ] on the ps but rather in terms of already intelligible social structures that, coincidentally, also characterize the onset of the subject as an individual in culture. What this means is that, for Freud, ther e exists one universal social structure all humans are initiated into in order of th e family drama is oddly more in keeping with eighteenth century upper middle class Viennese society (and the correlate ethos of sexually repressive Victorian social mores), nonetheless, the Oedipal situation became the basis for the psychoanalytic understa nding of the subject. post is the end result of processes initiated in the early developmental life of a child. These processes are governed by the universal laws of the Oedi pal family drama, such as the fear of castration and the Law of the Father. They also provide the necessary motivation for humans to relinquish their reliance on the safe confines of the mother child dyad and ying structures like grammar (Oliver 1993, 19 23) 47 Thus, under psychoanalytic discourse theory, language acquisition goes hand in hand with the onset of subjectivity. Specifically, for Lacan, subjectivity is initiated rs between 6 18 months of age; before that, the human child is an aggregate bundle of unorganized impulses and energy drives that make
114 unified sense of self. In the mirror stage the child held in front of a mirror by an adult recognizes its image in the mirror. At first it confuses t he image with reality. After some experimentation, it realizes that the image reflected is its own image n the mirror stage is that the realization that the child is unified comes through its doubling in the mirror. In a sense, it must become two (itself plus its reflection) in order to become one (a unified self) (1993, 20). For Lacan, the mirror stage set s up the conditions for a child to enter into language (understood here as a signifying practice) on account of this representational doubling between itself and the image explanation, because the image is in fac t a stand in and performs the function of a the family drama, as well as lang uage use (ibid). The idea that this representational doubling prefigures language use, however, is built on the assumption that language is indeed a representational structure or modeled on subject/object principles. Lacan, who holds this view because it is consistent with his broader intellectual framework. That is to say, principles gathered from L vi of language is the only one compatible with such a model of the unconscious.
115 the post Oedipal subject assumes that the child is now a structured, unified self who is capable of conveying occur upon its entrance into language, it is never unified, unaffected by forces that existed prior to the mirror stage. Along with the post Oedipal subject, there is also a pre influence the developing infant even past its positing as a subject (28). For Kristeva, the onset of the subject is thus prefigured by a series of kinetic bodily processes that RPL Kri RPL is then to reinvest language with the full complexity and dynamism of pre linguistic drives (which she borrows from Freudian drive theory) while at the same time identifying the material body as already replete with all the pre Oedi pal structures and primary processes necessary to initiate the onset of signification to separate the developing infant from its reliance on the mother and usher them into the rally situated way. 48 speech is always more than speech acts and involves deeper laws and processes than those acknowledged in structural linguistics. She writes: Linguistic semiology g either a sentence or a sign (morpheme, lexeme, etc.) view, one must distinguish language from other signifying systems and consider the linguistic sign (and the dichotomies it can give rise to: expression/content, etc.) as only one stage of the signifying process (1984, 38 39).
116 To this end, in RPL Kristeva conceives of language as the dynamic unfurling of a signifying process two irreconcilable elements separate but inseparable from the [signifying] process in ordering principle [ ordonancement historical constraints, s uch as the random echolalias and organizes them based on social and cultural pre understandings, so that what the child says becomes intelligible in a particular cu ltural matrix. As a source of boundaries and constraints, it manifests itself most powerfully in syntax and grammatical categories, which impose further limits on what kinds of utterances one can say and how Kristeva, is that while structural linguistics (and by proxy, Lacanian psychoanalytic theory) took this to be the mirror stage, for Kristeva, it is only one element of a larger signifying process. It is the tip of the iceberg rather than the base of the mountain, albeit a point without which one could not speak in any meaningful way at all. alytic discourse theory. With it, she goes beyond structural linguistics and reinvests language with motility and bodily dynamism. The term, she writes, is taken from the Greek word semion consists of pre
117 ity but a plural it is replete with energy drives that, when discharged, motivate (in the literal sense of initiating movement) organic processes like digestion and metabolic functions. However, for Kristeva, these drives by way of gestational links the abstract painting or a inarticulable weight or import on us (1996, 21). If signification were only semiotic, however, our speech would manifest itself in meaningless babbl e or psychotic drivel. both semiotic and ked by an indebtedness or region in the process of the subject, a state that is hidden by the arrival of Oedipal maternal r ealm Lacan neglected as a
118 significant source of influence in the constitution of the subject. As Kristeva contends, before the onset of subjectivity in the mirror stage (followed by its completion in the Verdichtung ] and displacement [ Verschiebung ] in Freud (60). This continuous rhythmic flow of energy checked by the constraints of biological and subject to the symbolic realm of signification, the repetition of these drive charges produces stases that allows the rh ythmic flow to remain dynamic (27). This oscillating process of charges and stases and not simply a Freudian fear of castration or the Law of the Father are what motivate the subject to relinquish the c speech on their own. In this way, egativity describes the temporal axis of the Pre Oedipal, insofar as it is used to describe a process and an activity. For the metaphysically ambiguous pre Timaeus According to Kr isteva, the chora is the place where the oscillating process of extremely provisional articulation constituted by (25, my emphasis). theoretical pre
119 generated in order to for this reason it must theoretically precede and underlie all figuration (the symbolic) (26, my emphasis). Put otherwise, one cannot order space without the theoretical positing of pre creation space. The chora performs the theoretical role of pre creation space. Thus, ordonancement ] the semiotic elements of signification, the chora is the preverbal semiotic space where regulating process [ rglemmentation ] may s processes of motility in gestation are pre Oedipal and pre body already contains all the logic necessary to initiate the later processes Freud and what mediates the symbolic law organizing social relations and becomes the ordering principle of the semiotic chora negativity (that is, by the oscillating tensio n between pre linguistic drive charges and their stases). It is a formal break or scission that ushers one into the symbolic realm of of positions rpart in the mother child dyad is the moment of separation from the maternal body during birth. For Lacan, this separation would be total and initiating the child into th e symbolic order, an umbilical link remains that challenges this
120 writes sense (53). acquisition and subjectivity begins to pose limitations for applications to Amerindi an and We find this difficulty most strikingly in the thetic stage of the signifying process. According to Kristeva, that the thetic is already propositional (or syntactic) and that syntax is the exposition of descrip tion Kristeva allows for grammatical formations that are not necessarily predicate represent the division inherent say something is inherent does not mean it will necessarily lead to its expression. Yet she insists, both in RPL and in the course of later writings of the 1970s, that the grammatical If syntax is the exposition of the thetic, as Kristeva seems to suggest, then the polysemous syntax of Nahua lexical structure posits a very different kind of speaking a speaking subject that is always already constituted by a semiotic like state of in betweenness and change that is not
121 propositional Structurally, Kristeva needs to posit a symbolic realm that is characterized by subject predicate grammar because only in this way can (sem iotic) poetic language break up or destabilize the symbolic, whether through avant garde art or the paratactic lexical structures of poems that displace the expectation of meaning in a text. Yet the problem with the colonial legacy in Latin America is that it obfuscated the ways in which the symbolic realm was always already tion to theories of linguistic practice. Were it not universal nature of her project that the model of language acquisition and subject constitution she presents is tru e at the species wide level it would be far less of a problem for theoretical applications in North South contexts because it would have no direct bearing on the Amerindian experience. 49 Having said this, I have always been committed to the idea that no theoretical approach should be foreclosed in advance of its possible interpretation by different communities of interpreters communities that may have very different needs as well as political, philosophical, and interpretive commitments. This is why I have taken the of Eastern European and French intellectual history. It helps us get a glimpse of the context in which those projects may have originated, the mortar o ut of which they
122 formed, and hence the general spirit that supports them. For instance, we can say that RPL helps initiate a post structuralist view of language in semioti cs. She writes: When I worked within semiology, I was what you at present would call a postmodernist. That is, I had a dynamic view of meaning, where I took the speaking subject and its history into consideration. And when I considered the speaking subje ct, it was in order to penetrate further into the decisive situations of the psyche. You will find these decisive situations in, for instance, the process of a child learning language. In psychosis. Or in avant garde literature, in Malla rme, Lautreamont, P But thi s was because, she continues, necessarily appear on the level of language, even if it invo lved deep laws of communication that could also be attributed t o this same level of language But understanding the specific role a concept plays in the broader context of a of deploying that concept creatively towards other ends and projects, even those the author did not da does, the present day ruptures and lapses in the continuity of meaning that add an often unacknowledged layer of complexity to verbal communication. When asked why establishing the semiotic element of communication is important to the study of language arriving at lower thresholds of meaning that do not coincide with normal communication,
123 i As is so often the case, scholars working in marginal areas of philosophy are often initially drawn or pointed towards interpretive frameworks that are already established, or have been translated int o the dominant languages of Western philosophic discourse, such as French, German, or English. Frustration may ensue when, despite finding multiple points of congruence, enough discontinuities emerge which initiate broader questions of applicability toward s specific socio political and historical contexts. I ask myself: if this framework accounts for the process of signification in general, can it account for the problem of postcolonial signification or meaning formation in particular? The question is often held in abeyance for lack of an established framework to offer as a response and is related to the lack (until very recently) of translated scholarly sources from Latin America and a tendency towards disciplinary conservatism in engaging philosophical dis courses outside the tradition. On another scale, understanding the historical context and embeddedness out of which philosophical bodies of work emerge can help ease the burden of having to reject large parts of philosophical frameworks one otherwise fi nds empowering or useful for on linguistics by noting that Kristeva, from the beginning, is primarily a scholar that is interested in texts and textual practice. She is an interpreter of literature, writes on literary
124 cherish such High Renaissance and m odern European writers for their transgressive literacy as a category unencumbered by historical oppression. This is not to fault Kristeva for her positions, but rather to show how historical backdrops inform those positions, creating blind spots in areas our respective histories allow us to take for granted. Kristeva is not attuned to the ways literacy, textuality, or even the alphabet can be a source of oppression because she identifies with a Western European cultural context that is Byzantine: I learned from Bulgaria the importance of culture. Bulgaria is the country in which the Slav onic alphabet was created. It was two Bulgarian brothers, Cyril and Methodius, who gave the Slavonic alphabet to the world it is now the alphabet that the Russians use. There is in Bulgaria a Feast of the Alphabet, probably the only one in the world. Every year on May 24, children parade through the streets of Sofia, each displaying a letter on their fronts, so we are identified with the alphabet (1997, 160 161). Finding sources that, in the absence of current scholarly alternatives, better speak to the c of language is uniquely suited to address these issues of marginality, multiplici tous subjectivity, and complex communication and is able to overcome some of the theoretical
125 CHAPTER FOUR : Hydric Life: Nietzsche on Language and Multiplicitous Experience She has this fear that she has no names that she has many names She has this fear She has this fear that if that i f she digs into herself -Anzalda, Borderlands/ La Frontera 65 We are none of us that which we appear to be in accordance with the states for which alone we have consciousness and words. -Nietzsche, Daybreak, 71 In this language for Latin American postcolonial theory. By expanding on his theories of language and his related account of lived experience as fluid, multifarious and complex, I argue that Ni etzsche is a valuable ally in discussions of postcolonial communication. In particular, I suggest that he provides us with a uniquely pluralistic theoretical model that is receptive to many of the concerns articulated by Latina writers (such as Gloria Anza lda in her Borderlands/La Frontera ), who critically engage the lived experience of the postcolonial subject. 50 foundational and perspectival philosophy in a Latin American context is noth ing new. In fact, as Diego
126 philosophers working in the United States have been attuned to this influence (Acampora 2006, Schutte 1984) in recent years, philosophers and social theorists working in Latin America have also made significant contributions in revaluating different strands of 2006, Casares 2001, Rivero Weber 2000), some with considerable attention to its applicability in the region (Marton 2006). While some of this interest can be attributed to the success of Michel ral component of social, economic, and institutional problems in Latin America 51 it can also be seen as part of a continued engagement with the works of Latin American thinkers influenced by Nietzsche, such as Jos Carlos Maritegui. What distinguishes my appropriation of Nietzsche from others is the suggestion that his views on language are uniquely suited to capture the embodied, communicative alterity and ruptures in meaning that are endemic to the postcolonial subject in Latin America. Before turning t o this analysis, however, we have to first get clear about the multiple accounts of language that Nietzsche gave throughout his career. The first account of language can be seen as part of his critique of metaphysics, which attempts to dismantle the unde rlying canonical assumptions behind the Western philosophical tradition, especially in the works of Plato and Descartes. When he talks about language in this context, Nietzsche mainly relies on, what we have called, a designative view of language, describ ed in terms of syntax, grammar, and rules of
127 orthography. The second account he gives is of language as a social background. This view, which appears as early as the winter 1869 spring 1870 notebook of his unpublished writings and reappears consistently thereafter, relies on hermeneutic principles that see the individual speaking subject as inextricably bound to her socio historical context. Due Nietzsche, howe ver, this view is often overlooked. The third and most complex account is of language as a pre conscious 1906) notion o f the unconscious in Philosophie des Unbewussten (1869), this view links dynamic, pre predicative bodily drives and nerve impulses to speech through a series of metonymical transferences or transpositions. It is a relatively early view that begins to take shape in the 1860s and forms the backdrop for an important series of lectures on ancient rhetoric that Nietzsche gave in 1872 73 while a professor at the University of Basel. Although the emphasis on metaphor wanes in his middle and later writings persisti ng only as a theory of drives, this third account is especially important for my project. attitude towards language as modeled on the Apo llonian Dionysian symbiosis (which concrete, bodily specificity in relation to the social), but because it paints a picture of human communication as a more complex ph enomenon that traditionally conceived in the Western philosophical tradition. This will be the key to providing a theoretical
