ArteletrA: The Politics of Going Unnoticed in the Latin American Sixties
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This dissertation focuses on the long 1960s in Latin America to ask about forms of political and ethical interventions that went unnoticed in the cultural debates of the era. Within the vast