128 framework in which the contradictory and multiplicitous aspects of postcolonial life can be more meaningfully acknowledged, pointi life. With this introduction in place, we can now begin a closer examination of each of I. Language as Critique of Metaphysics her is caught in the nets of language 133) 52 regardless of the nature of her individual philosophical projects. While, at a deeper only the thought for which we have to hand the words everyday entanglement in grammar. In order to relay concepts through speech or writing, she must employ a system of conventional rules that organize those concepts. This is a priori theories, there is always a background structure that has already delimited the ways in which those theories may come to be posited, thus negating any direct epistemological Nietzsche t positing of a necessary subject behind all subject
129 conceivable through a language w hose grammatical arrangements support those he seduction of language (and the fundamental errors of causality to the bifurca tion of active and passive grammatical constructs is, on this Western culture continues to proliferate, making it increasingly difficult for each This has reached such an extent in modern culture that Nietzsche thinks we can rid ourselves of it that stoc k which has embodied itself in language and the grammatical categories and made itself so indispensable that it almost seems we would cease being able to think if we relinquished it (LN 124). osophers, in of the dominant conceptual frameworks he believed to be oper ative in modern Western culture. In particular, Nietzsche believed these frameworks, because of their underlying system of values and their deep calcification in Western culture, significantly restricted human articulative potential. This is especially the case for vital (Dionysian), polyphonic drives and affects that, for Nietzsche, are part and parcel with the dynamism of lived experience. 53 On his view, because the dominant linguistic frameworks of modernity operate on the basis of a particular set of met aphysical assumptions assumptions which
130 play a delimiting role in the very mechanisms that structure signifying systems what one can and cannot say is already being delimited by the very structures traditional views of language presuppose as neutral and va lue free Nietzsche could not be more clear Again, the Cartesian subject and the d ivision of subjects as separate entities over and against objects, and the inner/outer model of reality are all fictions made possible by forgotten. This means t occurred over long periods of time and through the instilled habit of our daily practices. Thus, the example of grammar and the discursive effects produced by it also point to the social co 54 Recove we valuations is important because it calls into question essentialist and naturalistic explanations for our lives and the cultural practices that shape it (GS 171). However, although Nie that concerns human beings i.e., that the things that show up as mattering to us do so on account of human valuations rather than otherworldly truths when we catch getting just a glimpse of it through a critical stance of constant questioning, we do not
131 just forget. We forget that we forget, making that much more difficult to de automatize our e veryday mode of engagement with language as a grammatical structure. And yet, paradoxically, Nietzsche thinks this is not an altogether dispensable have an effect That is to say, for Nietzsche, while grammatical structures may only be a surface level phenomenon characteristic of the conventional view of language in nineteenth century Germany, it is also the case that these structures operate as if they were true in themselves, lending a certain amount of order and structure to everyday life, without which, we could not live 55 We will return to this concept in detail in the next section. Here, it is sufficient to note that for Nietzsche grammar (as a system of rules a rranged through a particular logic), like other forms of conventional logics, does not Verstehen ] but a designating in order to make oneself understood thus indispensable if one is to communicate through speech. In a different way, it is also akes the world intelligible and allows us to go about our daily lives as social beings. But it is only one way Nietzsche to question whether the only kinds of experiences tha t exist are those that can be communicated (through grammatical speech) unknowable, but felt text on account of its non social origin (D 76, my emphasis).
132 question will lead us to the importance of the body as a deeply influential, yet perhaps unnamable dimension of language later in this chapter. It should now be clear that by describing the sustaining role grammar plays in sub ject object representational thinking, Nietzsche obviously does not endorse the designative view of language as correct, but merely uses it to stress the ways that deeply calcified assumptions can lead us to hold firm to particular conceptual frameworks, i ncluding the belief in a unified subject or in a two world metaphysics. To lead us in the the oscillating tensions between the Apollonian and Dionysian dimensions of e xperience, we now turn to the social (Apollonian) dimension. 56 II. Language as a Social Dimension social background, we have to first dismantle the conventional interpretatio n of Nietzsche as an existentialist. Along with Kierkegaard and Sartre, Nietzsche is typically seen as providing the philosophical foundation for modern existentialism. Given the emphasis on self overcoming, critiques of mass conformism and active nihilism his better known writings like the Genealogy of Morals and Gay Science lend themselves more prominently to the view of the self as a radically free individual who has courageously n efforts to unshackle oneself from conventional values and morality (GS 119). The assumption that it is possible, in principle, to detach ourselves from value laden worldly relations
133 culminates in the idea of the self as not merely a reevaluator, but an a ctive creator of new relation between culture and the individual is not thought to be one of mutual interdependence. For instance, in Dialogues with Nietzsche Gianni Vat timo explains that for Nietzsche, to create values signifies tout court to create truth criteria. Only by creating new values, tearing herself violently free of the world of prevailing evaluations and the instincts, can the philosopher also engage in demy stands radically outside the orbit of the old world. The philosopher who does not accept this responsibility to stand alone, who prefers the company of his contemporaries, who wants to belong to his time (or also to take action in his time) founds nothing; he contents himself with being the expression of his epoch or a certain society and codifies the dominant prejudices and instincts (2006, 67). influenced by a quasi Sartrean conception of radical freedom, one that often locates as modern philosophy (Guay 2006, 362). While this is not to suggest the int erpretation Vattimo or Guay offer is wrong as Nietzsche himself remi for account of the relation between individuals and socie ty, I believe, is more nuan ced. Generally, w h at often gets overlooked in this cannot detach ourselves entirely from our worldly relations and conceptual habits because they are dependent on both individual bodily attunements and ordinary soc ial understandings. Since without these social understandings thought itself would not be dimension of experience that is pre social, but which may perhaps be unnamabl e on account of this feature. His problematic, which finds congruence in his theory of
134 language, is to try to talk about this dimension to flesh it out in a philosophical manner despite the tremendous difficulties involved in such a task. This, of course, may require a whole new way of philosophizing. encapsulated ther through shared (yet arbitrary) symbols (GS social animal that man learned to become that already has already been delimited in ways particular to a given historical tradition (Ibid). This is a position Nietzsche began cultivating quite early in his thinking. As early as 1871 he that has been noticed is always a concept: one conceives what one is alone c not explanation assumes a level of theoretical abstraction and detachment Nietzsche thinks is not possible when talking about our knowledge of human experience. Knowledge is always tr familiar Before something is, fo the process of assimilation must already have been completed
135 similar grammatical fu express ourselves that it is somehow our own inability to articulate or express things in the right way that is responsible for our feeling of distancing fr om moral codes and social understandings multitude of perso ns seem to participate in all thinking this is not particularly easy to observe: fundamentally, we are trained in the yet it is in fact these social understandings that make our th place. Nietzsche explains: an individual but rather to the community and herd thoughts themselves are contin ually as it were outvoted and translated back into the herd perspective (GS 213). 57 assertion about the dialogical 58 nature of language that it is, at minimum, mutually int fore it speaks, the following way: If one imagined primal man in the form of a mythical primal being with a hundred heads and feet and hands it would be speaking to itself; and it was not until it realized that it could speak to itself as to a second, third, indeed hundredth being
136 that it allowed itself to disintegrate into its parts, the human individuals, because it knew that it could not lose its unity: for the un ity lies not in space as does the multiplicity of these hundred people, but when they speak the mythical monster again feels whole and one (ibid, my emphasis). What this means is that the mythical monster of language speaks us each time we speak. It even language existentialist/Sartrean view of a striving, willful individual that is able to create new tables of valu es that are radically outside the horizon of cultural norms and mores, for Nietzsche, the social dimension of language ensures that the quest for self knowledge begins with a hermeneutic situation. That is to say, we do not start from the assumption that w e know exactly who we are, what we value, the exact nature of what oppresses us, and so forth, because, for one thing, as social beings we are caught in the noose of best w ill in the world to understand and which, being consistent with the d this misreading is not on account of an alienated consciousness or ideological veil which, in a Marxist sense, could be pulled back to reveal the true essence of the human condition along with a structural account of the forces that affect it. Anticipatin g the hermeneutic view of language later expressed by Heidegger and
137 have it is an in extricable part of what it means to be a social being: others through our social acts and practices (E 153). Moreover, this is a start ing point that should not cause fears of political paralysis or a loss individual agency, but should bring to light the more frightening paradox that, everyday and for the most part, the more we talk the more silent we become. The agency we may attribute t o acts of social resistance or political revolution, for example, may in fact turn out to be modes of what we can without background assumptions inherent in particular conceptua l frameworks and which replicate themselves unbeknownst to us our very own actions. Thus, Nietzsche reiterates his claim: For since we are the outcome of earlier generations, we are also the outcome of their aberr ations, passions and errors, and indeed of their crimes; it is not possible wholly to free oneself from this chain. If we condemn these aberrations and regard ourselves as free of them, this does not alter the fact that we originate in them (UM 76, my emph asis). For the reevaluator of values (who may herself be a latecomer historically) it may feel as if, untethered from past moral codes and guiding values, we are adrift at sea. But not even the lion is capable of that: but to create freedom for itself for new creation that is within the power of the 59
138 In other words, while we cannot create entirely new values, we can for the moment rebel against the oppressive character of many current ones by realizing they are not truths in themselves, and by dislodging their ossified nature from our everyday lives emancipation: It is not a matter of emancipat ing truth from every system of power (which would be a chimera, for truth is already power) but of detaching the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic and cultural, within which it operates at the present time. The political question, to sum up, is not error, illusion, alienated consciousness or ideology; it is truth itself. Hence the importance of Nietzsche (1980, 133). Indeed, for Nietzsche this is a pluralistic, perspectival, and most importantly, for my purposes, a liberational project that will in fact require an individual to radically question her relation to social mores and normative conventions to try to demystify them as normative. But she will require normative language to critique the concepts themselves and to unravel t heir impact on her life. She may in fact discover that the socio historical frameworks she relies on to formulate ideas do not allow her to talk about experiences outside those frameworks, and that the very thinkability of such a conclusion also relies, in large part, on those frameworks as well. 60 Although this seems like an impasse the perspective alone that we gather from this formerly experienced differently because us for the act of taking up a stance of resistance, of active questioning, has value in itself:
139 whole age, stops it at the gate and demands an accounting liberate us in a much deeper sense. If we come to understand that the conceptual frameworks underlying our grammatical arra ngements filter out particular modalities of experience modalities which we may not be able to name on account of the grammatical foreclosure itself we may at bottom rest assured that our experiences are T hat thinking is even a measure of the real that what cannot be thought is not is the crude non plus ultra of a moralist credulity (trusting in an essential truth principle at the fundament of things), itself an extravagant assertion contradicted at every moment by our experienc anything at all to the extent that it is 78). 61 This insight can be particularly helpful for marginalized, postcolonial subjects, in between because they are multi cultural, multi voiced, multiplicitous, because their being is negotiated on a daily basis (2004, 299). It may, for instance, al leviate some of the psychic stress caused by having to inhabit multiple, perhaps conflicting frames of cultural reference, but of being unable to find the words to describe such an experience to those with a less fractured sense of what Charles Taylor call And yet, while this insight can offer a certain measure of relief, the larger problem for marginalized, postcolonial subjects remains the pressing need to find words that can approximate lived experience in the wake of s ocial and political violence, and to communicate this experience to others. That is to say, the problem with articulating
140 liberational social projects in general and the multiplicitous embodied experience of the postcolonial subject in particular, is that, (D 32). 62 Nietzsche explains this predicament in the following way: [What] has caused me the greatest trouble and still ca uses me the greatest trouble: to realize that what things are called is unspeakably more important than what they are. The reputation, name, and appearance, the worth, the usual measure and weight of a thing originally almost always something mistaken and arbitrary, thrown over things like a dress and quite foreign to their nature and even to their skin has, through the belief in it and its growth from generation to generation, slowly grown onto and into the thing and has become its very body: what started as appearance in the end nearly always becomes essence and effectively acts as its essence! (GS 69 70). and second, as colonial imposition. Thus, the problem that remains is: how does one articulate new values that can operate effectively at the level of culture if we are already enmeshed within a prior cultural background? And what kind of effort does thi s require on the part of modern enunciative subjects who are caught at the crossroads of different cultures due to European colonization? If it is the case, as Nietzsche states in Twilight of the Idols They could not be communicated how is it possible, language which, despite the displacements to which it is subjected, remains common and To address these questions we have to look more deeply into the role of the
141 process driven, metaphoric activ ity that addresses the corporeal (Dionysian) dimension of human experience. III. Language as Metaphoric Activity multiplicity of physiological, bodily forces he believes, al ong with the social dimension, also exert an influence on human perception. It restores balance to the social view of language by emphasizing the embodied, incarnate aspect of our interpretive lives. Broadly construed, it is a figural and dynamic process that links pre predicative bodily Empfindungen ] to linguistic utterances, but in a versatile manner that does not reify reductive notions of language or the body: it merely stresses their interdependence. It incorporates different el ements of his views on consciousness, rhetoric, and the body developed during the 1860s and 70s, especially as those views germinated from his studies of nineteenth century physiology, the theory of tropes in ancient rhetoric and classical oratory, and the theory of the unconscious originating in post Cartesian European thought (and, in particular, in German Romanticism). While theoretical elements together leads to a th eory of language that, in its most basic form, attempts to account for human understanding for how one makes sense of their worldly experiences in the context of a corporeal bodily being situated in specific socio historical circumstances. However, becau se of its complexity, to better understand
142 As I have shown in the preceding section, Nietzsche developed an explic it (though unsystematic) account of the social dimension of language. However, he viewed this account as incomplete because it could not attend to the role of the corporeal body in shaping human understanding (D 74). It only disclosed one particular moda lity of human existence, one that required the herd, sociality and the movement of history as pre ease thinking when (LN 110). The problem, for Nietzsche, is that this background also covers over the ch human being (UM 143, D 73), and which he bases on the distinctive manner each individual recodes bodily Nervenreiz hervorgerufen ] into personal experience (which, for Nietzsche, is always heterogeneous) (RL 21). Foreshado wing a lacuna in the hermeneutic view of language outlined by interpretation of language, only that which is articulable (from the standpoint of culture and history) can be artic ulated: beyond that, what cannot be expressed through our social acts and practices (with speech communication being perhaps the most prominent of
143 abandon exact observation because exact thinking there becomes painful; indeed in earlier times one involuntarily co ncluded that where the realm of words ceased the realm of existence ceased also words to relay experience, Nietzsche is not referring to a view of language as a mere repository of glossa of word s found in a dictionary. Rather, he is referring to the fact first place (E 20, D145). This puts the embodied, incarnate individual in a peculiar bind of not being ab le to give voice to a range of primordial bodily experiences which, strictly speaking, cannot even show up for her as intelligible experiences at the level of speech. All she has, at best, are vague, unstructured suspicions and a cavernous sense of inarti culacy that surrounds lived experience. Nietzsche was preoccupied with this idea for much of his early and middle writings. In a moving account from Daybreak for example, Nietzsche describes this sense of inarticulacy with the following metaphors: The s ea lies there pale and glittering, it cannot speak. The sky plays its everlasting silent evening game with red and yellow and green, it cannot speak. The little cliffs and ribbons of rock that run down into the sea as if to find the place where it is most new truth: it too cannot speak it too mocks when the mouth calls something into behind every word the laughter of error, of imagination, of the spirit of delusion? (D 181). colors of the sky, and the rivulets of rock that run into the sea are more than stylistic flourish es or the indulgence of poetic sensibilities; they point in the direction of phenomenology of giving close descriptions of phenomena in the flow of everyday
144 life beyond this, the passage also problematizes the adequacy of giving concrete, descriptive accounts of lived experience as sufficient for mitigating the effects of inarticulacy on the individual. That is to say, although Nietzsche believed poetry and artistic practice could of pre predicative experience, the all encompassing totality of the social sphere makes it too difficult to self actualize on the basis of heterogeneous, mu ltiplicitous intuitions this predicament because of the inevitable limitatio ns placed by grammatical conventions and the social dimension (TI 205). For Nietzsche, this can lead to experiences of this f eeling accompanies every sentence of the speaker, who is attempting a monologue and dialogue with himself. The less he recognizes himself the more silent he becomes, and in the enforced silence his soul T hroughout his works, Nietzsche is remarkably consistent in criticizing this 63 Taken together, all of these remarks express a general concern over the tension between culture and the individual when language is constr ued simply as social background as the broader historical discourses that make meaning possible for the individual. To clarify again, because, as a social practice, all spoken language is enmeshed within this historical background, no amount of speech wil l unravel this framework completely in fact it makes it impossible to do so if one is to
145 speak at all. And yet, rather than describing this predicament neutrally, as one where he describes it as one of imprisonment. He explains: In prison My eyes, however strong or weak they may be, can see only a certain distance, and it is within the space encompassed by this distance that I live and move, the line of this horizon constitute s my immediate fate, in great things and small, from which I cannot escape. Around every being there is described a similar concentric circle, which has a mid point and is peculiar to him. Our ears enclose us within a comparable circle, and so does our s ense of touch. Now it is by these horizons, within which each of us encloses his senses as if behind prison walls, that we measure there is absolutely no escape, no backway or bypath into the real world! We sit within our net, we spiders, and whatever we may catch in it, we catch nothing at all except that which allows itself to be caught in precisely our net (D73). In this passage, Nietzsche cites sensory experience, but by this he means the senses through social life, rather than as raw empirical data (ibid). For instance, in saying addition, this passage lends credence to the interpretation of Nietzsche as a hermeneutic philosopher, as it contains important clue for differentiating him from these thinkers and the hermeneutic position
146 mid point is the corporeal body, which, for Nietzsche, also enters into human understanding. As an aside, in emphasizing the tension between culture and the individual, it might seem as if Nietzsche is here moving in the direction of Habermas, who emphasizes the autonomy of each individual without rejecting the importance of culture. To recall from chapter on because he believes him to be offering an ostensibly restrictive picture of human M 245). Habermas therefore attempts to restore equilibrium between culture and the individual, which he understands in terms of a self reflective, individual moral agent and the community she belongs to a community she also depends on for furnishing the no rmative content of all her propositional speech acts (Habermas 1999, 200). 64 Despite this similarity, Nietzsche differs significantly from Habermas on many levels, but mainly because he does not commit himself to the reflective powers of consciousness, wh ether as a solution to this problem or in principle. Instead, he combats the problem of the hermeneutic emphasis on culture (over the individual), not by setting up a new, equally foundational episteme, but by getting underneath it and radicalizing each c omponent of its basic assumptions especially those about the nature of individual experience, consciousness, and the body. Methodologically, his goal is to paint a picture of human existence so multifarious and complex that it becomes nearly impossible t o accept the social dimension as the only valid framework for making sense of lived experience thus opening the way for a new conception of human understanding based
147 on metaphorical, interpretive activity, one that incorporates both the social dimension an d the corporeal self. 65 that we now turn. According to Nietzsche, the modern philosophical tradition in the West has operated largely under the Cartesian assumption that a single, un ified subject or ego consciousness lies at the heart of individual experience. The social construction of truth and the subject (especially through conventional, subject predicate grammatical categories that posit a doer behind every deed) has shown this to be a fiction. However, larger project of critiquing Western metaphysics, its descriptive terms are mainly negative rather than productive. That is to say, anoth er way to address the same problem positively is to pluralize (rather than destroy) the concept as a type of thought experiment to see what avenues and possibilities are opened up. Thus, seen as a type of perspectival ion of the single subject is perhaps unnecessary; perhaps it is just as permissible to assume a multiplicity of subjects on whose interplay does not mean, that there exi sts a one true consciousness that is then multiplied to produce a many headed subject with multiple extensions of that one, foundational Nietzsche to radicalize the con cept of consciousness itself by introducing the possibility of multiple spheres of knowledge that are also metaphysically discontinuous with one play
148 metaphysically re plagued by inarticulate suspicions that our current conceptual frameworks might conceal other dimensions of lived experience, those that touch upon equally important bodily drives and corporeal intuitions (E 236)? Following this account, for Nietzsche, the subject is multiplicitous in at least two, very different but interrelated ways: as a corporeal body replete with unique and dynamic at every moment of his existence there are (LN 26). On his view, the reason we do not readily interpret ourselves as a multiplicitous subject is that, due to long standing conceptual usually held to be the only one the intellect, is precisely that it remains protected and closed off from my emphasis). 66 In other words, we are accustomed into thinking that there is only one way to think to measure the weight of our interpretive life via the categories that our socio historical communities make meaningful in advance, and which we grow into as public, social selves. Because this type of inculcated, pre reflective thinking gives shape and im port to our daily lives, we do not think to question it, despite contradictions we may encounter at the level of unconscious, bodily experience. 67 That is to say, for Nietzsche, we are not just public selves ; our corporeal body also enters into our thinking This is very difficult to
149 express through a thought, however, as only those concepts that have already been shaped in some way by the social dimension are accessible to us. This is why knowledge of the body can never be more than a poetic attunement or intuition, and why it registers t a very different level than when we are fully awake (D 75). 68 For Nietzsche, the unconscious is thus not part of a hierarchical binary (whereby he privileges unconscious over conscious experience) or a foundational truth claim; it only pluralizes a pri or conceptual restriction in order to expand the range of possibilities for understanding selfhood to decalcify a concept rather than set up a new one. To be clear, the problem is not that different, perhaps better modalities of making sense of lived expe rience exist (they may or may not) accustomed to exclude all these unconscious processes from the accounting and to reflect on the preparation for an act only 69 The emphasis is thus on coming to terms with the various hermeneutic restrictions that, for Nietzsche, both sustain and (unduly) limit us as interpretive, human selves. His reasons for seeing as a constant source of dynamic, Dionysian influence a view he weaves into his understanding of language as metaphorical activity.
150 IV. Synthesizing Language: Nietzsche and the Hermeneutic Body Using a theory of tropes drawn from Greek rhetoric and cl assical oratory, 70 in his 1872 73 lecture course, Darstellung der antiken Rhetorik 71 Nietzsche put forth a view of language as a type of multilayered transference [ bertragung ] between conscious and unconscious realms of experience. This transference can be understood as a pre predicative process driven metaphorical activity that incorporates both unconscious bodily drives and ordinary social understanding. For instance, in this lecture Nietzsche [ rhetorischen Figuren ]; language is created by the individual speech artist, but it is determined 72 what gives shape and recognizable meaning to language. It is what brings language out of a state of general inchoateness and allows it to function in ways familiar to us. For es of experience at the expense of others kind of culture begins by veiling cannot arbitrarily choose what we want lan guage to express because this is already guided in advance by our historical situation. However, along with spelling out the socio (D76) meaning tha t there is always a part of human experience that is not shaped by the hermen created by the individual speech ). This is where organic, bodily drives and nervous impulses, which (on
151 to each individual, come in. According to Nietzsche, the organic, physical body is the starting point of all human knowledge; it supplies us with a series of nervous impulses that, unbeknownst to Triebe ) that he lp shape how we take in the conceptual schemata given to us by our social backgrounds. On this view, our bodies are a complex constellation of various chemical elements and organic compounds that register their effects uniquely in each individual via their autonomic nervous system, like charged positive or negative flows of electrical currents stamp individual perception with underlying inclinations. This is why, for Nietzsche, all of our moral valuations an d pre reflective interpretive activities 73 Krper ) and the Leib ), it often leads to charges of reductivism (or naturalism) as some Nietzsche scholars have claimed. 74 In The Gay Science but a social structure of many souls c moi act of willing is simply a matter of commanding and obeying, based on a social structure endocrine, or nervous system is thus not the everyday, social understanding. It is a discursive effect that we make sense of on the basis of a larger social structure we are enmeshed in, so that a pain in the middle of our chest might today be understood as (and therefore felt as ) heartburn, whereas in medieval Europe it might have expressed a misalignment of the soul, for which one sought remedy
152 75 This distinction is important on several leve ls. First, for the purposes of my project, it seems to open up the embodiment due to rapid cultural shifts and historical ruptures like colonization, which we will retur n to at the end of this chapter. Second, for Nietzsche, the distinction is also stimulus to the image produced is inherently not will always be mediated by the social sphere (OTL 249, my emphasis). 76 In a section entitled Verhltniss des Rhetorischen Zur Sprache of his lecture on ancient rhetoric, Nietzsche explains: Man, who forms language, does not perceive things or events, but on ly stimuli: he does not communicate sensations [ Empfindungen ], but merely copies of sensations. The sensation, evoked through a nerve impulse, does not take in the thing itself: since it is something alien the sound how then can something come forth more That is the first aspect: language is rhetoric because it desires to convey only doxa not an episteme (RL 22 23, first emphasis mine). On this reading, although language (as a metaphoric process) begins with nervous meaningful feelings, concepts, or impressions on her own. For this, she must have consciousness. For consciousness she must have language, and for language there must be context beings, history, and so forth (since all conscious thought is always already sensory perceptions are based on tropes individual perception and nervous stimuli is ever possible. Consequently, for Nietzsche,
153 always already set up to convey only doxa opinion, rather than knowledge, episteme 77 no knowing in the literal sense without metaphor (E 154). 78 As Sarah Kofman explains, for Nietzsche, our access to the most basic sensory perceptions are always colored in advanced by a social pre understanding of those perceptions, so that on hearing a foreign language one transposes into the words that one hears familiar sounds which are intimate to the ears; when reading, one guesses more than one reads. One does not see a tree, one imagines it lazily without looking at the origi nal details The familiar, which by its repetition passes for necessary, assumes the status of the proper and metaphorically and metonymically transported everywhere from one sphere to another, from the conscious to the unconscious, from man to the world, f rom one specific sphere of activity to another treacherous, and unjust; metaphoricity, by its exercise of sole mastery, implies the loss of individuality and the reduction of differences. It is again to this same emphasis). What should not be lost in this account is the fact that, in light of its historical devaluation in the Western philosophical tradition, Niet zsche placed unprecedented emphasis on the corporeal body ( Krper ). 79 That is to say, although we have no direct access to it sufficient to ever make propositional truth claims about it, for Nietzsche, the corporeal body remains the primordial mortar or wel lspring behind all human interpretive intentional, self reflexive, Cartesian sub ject (which are all fictions for Nietzsche), but rather that our finite, irreducibly complex corporeal bodies also contribute to our
154 physiologically attuned body rather than the ego cogito, social practices or a hermeneutic without determining anything about its ultimate significance interpretations that matter to us in particular ways, there have to be bodies, flesh and blood beings that can live out those very (socially constructed) interpretations. writes that somehow attainable; if it were not so we esse lives Thus, while the social dimension is important for understanding language as a to it (Kofman, 30). As Christian Emden and change, the interpretive assimilation of our cultural and natural environments cannot result from mental processes alone, for our phys (2005,138). If this is difficult to grasp, one way to understand the role of the body in interpretation is through individual reading practices. That is to say, often, philosophers interested in the history o f ideas make the argument (myself included) that understanding apprehending the actual content of those ideas. We must find out who a thinker read,
155 what books were i n their library, who their colleagues and teachers were, what schools of thought their teachers subscribed to, the politics of the era, etc., if we are to weave together a rich narrative context to accompany and illuminate their work. We can, for instance, archive books we know Nietzsche read, encountered at school in Pforta or Leipzig, checked out from the Basel municipal library, and therewith make historically situated claims about the thinkers or ideas Nietzsche was actually responding to in his philoso phy. own body helps interpret what they read that how they read and their bodily attu nement is vitally important. For instance, someone stricken with epilepsy or plagued by illness may experience different levels of concentration, sufficient to focus more on a small section or even a single sentence during the course of an hour. In turn, t hat person may have been more intensely shaped by one (perhaps arbitrary) paragraph from Dostoevsky than from the sections underlined and revisited during periods of better health, which perhaps required less mental effort. How it is that something enters us, what aspect of its character gets encoded in our memory, can be indeterminately varied depending on our individual physical constitutions (which are themselves not static) and historical ea of the unutterable 3) and it is this complicated relationship that he tries to work out in his theory of language as a metaphoric activity.
156 This is what makes N different, specifically his incorporation of individual physiology as a pre linguistic source everything exerts an influence: the result are unable to name or give a grammatical account of the bodily dimension does not therefore mean that things no longer exert an influence on us, for as Nietzsche writes, must interpret and thereby assess his life and (E 219) this is not in question most important about our interpretations is not the feature which brings them to the threshold of language (as inherited vocabularies) or conscious thought but an altogether different feature, one that takes the body as the starting point for human knowledge? As Zarathustra teaches, unknown wise man he is called self. He lives in your body, he is your body There is m wisdom, for Nietzsche, the hermeneutic aspect of language is true but only from the perspective of conscious thinking. That is to say, the problem of inarticulacy of the difficulty one sometimes feels in describing lived experience rests on 1) the assumption that the sole or at least, privileged sphere of language is also the sphere n that selfhood is homogeneous or at least not fractured, disunified, or multiplicitous.
157 spoken language only addresses one particular sphere the one con their own embodiment: we can acknowledge only the products of our embodiment that can be made intelligible by our socio historical situation, but on his view there are always going to be residues of meaning, something that eludes and elides this framework. On my view, what Nietzsche affords us with is an acoustic glimmer of this si lence, with the idea that its thinkability is perhaps not silence itself not considering the complexity of human experience. attempt to meld together both the social and bodily dimension of human experience on the model of an Apollonian Dionysian reciproc al duality. According to Nietzsche, sphere as the form giving Apollonian dimen sion and the Dionysian as the pre predicative bodily drives that resist stasis, language, in this broadest sense of the term, is constitutive of all human activity precisely because it takes into account both social interpretation and bodily interpellation side by side, mostly in open conflict, stimulating and provoking ( reizen ) one another to
158 give birth to ever new, more vigorous offspring in whom they perpetuate the conflict inherent i huma n existence (BT 55, 60). By synthesizing different dimensions of experience, Nietzsche produces a more nuanced and complex model of human communication than traditionally conceived in Western philosophical discourse. Although it shares some points of con gruence with different (i.e., non developmental) assumptions about the nature of language. He writes: in any case the emergence of language is not a logical affair, an d if all the material with which and in which the man of truth, the scientist or the philosopher, later works and builds does not come from cloud cuckoo land, neither does it come from the essence of things (OTL 256). Again, from the outset, the question Nietzsche has been after is the adequacy of language to account for the full complexity of human experience whether, in fact, our whether language is viewed as a cr itique of metaphysics or as a social background, the answer is always no because the corporeal dimension of experience is excluded. This is language is based, are a m anifold hindrance to us when we want to explain inner processes and drives: because of the fact, for example, that words really exist only for superlative as metaphorical activity recognizes the pre linguistic domain of inarticulacy understood in terms of the ambiguous, multiplicitous energies and drives of the physiological body
159 that underlie and inform our meaningful expressions. It is, for this reason, better equipped at doing j ustice to the psychic confusion, fragmentation, and dislocation of the postcolonial subject. Although the latter results from inhabiting multiple, yet contradictory cultural on language creat demand that our thoughts, our theories, our ways of knowing, what fancily we call our Nietzsche argues that language will nev medium of thought sets limits on what one can come to express in words (E 14, GS 148). And yet, he also tells us we must body forth nonetheless as incarnate examples of multiplicitous resilience: that we have a r ight to insist on our words, as words, as ours, as the first and last testament of our bodies, and what our bodies have lived through. And yet, although he avoids reifying the developmental model of language that (on my view) limits the applicability of Kr insights on language and the multiplicitous nature of the body are able to relate to the particularity of postcolonial lives due to his problematic political philosophy, one that might include the sanctioning such oppressive cultural institutions as slavery, or the devaluation of certain social groups on the basis of race, sex, social caste, etc. (Schutte 1 984, 162). One might ask whether he is indeed able to reconnect the multiplicitous body back to the social realm without his problematic cultural politics. 80
160 With this problem in view, I am suggesting a strategic or heuristic reading that focuses not on Ni configuration of selfhood and his conception of language as metaphor, as it is these theoretical strands that can prove helpful when brought together with other aspects of postcolonial theor y. 81 In the context of postcolonial Latin America, for instance, one way to reconnect the multiplicitous body back to the concrete social and political demands of 82 (1987, 205), or V. Conclusion: Responding to the Postcolonial Bind As I have argued in the preceding c hapters, there exists a need for pluralistic theoretical models of human communication that can better accommodate the multivalent experience of selfhood that is fragmented, split, yet burdened with the need to make politically meaningful claims in communicative contexts that privilege a cohesive stable, narrative self ter two) as a multi tiered problem requiring a plurality of theoretical and practical approaches capable of simultaneously engaging issues of gender, race, cultural difference, and the concrete particularities of social and political life. To date, this problem has been engaged by the social scientific discourse of
161 Latin American culture, as well as to formulate strategies of resistance to neocolonial forces like neol iberal economic policies and (the more pernicious aspects of) globalization. 83 of culture as the strategy that connects ethnic, social and cultural elements of Otherness to a so cial relaciona y conecta elementos tnicos, sociales, y culturales de la Otredad en un conte xto politico cultural donde el poder y las instituciones juegan un papel fundamental] (2006, 17). It can be placed alongside a family of diversifying concepts that include ( Wels ch 1999) and which recently have been placed under the umbrella of, what de Toro calls, a concept of a transversal science is not static or prescriptive, but rather ampliar ). To this family of concepts that further augment the theoretical scope of hybridity, I add the concept of 84 selfhood and his view of language a s metaphorical activity, the concept of hydric life provides a theoretical framework that emphasizes the interdependence of the complex,
162 pre predicative affects and drives of the physiological body on the one hand and the socio historical background that g ives meaning to these bodily affects and drives on the other. This view recognizes the fractured, contradictory, and multiplicitous aspects of postcolonial life, but it also holds these divergent and ambiguous aspects together in a meaningful way so that t he notion of selfhood can still be applied. Hydricity, as I am envisioning it, opens a discursive space for a self that is both multiplicitous and unified, fragmented and held together. It allows us to recognize that the self is, as Ortega explains, ex, multiplicitous, ambiguous, and sometimes even contradictory, and that even Yet, for the postcolonial subject, as for Nietzsche, the experience of being unifie d and held together is always, at bottom, illusory. Language always begins with the dark and made intelligible by a socio historical horizon of meaning, but it is a h orizon that is not when placed in theoretical interaction with postcolonial thought because they articulate the complex and multivalent notion of selfh ood as well as the ambiguities and contradictions inherent in North attempts to meaningfully express her needs and demands to others in the language of her own oppressors). Moreover, knowing full well offering new terminology, this project does not attempt to set up a new foundation for
163 discourse ethics, but simply to broa den the range of perspectives and possibilities for thinking about communicative practices, especially with regard to emergent postcolonial and North South contexts. In this manner, my analysis can be seen as an extension of account of the effects of colonialism on Amerindian languages, history as imperialism as the best version o f history. It is, rather, to continue the account of how one explanation and narrative of reality was established as the normative one (1999, 267). Thus, my aim has not simply been to show the extent to which the forceful imposition of colonial linguist ic frameworks affected non Western cultures, but how it is that the imposition of such frameworks bears on the ability of modern day postcolonial subjects (especially subaltern women) to give voice to the unique, concrete concerns of lived experience conce rns with are marked, not just by the multiple intersections of race, class, migratory status and ethnicity, but also by life and death consequences. The challenge for discourse ethics today is to articulate a communicative modality and corresponding theore tical framework that conditions can be attentive to the historical realities of postcolonial peoples, who still face subaudible levels of social, historical, and political oppre ssion.
164 CONCLUSION In this dissertation, I have argued that European colonization of native Amerindian discursive practices laid the groundwork for conditions of communicative marginalization in intercultural dialogue, particularly when communic ation takes place between subaltern, multicultural subjects (such as Rigoberta Mench or Gloria Anzalda) and members of dominant, North American, Anglophone culture. This is because the expressive medium that the multicultural, postcolonial subject relies on for such communication is the result of a problematic plurality of cultural traditions that, because they are often conflicting and contradictory, limit her ability to speak and be heard in North South contexts. Following the hermeneutic view that la nguage should be understood primarily as a discursive background or horizon of worldly meanings that the subject tacitly grows into and becomes familiar with, I have argued that the experience of discursive familiarity is problematic for the postcolonial s ubject because, as suggested in chapter between the older Amerindian world marked by its own rituals, cultural practices, unique conceptions of gender, class, ethnicit y and race, and the new European world that has been forcibly imposed on her by colonialism and, thus, is not fully at home in either
165 of them. As a result, the postcolonial subject inhabits a unique domain of inarticulacy and psychic dislocation that Homi To this end, because the dominant Western philosophic paradigms for understanding selfhood in the modern era have relied on a conception of the self that is unified, stable, coherent, and whose inner w orkings as a rational mind can be made transparent through introspective reflexivity, subjects whose lived experience is structured by flux, change, and cultural discontinuity have a sense of selfhood that does not map onto these dominant frameworks. In f act, as I have argued, the multicultural subject feels muted by these frameworks because they do not account for her sense of ruptured subjectivity that comes as a result of being straddled in multiple, yet asymmetrically valued cultural contexts (such as the Anglo, the Mexican, and the Indigenous). It is this constant clash of differently positioned cultural norms that make lived experience painful for postcolonial subjects because one is never fully able to engage tacitly or pre n worldly context, having to stop frequently to negotiate the various social standards encountered though everyday activities Along with pointing to colonization processes as a historical source of oppression, in the context of cross concretizes the psychological aspect of maneuvering between different cultural norms and standards. That is to say, the loss of narra tive continuity in the experience of selfhood means that, to maneuver in different cultural contexts (whether successfully or not) one
166 often has to frequently shift states, thus suffering from a form of psychic restlessness or psychological exertion. In th is regard, the experience of being multicultural in the sense I describe is homologous to border line states of consciousness, where one is neither neatly los inter sticios legacies of conquest and imperialism (Anzalda 1987: 42). Giving an account of this problem, as I have done, is thus an important step in pluralizing intercultural discourse historical roots of oppression that, owing to European colonization, underlie North South dialogue. From a political perspective, the problem is that, in the wake of colonialism, this new hybrid, multicultural self has the added burden of reconciling different strands of and social violence, which generally require one to spe ak, make claims, or advocate for constantly under erasure, or if the normative categories in which social and political demands are publicly articulated do not ac commodate certain realities or experiences of oppression. The task, then, is to produce bodies of work that can speak to the complex, heterogenous experiences that emerge from postcolonial life, and which help rethink difference and identity in the context of multiple oppressions like race, gender, class, migratory status and ethnicity.
167 experience of selfhood as ruptured rather than stable and unified. Thorough it, I also capture the embodied sense of alterity, narrative discontinuity and rupture that p ervades the subaltern experience. However, I was also careful to point out that the hermeneutic model of language presented in chapter one through the works of Gadamer, Heidegger, and Taylor, is an important theoretical corrective to the subject object, re presentational model of language employed in Spanish colonization of Amerindian culture and communicative practices. This practice of highlighting or cultivating some aspects of a philosophical framework while rejecting other aspects is a methodological fe ature of postcolonial theory in general, because performing social and cultural analyses in regions like Latin America means always wrestling with the historical imprint of European this respect, while certain aspects of a theory can help decalcify prejudices and assumptions instituted by colonial history, and which are essential if one is to unravel the imprint left by those assumptions in cultural values, social inst itutions and public life, the concrete social urgencies and contexts of oppression prevalent to these regions often necessitate social and political frameworks that are not offered at least in a robust sense by frameworks like philosophical hermeneutics. Hence, in the context of Latin American social theory, in which this work is situated, the political and the philosophical are not easily divided. This means that philosophical as well as political questions have served as a motivation for this project. Understanding politics in the Foucauldian sense of power relations, I have explained the
168 unique forms of psychic violence and oppression that emerged for the postcolonial subject, especially women, who, caught in multiple and even incommensurable horizons of meaning, were unable to articulate their own concrete demands and needs at a time of great political urgency. Reading first person accounts of this experience by Amerindian women such as Rigoberta Manch attest to the fact that discursive frameworks are never neutral and value free but contain tacit power relations that can create serious psychic experience. But in a wider sense my project was also motivated by philosophi cal concerns regarding the nature of language and meaning formation in particular and the concept of selfhood in general. This can be seen in my turn to the philosophic framework of Friedrich Nietzsche. Specifically, as a way to resolve some of the probl ems of discursive liminality, subaltern woman needs is a conceptual framework, a language capable of articulating her experience address the extent to which communication is always situated in a particular discursive context a context that, as I argued, results in a relatively unified and cohesive sense of self identity for Westerners and, at the same time, explores the ways in which conceptions of meaning and selfhood can be fragmented and multiplicitous. Not only does this reading of Nietzsche allow us to unsettl e taken for granted assumptions about the nature of language and meaning (which is helpful in epistemic decolonization efforts), but it allows us to rethink the conception of selfhood and expressive space to
169 accommodate the fluid, complex and ambiguous exp eriences of the postcolonial subject, experiences that often fall outside or between dominant discursive contexts and, as an extension or complement to the discours e of cultural hybridity that arose in twentieth century Latin American social theory, serves this end. This is because the account of lived experience as hydric provides a theoretical framework that recognizes the fractured, contradictory, and multiplicit ous aspects of postcolonial life (represented through the hand like radial fragments at the tubular base/mouth of biological hydras) while at the same time holding these divergent and ambiguous aspects together (represented in the stalk like base) in a mea ningful way so that the notion of selfhood can still be applied at the narrative level. This is key for models of political agency that necessitate a sense of self that, while not a Cartesian subject, can still have a cohesive narrative identity that allow s one to speak, act, and it, through dialogue with postcolonial theory, to concrete social and historical needs and the particula rities of specific regions like Latin America. As a conceptual framework that helps to more robustly theorize the complex experiences of beings marginalized on the basis of multiple oppressions, including historical oppressions like European colonization, it can be seen as a necessary prelude to political change, as well as an
170 Overall, my goal has not only been to problematize the difficulty in giving voice to the ambiguous and multiplicitous ex periences of the postcolonial subject (because she is compelled to give an account of these experiences in the language of her own oppressors, for example); I have also challenged some of the universalizing tendencies of mainstream ugh the interdisciplinary approaches I have taken, I reinforced the idea that there is no simple solution to this problem that can be arrived at, particularly by adopting some general (i.e. rational) principles. Rather, following in the spirit of theorists like Mariana Ortega (2008), I have argued that the challenge for postcolonial theory is to first and foremost do justice to the embodied confusion and dislocation of the postcolonial subject. My strategic appropriation of Nietzsche, in this regard, is sim ply one of many possible attempts.
171 POSTSCRIPT talk to us about dreams, leaves, the huge volcanoes of your native land? Come look at the blood in the streets. -Pablo Neruda Sometimes, when someone speaks in the course of everyday life where that structures that disclose it, due to the daily epistemic assaults from extreme poverty, servitude, illegality, from the fo rced separation of families and the traumas of forgotten wars: in short, from a webbed host of material conditions mawing and tearing at the lining of the bearable, and which make anxiety a condition for life it is often the case that the resources of lin guistic expression available to one fail, painfully. And that comma between fail and painfully is important because it draws one to the sphere of lived experience that hangs suspended, almost a weight ready to drop, over language. How, then, to negotiate this tension, vertiginous in scope, between phenomenological life, in all its ghostly spectralities and the boundaries set up by language? Not just propositional language, whose limitations have at times b een
172 bypassed by invention, but by the event of language, the language before language that gives breadth and range to naming as such, and which invokes the very things we name into being the question is, how to account for the vaporous aphasia that laps o larynx, that wets every word with the painful inchoateness of a word without a world, without a home? That there are experiences that slide, elude, elide, verbalization, but that cannot be left at that perhaps prostrated before the eternal myster when those experiences are shaped by both tangible oppressions and yet unearthed codes of What is to be done, I ask, when one does not, cannot explain and yet must explain? It is a double bind often answered with the call to care describe how Nurjahan Khatun lay quietly besides her cousin, the girls 9 and 13, in a straw bed in Kashipure, Bangladesh. Perhaps the moonlig ht filtered lightly through the broken window of their small bedroom, perhaps not. I describe how a tin cup, tied to end of a broken broom pole was slowly fished in through the window and held right above their heads, how the man whose hands at the end of that pole tightened and released as the cup, filled with hydrochloric acid, poured over their heads like rainfall. Shall I add sounds to this description? And perhaps he felt himself saying, as the acid filled crevices that before did not exist on their ta or perhaps he felt very little, as maybe the girls did too from shock: I do not know. I do not know the way those who did not survive the rainfall cannot know, cannot deliver themselves before an audie nce and describe John Beverley and Paul Ricoeur remind us
173 of this problem of representation, of the politics of narrating history when those most affected by it are not alive to narrative, to give their testimony or first person descriptions. Yet they al [one]can presently phra privileged enough to phrasing these d ifferences must be grasped, strangely acknowledged if one is to bear the weight of the unspeakable not imagined, but had to live, and yet, when pressed before a microphone, fall silent (Kofman, 1998, 36 8). With what language can one express what language does not disclose to express? It must not have been experienced to begin with. But it was experienced. What was? I cannot -to go on, open mouthed, attempting to describe despite the fact that by means of
174 descriptions one is already inscribed because something more than words depends on it. So 1981, 81). Something like what Alenka Bermudez approaches, or tries to approach, when she asks: where is the word that will fill in for hunger and what name can you give to this daily wanting how to describe the empty table the abysmal eyes how to name a finger cut off to get the insurance what adjective for the holocaust in what tense do you conjugate the verb to kill And is not all this what Sarah Kofman teaches us, the pain acc rued to signification when, to signification, words no longer accrue, and yet as an enunciative subject, one must still live, must still speak? impossible task to convey the e xperience just as it was, to explain everything to the other, when you are seized by a veritable delirium of words and yet, at the same time, it is impossible for you to speak. Impossible, without choking (Kofman, 38). And here so many that can will poin talking about the difficulty of talking, will reduce it to a substrate of logic, forgetting the herculean labors enunciative subjects often undergo to come back from the very edge of signification, the raz or thin chances of making it back sane, employable, unmedicated forget Primo Levi. We forget Paul Celan, and Susan Brison painfully reminds us of this,
175 that those who have survived trauma understand the pull of that solution to their daily Beckettian dilemma for on some days the go on with a shattered self, wit h no guarantee of recovery, believing that one will id to be obscure and unintelligible! I thought But our present historical juncture in the global South, which is penetrated by a bundled network of live nerves that still t o this day transmit impulses carried over from the Colonial legacy, dictates that we cannot here leave it at that, at the foothold of a lit beacon, waiting for the wounded to gather. We, who have learned the codes of various tongues, cultural, academic, d isciplinary, who have bore witness to both stammering translations of experience and inventive responses to it; we, this party of one, to which I limit my discourse, finds it necessary to clarify, to disinter the subjugated, precisely by showing how murky, difficult, how complicated instance, it is difficult enough for speakers ushered into dominant historical traditions, who have experienced the incoherence of meaning brought on by violence, physical and epistemic, to speak about their experiences: What, then, of the subaltern, the peripheralized subjects of history? What are the psychological effects of violence, when violence shatters cultural frameworks erected on the basis of a prior shattering of frameworks? Ho w is the constitution of the speaking subject to be negotiated on the basis of this shattering? How, if in any way, can the canonical frameworks of the Western philosophical tradition respond to the dissonances emerging from post colonial life?
176 If, as W home in the full complexity of the multi dimensional conceptual system in terms of constellations of Imperial History? At what point does the layering of dislocative experiences, material strife, social oppression and epistemic trauma, become thick enough, vis literature as form of recognition? (Bhabha, 1994, 9). Is it because, as Gloria Anzalda suggest whence the need for this modality, for this complex [it a 22)? That we are brought to the scraped and stitch mouthed, eyes watering with words only art can interpret, does not lessen the blow of having been cast out of a home land, forced to search out a new linguistic subsistence: in this respect, there is still accounting to be done. But how to account for this accounting if not within the constrains of history and the grammatical arrangements of language? Describe? For some time now, the response to these concerns has been to describe
177 experience on the basis of a more plural phenomenology, one that does not believe you can bracket out any pre theorietcal assump tions that words are always already colored and distorted and where the descriptions of the phenomenological subject are not meant to unearth (as Husserl had hoped) the structures of consciousness. Moreover, instead of concerning ourselves with the kind o f descriptions that are primarily conceptual, we could perhaps gain greater expressive mobility by focusing on descriptions of everyday, practical activities, whose context dependent nature allows the things we talk about to emerge in ways that are indicat ive of our complex web of worldly in any description, surely, this mode can better accommodate even the most ghostly contradictions of experience, which might show up in terms of anxiety or awe And so I describe the act of putting on socks. That is to say, I describe how a man birthday with drink made from home fermented corn the night before, awoke at dawn the ne xt day and put on his best pants, which were green. How timing the currents of the Rio is essential to bear across it, and how that day, he was fatefully late in his timing, for he delayed his departure, not wanting to leave the house until finding his soc ks. You see, they were green, and he wanted to make sure his socks matched his pants. And what does this matter to philosophy, that a man awoke one day wanting to assure his faded green pants matched his socks? That his life weighs less than his corpse, -this should concern us. But it is
178 difficult to concern ourselves with, so we are told, what we are not attuned to; that one is able to hear only what one already understands. And perhaps it would m atter if this narrative had been inscribed within a narrative that already matters politically, a narrative race, sex, gender, poverty, and so on practices that themselve s have taken centuries to be acknowledged as exclusionary, and, which many argue (myself included), are still not adequately acknowledged as such. But the possibility that these may be, in fact, only superlative degrees and manifestations of other exclusio nary practices encoded at the In trying to describe our experiences, we may come to the painful realization that a its own, for here, to express express because words are precisely the problem; they attempt to establish a direct correspondence between names and things when such a correspondence is based on a metaphysical illusion, corroborated, as Nietzsche points rom musical note which asks:
179 historical tradition, does not disclose to express? The problem is all too clear: it mu st not have been experience able to begin with not, at least, for the purposes of social understanding and naming. But it was experienced. What was? Account Explain I cannot. underground man briefly surfaces from his hiding grounds, into the Daybreak and whispers: to create And yet it is this tension between the expressive potential and limitations o f some true things about it, or it does not, in which case the best we can do is to remain a xxviii). But there lives in the lungs of peripheral peoples and communities a deep suspicion that this epistemic underdeterminism comes at their expense, that silence is a luxury for those e already experienced life as speakers whose cultural history already places them
180 in the main corridors of Alexandrian libraries, on a large desk, poised before a leather bound book an encyclopedia is not an option for those whose metaphors are not even their own, whose experience of continuity in the flow of everyday life is systematically shattered by multiple levels of epistemic and material violence. Historically, these experiences of what I ca ll discursive liminality have been articulation through the emergent paradigms of drive theory and the unconscious in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bu t which are largely discounted by the natural sciences today (or usurped within biopsychiatry). We find this legacy, for instance, in an articulative attempt at signification when signification no l onger operates within the structures of continuity have this freedom 75). And so, in a very broad way, I am interested in those weak and distant, foreign that webbed mesh of codes and historical assumptions that bring us back to land when, in our dry nocturnal ma dness, we strike out to the darkest seas. I want to speak of this darkness, and how we were forced to hunger for it when the language that things have no b the metaphoric resilience against all final accounts of things are all metonymies for the same experiential sphere. How, then, are we to address this sphere at the philosophic level, without, as earlier mentioned, reifying the conventions of the
181 Western philosophic tradition? I begin where I have already gestured towards Nietzsche, for many reasons, not it (1970, 305). I do so, in large part, since on my view, only with Nietzsche is it because he would object methodological point, a starting point, a point of embarkment that allows me to begin the unraveling, to slowly pull the string from the spool of history while remaining committed to the we are none of us that which we appear to be in accordance with the states for which alone we hav e consciousness 71). Even more importantly, it allows me put forth a strategic vocabulary, an enunciative mode that gives a 20) everything, that is, that slides or elides significa tion, from nocturnal drives and bodily affects to the blood on the streets.
182 ENDNOTES: 1 Dussel first levied this criticism against communicative ethics in general, and Apel in been published in Ral Fornet Ethik und Befreiung (Aac hen: Augustinus 96. 2 Deliberative democratic theories are those which make public discourse, as an idealized form of reasoned communication, central to democratic processes and institutions. They are an alternative to rights centered, Western liberal democratic frameworks that focus on individual interests, and where individual claims and prefere nces are expressed through voting mechanisms such as referendum or election. As an alternative to this framework, deliberative theories seek to base the legitimation of political institutions as well as ensure democratic political ideals like equality and freedom through consensus and public dialogue rather than private interests. This will involve real life people engaged in actual, concrete situations, so that the potential for deep disagreement is here mitigated by grounding discussions on forms of delib eration that could, in principle, guarantee equal and fair conditions for conducting conversations, so that all affected by the outcome of deliberations may participate. This egalitarian safeguard, then, becomes the rules of dialogue rational) nature and their capacity to be made explicit in formal terms, allow decision making processes to be recognized as free and fair amongst discussants. 3 tures are not closed a home culture in which new ideas are integrated, and without a functioning home culture people are incapacitated s). The problem for many postcolonial subjects like Gloria Anzalda, who are straddled in between two or more cultural horizons of a dark Taylor that all understanding (including self understanding) takes place against a broader backdrop t hat allows one to pick out differences in the first place, or to make comparisons and contrasts between the different cultures one inhabits, the problem for multi ethnic, multi culural peripheral subjects like Anzalda is that European colonialism has made it difficult to neatly backdrop (as the resources of expression by which one comes to terms with these distinctions have themselves been colonized). That means thinkin group identification to suit a particular discursive situation is not as simple a solution as it might first seem, suggesting a need for a conceptual framework that does not relegate large
183 critical term that does not rest on b inary oppositions between multi cultural peoples, and those who are not multi cultural. 4 I acknowledge that there are many important theoretical concerns that, due to the limited scope of this project, could not be given due consideration. I would like to touch briefly on just one of these concerns, as it carries a methodological component as well. The question centers on what Amerindian cultures that have been covered over or destroyed by European colonization. This problem holds that modern day efforts to interpret and understand the significance of (in our case, Pre Columbian) cultural practices or artifacts falls apart when considering the loss of the thick c ontextual backdrop that originally sustained the meaning of those acts and practices. While I acknowledge the interpretive difficulties that arise when engaging pre colonial cultural contexts, I likewise point out the wide range of stances on this problem, most notably by postcolonial historiographers like Gayatri Spivak, Ranajit Guha, and Homi Bhabha. For this question, I refer the reader to endnote 22. I should like to add that, although a great deal of my argument in this dissertation hinges on empirica l knowledge of non Western world views and in particular, Amerindian languages, my aim is not to present this knowledge in the context of scientific paradigms or as falsifiable truth claims. My concluding comments in chapter four, reflections on her own historical project as a counter hegemonic practice particularly important in this regard. 5 erring specifically to regions such as Latin America that were colonized under Western European (i.e., Spanish, French, and Portuguese) rule. Yet it is still possible, under the definition I am suggesting, to be a postcolonial subject outside of Latin Amer ica if one is an immigrant from the region or if one is a multi cultural subject living in borderland regions where two or more cultures (one being Latin American) meet, such as the U.S. rong sense of being multiply positioned in two or more cultural horizons one that arise form being multi ethnic, multi ican context and/or racial views/understandings/values, etc., that the individual has to negotiate (ibid). definition leaves unclear the differe nce between those born in a country in a subordinate subculture, such as African Americans, and those who move from one geographic location and culture to take residence in another location with a What is difficult about my u and Americ a are subordinate to the more dominant mestizo culture, yet they do not have to move o clarify this term, then, is to specify what it does not account for. In particular, I do not include in the
184 definition members of subordinate subcultures that reside within dominant groups or cultures in such a way that the dominant culture informs a lar cultural and multi racial, although he is not marginalized on the basis of class nor does he identify (at least publicly) with African American culture; instead he is able, due to his robust familiarity with Anglo American cultural norms and values, to tacitly rely on them for his everyday activities and narrative continuity in his se nse of self. This is not to suggest in any way that African Americans are not oppressed on the basis of race, class, sex, gender, etc., (or that African Americans do not experience some sense of cultural discontinuity) but that what is involved in part of which daily life is structured by a significant element of rupture or discontinuity due to different cultural norms and standards. By contrast to English speaking African Americans, for insta nce, Afro Latin zambos (or cafuzos as in the racial mixture of Amerindian and Afro descendants from the Atlantic slave trade) often lack the expressive resources of the dominant culture to be able to operate pre reflectively within it, particularly in Cen tral and South America; Aymara speaking Afro Bolivian women are for this reason a paradigmatic example of postcolonial subjects, and who are also subaltern. Moreover, because identities are never fixed and static and can change over time, my use of the term also carries a gradation component, whereby it is acknowledged that, as Ortega writes, norms and practices of the dominant group and the more transparent th ose practices may instance, as an immigrant from Latin America from age 11, my degree of comfort and ease with different cultural understandings was radically less than it is now as a Latina academic writing in English and with privileged access to academic culture, and the social standing that accompanies it. Yet, because I often still inhabit social contexts shaped by Latin American cultural practices, there remai n ways in which I experience contradictions, tensions, and lapses when faced with everyday, Anglo American cultural norms and understandings. But while I still suffer a degree of marginalization (particularly in mainstream Anglophone philosophy) as a Latin The crucial point to make here, in which I follow Ortega, is a rejection of the idea that this sort 1) as such a notion is structured by a developmental model of progress over time. postcolonial subjects is not linear on account of having to continually shift Maria Lugones describes between different cultural contexts. Finally, a large part of why I was able to learn many of the different social norms and standards of Anglo American culture is that I spoke Spanish, which, as a European language with certain Western assumptions built in (such as subject predicate grammar, exclusionary subject object dualisms, etc.) provided many points of compatibility and reference. What, then, of native Amerindian speakers whose languages are structured by very different hermeneutic horizons? What of the violations of those horizons by European colonialism? Although I take up this question in chapter two with respect to native Amerindian languages, the question of how the hermeneutic horizon of Afro decedents wa s also shattered, in addition to the Amerindian, is an added layer of complexity that needs to be taken into account, but which exceeds the present scope of this work. 6 It is important to note that more recent Continental views of language (post 1960), which inherit many of the basic features of hermeneutic thought, are generally more heterogeneous
185 and shaped by multiple philosophic traditions, most notably structuralism, post structuralism, deconstruction and post modernism. This diversity of viewpoint s means that it is altogether still retain a reductive, structural view o f language that relies on a universal conception of reason, as is the case of the critical theorist, Jrgen Habermas. Thinkers situated within post s structural linguistics show. 7 view that thought is prior to language, that words are merely external, conventional sings of independent, private mental states. On this view, strictly speaking, linguistic utterances signify ideas is conventional and thus arbitrary, language can signify thought insofar as both are arti culated systems: there is a correlation between the structure of a complex linguistic 8 m, from the perspective of grammar and linguistics, and as divorced from any content that they might have; that is, that it is not to be viewed as an end pro duct the production of which is the object of an analysis whose intent is to explain the mechanism that allows language as such to [ Zwischenprodukt ], a phase in the 9 expression comes from Wilhelm von Humboldt, whom Ch omsky also credits, not without On Language phenomenon comes about; it must simultane ously open up the possibility of producing an indefinable host of such phenomena, and under all the conditions that thought prescribes. For language is quite peculiarly confronted by an unending and truly boundless domain, the essence of all that can be th ought. It must therefore make infinite employment of finite means, and is able to do so through the power which produces identity of language and thought. But this also necessarily implies that language should exert its effect in two directions at once in that it first proceeds outwards to the utterance, but then also back again to the powers that engender it (2000, 91, my emphasis). 10 The claim here is certainly not universal that all philosophers of language in this tradition subscribe to the precepts of Chomskian generative grammar or meant to gloss over the important differences between them; it merely draws on the assertion of a common conceptual heritage drawn from the rise of scientific objectivism in modern thought. The much stronger claim, as Chr is Lawn argues in his comparative analysis of Hans Georg Gadamer and Ludwig ty to 11 In On the Distinction between Poetic and Communicative Uses of Language (1985), Jrgen
186 speech act theor serious and simulated, literal and metaphorical, everyday and fictional, and customary and se these misunderstandings between speakers, as well as perhaps more importantly for coercive acts t based on act i between speakers and can pose a threat to the emancipatory capacity of critical reason against tween figural and literal language did not exist in Amerindian languages, and was instead imported from the West. 12 to method that underlies infallible knowledge for Descartes ( Discourse on Method II, 18 19). The universal character of method ren ders the world, as a possible domain of knowledge, transparent, for, as ey are not individuals, and not the language they tacitly employ, are in control. Consider, for example, The Art of Discovery (1685) that l mathematicians, so that we can find our error at a glance, and when there are disputes among persons, we can simply say : Let us calculate ( calculemus ), without further ado, to see who is right (1951, 50). In Truth and Method Gadamer critiques this notion of calculative method as providing the infallible foundation for truth (i.e., by rendering its acquisition a matter o f objective procedures and rational principles). For Gadamer, what is at stake between these two traditions of viewing language is the way in which (1) language and knowledge are related and (2) how that relation informs our understanding of our life world and lived experience ( Erleibnis science follows, came out of the model of nature as mathematically ordered (a model that was first developed by Galileo in his mechanics) meant that the linguistic interpretation of the world, that is, the experience of the world that is linguistically sedimented in the lived world, no longer formed the point of departure and the point of reference for the formulation of questions or the desire of knowledge; rather, it means that the essence of science was 13 Man, then, is a being that has language, not as a tool, but as a basic condition for their nature. In Poetry, Language, Thought is held that man, in distinction from plant and animal, is the living being capable of speech. This statement does not mean only that, along with other facultie s, man also possesses the faculty of speech. It means to say that only speech enables man to be the living being he is as
187 of things that they/we are, understanding has already taken place; to try and point to language already colored by a hermeneutic situation a socio historical, cultural, and linguistic context that is bound up with lived experience ( Erlebnis ) and provides the background f or intelligibility, for instrumental conversation by first recognizing that it is on the basis of being thrown ( geworfen ) into a shared situation that human beings make sense of things through being routinely engaged in familiar, public practices, rituals, and institutions. This shared situation allows things to into as such a simple que stion answer exchange) are already complex cultural practices rooted in particular traditions. 14 omething is made manifest in your office because your car 15 It is important to note that when we understand spoken conversation from the hermeneutic perspective, a number of crucial implications for interpersonal dialogue arise. The first is the possibility that certain forms s negotiations and conversations one has with a therapist are two such examples. In a business negotiation, the conversation is limited by the objective aims and partial interests of the speakers: one listens in order to find a way to negotiate or undermin e the appeals of the other in psychotherapist, what can count as talk is guided in advance by the diagnostic paradigm used to the patient can say in response is thus limited, not only on account of the question asked, but on account that the therapist is not really listening openly, a lready suggested above, is the possibility that the person with whom one is conversing can substantive rightness both spea kers come into the conversation with background prejudices and assumptions (without which, both would be at a elf in all its otherness and thus assert its own truth 72). In a well cannot stick blindly to our own fore meaning about the thing if we want to understand the that is asked is that we remain open to the meaning of the other Other will be critic ally engaged in chapter three. 16 In order to differentiate between ob jective propositional statements (which correspond to objective states of affairs in the empirical world) and subjective ones like moods or personal tastes, Habermas subdivides the linguistically constituted realm of experience into three
188 all entities about which true statements are possible); 2. The social world (as the totality of all legitimately regulated interpersonal relations); 3. The subjective world (as the totality of the 17 character of the (structural) forms of rule based argumentation and n ot on any claim of the recognition that forms around cultural values does not yet in any way imply a claim that they would meet with general assent within a cu 18 world in language is so all encompassing that there is no exit from the maze of language. We cannot encoun ter a world as it is in itself, untouched by the constituting activity of linguistic situate his philosophical perspective and positions (1983, 381). 19 in the tradition of German Romantic and post Romantic philosophy. I live, as it w ere, in a closed horizon of problems and lines of questioning, which still understands itself to be philosophy, and which recognizes neither a social scientific nor a skeptical questioning of 20 Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy vol. 8 no.1 (winter 1993): 81 Feminist Readings of Habermas: Gendering the Subject of Discourse ed. Johanna Meehan (New York: Routledge, 1995): 247 261. 21 of Meaning Sexual Politics and Popular Culture, ed. Diane Raymond (Bowling Green State University Press, 1990): 3 14, and Feminist Hermeneutics: Papers presented at the Feminist Biblical Hermeneutics Workshop in Bangalore, India eds. Lalrinawmi Ralte and Evangelne Anderson (ISPCK, 2002). 22 There is a great amount of contention regarding the degree to which Pre Columbian thought and traditions, despite colonization, still exist. Angel Rama, for instance, holds that European infiltrate the account of cultural resilience on the oral quality of native Amerindian culture, holding that, due background web of shared social practices that gave meaning to those fragments is irretrievably gone through colonization, and so, like armless Gr eek statutes in metropolitan museums, indigenous practices apart from their contexts are simply just pottery shards in anthropology collections or rain dances in gymnasiums (e.g., as ethnohistories or display s of multiculturalism in social democratic societies) and cannot call up their original contexts of use. I take a middle approach. First, I argue that the
189 virtue, for exa mple, of speaking Spanish) is misguided (there are over 40 million peoples in the Americas that still speak native languages) that in fact, these practices were inscribed by force, were traumatic on physical and epistemic levels, and as a consequence did n ot neatly of colonialism cannot be denied on many levels (social, political, institutional, etc.,), the amount of Pre st number to such a great extent they themselves, over time, have formed a backdrop against which postcolonial life makes sense (or against which postcolonials make sense of their worldly experiences). The consequence should be clear: postcolonials often d nepantilism in between ness that cannot be adequately articulated or expressed because their resources of expression have also been colonized (Anzalda 1987, 100). 23 Feminists committed to a physicalist or materiali st interpretation of the body as the primary rape, illiteracy and d Without necessarily relying on materialist commitments, the question of how one would practically go about petitioning for political rights on the basis of an absent body, or worse, a cerns (Bordo 1992 ). 24 We should be reminded of the ways in which philosophers in the Continental philosophic tradition have also used difficult prose, yet with perhaps less resistance ; Heidegger, for expression in the analyses to come, we may remark that it is one thing to give a report in which we talk about entities but another to grasp enti ties in their Being. For the latter task we lack not (1967, 39, my emphasis). 25 Irene Silverblatt and Jorge Klor De Alva have given similar examples of mimicry and misappropriation as a form of contact era indigenous resistance in the Americas (2004; 1992). 26 text -as into the world and into history -by her own movement The future must no longer be determined by the past. I do not deny that the effects of the past are still with us. But I refuse to strengthen them by repeating them, to confer upon them an irremovability the equivalent of hat can serve as a springboard for subversive thought, the precursory movement of a transformation of social and 27 What this example does not address, however, is that problems of social violence often involve multiple opp ressions marked by complex intersections of racial, sexual, and linguistic vulnerabilities, but which may not be readily articulable at the level of official culture. In a er erasure in ways that cannot be easily accounted for through traditional frameworks of understanding social oppression. Consequently, solutions and collective practices for social change may emerge which, because they do not speak to or address these com plex issues, prove ineffective or, in the long run, reify neo colonial practices of exclusion, especially towards women and other marginalized groups. Part of the answer, then, involves increased attentiveness to both the powerful asymmetries that exist be tween differently situated speakers in culture as well as to how those differences are shaped by history.
190 28 removing all forms of oppression and possible to engage in undistorted dialogue. But here I think Habermas has been much more stresses the social and political conditions that are required if we are to engage in the type of socia l and political conditions for freely performing criticizable utterances are secured, many modern Amerindians must still use the alphabet to communicate their needs, wants, and desires. not words, their syntax, or even the morphemes that comprise them; what secures equitable dialogue are the structures of rationality he believes to be implicit in the argumentative structures of communicative utterances. Form this, it follows that for Hab ermas, intercultural communication is always (at basically the same formal operations as the members of modern societies, even though the higher level competences 5). 29 Cahiers internationaux de sociologie ix, 1951: 44 79, as well as The Invention of America: An Inquiry into the Historical Nature of the New World and the Meaning of Its History (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1961) and Leopoldo Discurso desde la marginacin y la barbarie (Barcelona: Anthropos, 1988). 30 In the 149 ojos el antigedad de todas las cosas: que para nuestra recordacin y memoria quedaron escritas: una cosa hallo y saco por conclusion muy cierta: que siempre la lengua fue c ompaera del imperio : y de tal manera lo sigui: que juntamente comenzaron, crecieron, y florecieron, y despus junta fue la cada de entrambos y dejadas agora las cosas muy antiguas que apenas 31 Although he also draws from historical linguistics, Mignolo puts forth a concept of language up with territoriality, if by territoriality we understand a sense of being and belong ing beyond the administrative and legal apparatus by which the land is owned by a handful of in and by language that territories are created (or invented) ... recent investigation on the ethnography of speaking has shown that the cust oms and traditions of 7, my emphasis). 32 Interestingly, Hegel bestows a more privileged cognitive status to blacks than native chief reason for bringing the negroes to America, to employ their labor in the work that had to be done in the New World; for the negroes are far more susceptible to European culture than the Indians, and an English traveler has adduced instances of negroe s having become competent clergymen, medical men, etc., while only a single native was known to him whose intellect was sufficiently developed to enable him to study, but who had died soon after beginning, through excessive brandy n for this may have to do with the long history of cultural contact with Africans through the Northern centers of classical learning, like Alexandria. Despite this, as is
191 33 The Spanish chro nicler Toms de Torquemada (1420 the things which causes the most confusion in a republic and which greatly perplexes those who wish to discuss its causes, is the lack of precision with which they consider their h istory; for if history is an account of events which are true and actually happened and those who witnessed them and learned about them neglected to preserve the memory of them, it will require an effort to write them down after they have happened, and he who wishes to do so will grope in the dark if he tries, for he may spend all his life collating the version which he is told only to find that at the end of it he still has not unraveled the truth. This (or something like this) is what happens in this hist ory of New Spain, for just as the ancient inhabitants did not have letters, or were even familiar with them, so they neither left records of their history emphasis). 34 This is not to be confused with noun substitution based on social categories or secondary 35 This is different, as Maffie explain Ne ). 36 Moreover, it might be argued that because members of religious orders, in the early period of colonization, held possession of the instruments of teaching alphabetic literacy, native Amerindians could not themselves appropriate these instruments in t heir particular contexts of into religious orders (Abbot 1996, 43). Joan Rappaport extends this concern by arguing because the latter was [morally and epistemelogically] superior, but because its inception in America was accompanied by the spread of legal ideology born of colonial domination 286). 37 A striking example comes fr om the vast number of supplicant letters sent to King Philip II; one such letter, written by council members in the Nahua town of Huejotzingo, pleads for don Felip console us and aid us in [this trouble] with which daily we weep and are sad. We are afflicted and sore pressed, and your town and city of Huejtozingo is as if it is about to disappear and be shall we speak? We did not reach you, we were not given aud ience before you. Who then will speak for us? Unfortunate are we. Therefore now we place ourselves before you, our sovereign return to our earlier example, Rigoberta is what w e call the mayor who represents the authorities which administer justice when they
192 give him a mordida need not only witnesses from the village, and money, but also lawyers or other intermediaries to talk for 110). 38 In this respect, Foucauldian analyses of culture have been particularly helpful in Latin America m Eurocentric interpretive frameworks to neoliberal economic practices and globalization (1980, 81). 39 Rethinking Bakhtin (1997) and The First Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin (2000). While many Bakhtin scholars cite Todorov alone, by and large, most Kristeva 40 d psycho linguistic work in the 41 personally and intellectually rewarding, Kristeva cites her autobiographical novel, The Old Man and The Wolves and to culture during communist rule a repression whose antithesis shows up in her own work through a psychoanalytically inflected interest in Byzantine religious art, architecture, and in Desire and Language ). 42 According to Bakhtin the French Renaissance writer Franois Rabelais typifies the breach of carnivalesque discourse into traditional literary discourse by utilizing grotesque realism, sexual multi voiced, deeply layered character structure are also examples. 43 Some critics, like Patricia Yaeger, would perhaps disagree with this claim, emphasizing instead le, from the drives, from repression, or even from a revised Hegelian negativity, as it does for Kristeva, but from the communicative revision of consciousness it self, emphasis). I think Bakhtin moves significantly away from this notion in his later works. In my opinion, his early interest in Kantianism was due in part to intellectual restrictions on any kind of idealist philosophy in Stalinist Russia. This is well documented by Bakhtin scholars like Michael Holquist. Another problem, for both Yaeger and myself, is that the working conditions under which Bakhtin wrote made it difficult, if not impossible for him to sustain the development of his ideas in a more unified manner, one that, while not advocating pure
193 synthesis of different intellectual traditions worked out more robustly. Finally, there is what the fact that not all of ng evidence for supporting descriptions of carnival as capable of producing a plurality of meanings (heteroglossia). 44 A major shortcoming of this translation, as Kelly Oliver points out, is the lack of disambiguation between the Symbolic and the symbolic modality within the Symbolic (1993, 9). 45 theory. 46 Kristeva views this str uggle between conscious and unconscious forces as the key element of materialist dialectic he thereby establishes, hence the heteronomy of drives not their productive (1984, 167). 47 ructure comes from Lvi Strauss (1949, 1951), and is taken up by Lacan. 48 Oliver refers to this two body back into structuralism: putting symbolic logic within the body, and putting s emiotic 49 Kristeva goes on to claim that the oscillating symbiosis between the semiotic and the symbolic configuration of the DNA and RNA molecule as a tetrad or as a double helix, as the configuration of the DNA and RNA molecule makes the semiotized body a place of permanent 50 For some scholars, there are possible reservations about relying on ideas importe d from outside Latin America to address problems brought about, historically, by the very importation of non Amerindian conceptual frameworks into Latin America. In fact, one of the main concerns throughout twentieth century liberation movements was to wei gh the impact of European social, economic, and political frameworks in Latin American culture, often resulting in the rejection of these frameworks in favor of a cultural identification with a P re Columbian or indigenous heritage. In 1979, for example, th e Nicaraguan Frente Sandinista de Liberacin Nacional colonial penetration in ou 16 17). The irony, of course, is that in this effort liberation fronts frequently employed totalizing notions of cultural identity to fit a desired identification with the party vanguard (Schutte 1993). In this parti cular case, essentialist conceptual framework can be seen as a positive counterthrust to essentialist identity politics in Latin America.
194 51 Foucault in Latin America: Appropriations and Deployments of Dis cursive Analysis (Routledge, 2001). 52 BT = The Birth of Tragedy, D = Daybreak, E = Writings from the Early Notebooks, EH = Ecce Homo, GM = The Genealogy of Mora ls, GS= The Gay Science, HH = Human, All Too Human, L = Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, LN = Writings from the Late Notebooks, OTL = On Truth and Lie in an Extra Moral Sense, PT = On the Pathos of Truth, RL= Lectures on Ancient Rhetoric, TI = Twil ight of the Idols, UM = Untimely Meditations, Z = Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Citations refer to page numbers of cited editions. 53 Here we come upon a long standing criticism in Nietzsche interpretation which holds that, behind his critique of normative value s, Nietzsche himself held a normative value system based on health and amplification say is Nietzsche did not think it was possible to have a value free, criterion less attitude or stance i n life because we are foremost historically situated beings already nested in value laden contexts. Language to is one example. The question for Nietzsche is: to what extent are these earlier inte rpretations unduly perhaps unutterably restrictive for individuals? What I want to suggest here is that for Nietzsche, the normative criterion of ascending and declining health are not literal, but in many ways reflective of his concern for the narrowing of options in culture, and what this signifies for an individual wishing to overcome and speak about those restrictions. He is clear to say, for heightening of man brings with it an overcoming of narrower interpretations ; that every increase in strength and expansion of power opens up new perspectives and demands a belief in new horizons this runs through my writings (L 80, whether ascending or decaden t that is chosen as the ultimate criterion, we would quickly be reminded of his oft quoted claim that life needs no justification. To posit a justification is to continue to evaluate life at the epistemic level. As hese] knowing exactly as much as is useful to the human herd, to the species: and even what is here called of which we some day wil 54 in the next section on the social dimensi on of language. 55 For Nietzsche, it is not necessary to accept these structures as true in themselves in order to still rely on them for coherence and the ordering of our speech; we can simply rely on them as conventions without also accepting them as fou ndational to produce the same effect of continuity and intelligibility. life and nevertheless be
1 95 56 This view is not conventional, as the theme of language is typically not seen as a unify ing Montinari Kritische Studienausgabe ) has argued, due in into the nature of language to the work of his so significant turn in the Nietzschean the Ubermensh language, while no longer pursued as a specific topic of inquiry, reappear throughout the ution in my own 57 Mikhail Bakhtin, who traces the history of ni neteent h century linguistics to the assumption that understanding is inherently dia logical even in solitude existence of the language system he is using, but also the existence of preceding utterances his own a with which his given utterance enters into one kind of relation or another (builds upon them, polemicizes with them, or simply presumes that they are already known to the listener). Any utterance is a link in a very complexly organized chain of (69). 58 linguistic, social element that pervades all speech communication. On such a view, any possible utterance made by a speaker is already shaped and guided in advance b y a prior network of utterances that allow the new utterances to have a particular kind of significance for both speaker and listener; when Bakhtin (Bakhtin 19 86, 109), he is referring to the dialogical nature of all thought that even thinking in silence requires the previous existence of other speakers (from whom one inherits the cultural vocabularies used to formulate utterances in the first place). To be sure notion of the dialogic (which he also applies to literary theory) relies on an abstract, generalized speech communication or dialogue). 59 To create 60 Although it is the start of a formidable liberational project for the individual, Nietzsche alone on the mountaintop, having grown beyond are thus different things. While the former seeds psycholo gical efforts that often lead to simple value inversions or the adoption of immortality schemes, the latter requires great courage and a
196 series of deep, transformative efforts on the part of the linguistically nested individual (or enunciative subject). It 61 why should that make it true ? This proposition may outrage logicians, who posit their l imits as the limits of things; but I 62 een no shortage of naming in the Western intellectual tradition since the rise of Milesian philosophy and Greek reason in Asia Minor in the 5 th and 6 th centuries BCE. Aristotle himself recounts this history (see Metaphysics I, 983b, 7). The prejudice of fo rmal naming holds strong in this tradition, Nietzsche tells us, because it is undergirded by a conceptual system based on, for example, Aristotelian principles of identity and non contradiction and views of substance that privilege what appears over what d oes not. This, in turn, is also made possible by a prior bifurcation of concepts along dichotomies, but where one side of the dichotomy is always valued over the other (as in good/evil or light/dark). We are accustomed to drawing our attention to what appe ars, to what is is what Nietzsche is trying to get at here, that centuries of ossified prejudices and assumptions have made it extremely difficult for individ uals in the modern age to self legislate because we all, but rather t he sedimented valuations inherited from past epochs valuations whose original inh erited valuations and their emblems languages of former eras. It conveys methods of social communicati nor neutral, nor intangible. There are no universal linguistic structures in the brain of the speaking subject; rather, every era has its specific needs, creates its own ideals, and imposes 63 This is t he case, whether in his early notebooks or throughout late works like Twilight of the Idols ortunity of 302). 64 According to Habermas, it also furnishes every independently lored to suit the fragility of human beings individuated through socialization, they must always solve two tasks at once They must emphasize the inviolability of the individual by postulating equal respect for the dignity of the individual. But they must also protect the web of intersubjective relations of mutual recognition by which these individuals survive as members of a community. To these two complementary aspects correspond the principles of justice and solidarity respectively. The first postulates equal respect and equal rights for the individual, whereas the second postulates empathy and concern for the well
197 subjective freedom of inalienable individuality. Solidarity ref ers to the well being of associated members of a community who intersubjectively share the same life 65 To be clear, Nietzsche never relinquishes the importance of the social framework; he only objects to its status as the only possible one. Howeve r, by not giving up the hermeneutic element of our understanding, Nietzsche commits himself to the idea that, while we may gain insights into our concrete, corporeal specificity and individuality through attunement to our bodies, this will not lead to a cl ear positing of an autonomous self. For example, he is careful to anti foundationalist philosophy. Although the self (whether the Cartesian self or as multiplicito us subjects) can never be thought of as true in itself, we can nonetheless use the us. 66 Although Nietzsche never develops this at length, he seems to su ggest an alternative mode of thinking that is pre as a differentiated form of thinking is a Dionysian like phenomenon that ge and which can never be properly symbolized through denotative language. In his earlier work, art, especially poetry and music, can tap partially into this sphere, and can alleviat well art approaches as a sav the publication of his Birth of Tragedy and reflecting his turn away from Wagner, Nietzsche hat I have abandoned the metaphysico artistic views that essentially dominate those writings: they are pleasant but untenable. If one takes the liberty of speaking in public early one is usually obliged to 67 In making the distinction between conscious and unconscious realms it is important to note that Nietzsche did not bifurcate the two realms along Platonic lines. Just like he does not rule out an merely human ones may be itself; it is a perspectival mode of engaging lived experience in the face of our current conceptual orthodoxies. 68 Here, the objection frameworks based on historical contexts. We do, after all, talk about the meaning of our dreams and attempt to decipher what first appear to be hazy, causally fragmented chains of si gns, events, and so forth, but which nonetheless can be communicated as such. In talking about a dream we had of a nebulous aura or strange alien, for example, we come to see that the perceptibility of the alien or nebulae was predicated on our capacity to recognize attributes, qualities, and situational cues that allow such images to make sense as those kinds of things body. It is the body, understood as a kind of incarnate consciousness, that interprets faint recodes the stimuli through various complex physiological functions, which, in turn, are themselves interpreted in dream life (D 75). One way I understand what Nietzsche means her e comes from an experience I had recently. I was away from home
198 and staying in quarters for visiting faculty inside a university student union building. As the building was unoccupied at night, it was peculiarly quiet. One night, I had what appeared to be a very strange dream: for what seemed like hours I could perceive no identifiable image or memorable impression, like an idea about where I was or how I felt. The dream had only an acoustic dimension wherein I heard the same sound over and over. Although I described it as a other means of describing it except in those terms. The sound merely followed a sequence of (what I can describe as, post facto) iambic patt erns (. , etc.). It was only on account of a sudden arousal that I happened to notice the pattern was in fact, the sound of my own heartbeat. 69 dimension, is not original to Nietzsche. Although we can find early traces in Christian Platonism and mysticism, historically, it arose in European thought as a response to Cartesian rejection of first principles in German Romanticism. [In New Essays Concerning Human Understanding (1704), for example, Leibniz gives an account of human volition defined by both perceptible l (II, xxi, Â§39). He writes: the conflict among them. There are some, imperceptible in themselves which add up to a disquiet which impels us without our seei ng why. There are some which join forces to carry us towards or away from some object, in which case there is desire or fear, also accompanied by disquiet but not always one amounting to pleasure or displeasure. (1996, 192, my emphasis).] However in Nietzs unconscious and from German Romantic thought. The latter, particularly through the figures of s tudy, Philosophie des Unbewussten by someone who took himself to be a disciple of Schopenhauer, enjoyed enormous celebrity in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and contributed to the process of making 70 Rhetorically, a trope is a figure of speech or play on words that d erives from the Greek tropos Cicero as his models for his theory of rhetoric, which he outlined in several lectures given at the university of Basel under the title theory of tropes is intricate and heterodox to his day, as Christian Emden explains, broadly speaking, Nietz among the external world, physical stimulation, nervous processes, mental representations, and t of rhetoric namely, the tropical nature of language is a form of transference or transposition and metaphor became a master trope for Nietzsche insofar as it accurately describes such a 106). For the purposes of this chapter, I will focus only on this transference aspect of metaphor. 71 Carol Blair first translated these lectures into English in the 1980s. Although established from the original manuscripts in Weimar, William Calder and Anton Bierl took issue with the critical as
199 bilingual edition five years later in 1989: Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language ed. and trans. Carole Blair, Sander L. Gilman, and David J. Parent (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). It is this latter edition which I follow (Hereafter RL ). Because of the striking some importance to note the wide availabili ty of these texts in French by the early 1970s, due in large part to efforts by Jean Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue Labarthe, Paul de Man, Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault. See, for example, Nancy and Lacoue Nietzsche. Rhtorique et lan gue: Textes traduits, presnts Poetique 5 (1971): 99 Nietzsche: Cahiers du Royaumont, Philosophie No. VI (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1967). The latter is a compilation of important papers given at an internationa l conference on Nietzsche held in 1964 in Royaumont, France; participants included Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Karl Lwith, Gianni Vattimo, Gabriel Marcel, G. Colli and M. Montnari, to name a few. 72 Although Nietzsche makes well known remarks on indi run it is enough to create new names and valuations and appearances of truth in order to create s and originality how we typically think of creation is not call to attention the prejudices in our traditions (without thinking we can set up conditions more favorable to a life of freedom to metamorphosi ze, with the help of the child, from the lion into the free spirit. 73 ght or concepts (D 79). This process, as will be explained, is what Nietzsche means in part by metaphorical activity. 74 Examples include Brian Leiter, Helmut Heit, and to a lesser extent, Bernd Magnus. 75 we have to learn to think differently in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently 76 To put this another way, for Nietzsche, a stimulus is a nervous impulse that has already been second order metaphor shaped by culture. The figurative process does not end there. For metaphor means treating as equal something that one has recognized to be similar s uncover that within this notion of metaphor the concept of metonymy is already hard at work, since book to Literature, 1999, 319). On his view, then, metaphor is a metonymical transference of sorts that happens both within the human body and at the level of culture. It is the latter stage metonymical transferences (codified in grammar) that register, f or us, as truth or knowledge, but which are essentially metaphors
200 are illusions that are no longer remembered as being illusions, metaphors, that have become worn and strip ped of their sensuous force, coins that have lost their design and are now currency and value (OTL 257 undergo a figurative process that eventually leads to the domain of spoken and written language, it does not have to lead to written, alphabet based forms of language by necessity -this is simply a prejudice of Western, logographic culture (RL 23). If we culture that privileges different forms of linguistic expression, then the second order metaphor will in all likelihood manifest itself differently. An Inuit speaker, for example, might express a word through a particular facial expression rather than a sound. In particular, what stays the because it is not intended to serve as a reminder of the unique, entirely individualized primal experience to which it spoken out and said, and as what can be said again, preserves in each case the being that has been opened up. What has been said can be said again and passed on. The truth that is preserved in this saying spreads in such a way that the being that was originally opened up in gathering is not itself properly experienced in each particular case. In wh at is passed on, truth loosens itself, as it were, from beings. This can go so far that saying again becomes mere hearsay, glossa Introduction to Metaphysics, 198, my emphasis). 77 Nietzsche was careful to observe that in describing language as a metaphoric chain of stimulus the existence of a cause outside us is the result of a false and unjustif ied application of 78 i anthropomorphism by another name: explanatory schemata express the world improperly, but they are no more appropriate to express man. When he uses them to understa nd himself he is elsewhere (which is what constituted metaphor), what is given to him has always already been 79 This is especially difficult to express because the German word Krper is often understood in terms of the Cartesian/Newtonian sense of the body as res extensa of a bounded material thing that can be measured and that occupies a d eterminate place in a spatio temporal coordinate system. This is obviously not what Nietzsche is referring to. 80 I am indebted to Ofelia Schutte for this point. 81 subject, strategically appropriated by postcolonial theory as a subject of enunciation that places special emphasis on the fluid, irreducible movement of life rather than on a substantial essence or
201 more clearly) problematic pol itics (2001,17). 82 y visible political As was the case in Argentina, for instance, a group of women under the specter of a brutal dictatorship may choose to make claims in dividually and on behalf of each other by appealing to their identities as mothers, an identity that historically, in patriarchal cultures, has asphyxiates the open range of self interpretative possibilities they have as beings, but in the claims as mothers of their murdered or disappeared children, however, was an effective political c forms of civil unrest. 83 The term derives from the cultural anthropologis Hybrid Cultures (2005). 84 To avoid comparisons with Greek culture, the image is drawn from the genus not the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology.
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ABOUT T HE AUTHOR Elena Ruiz Aho grew up in Mexico City, Mexico and received a B.A. in Philosophy from the Honors Colle ge at the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, in 2004, followed by an M.L.A. in Social and Political Thought in 2006. In 2010, she became an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL, where she teaches alongsi Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory and her current research interests focus on Latin American Social Theory, Postcolonial feminism, as well as on nineteenth century Continental philosophy (Nietzsche, in particular).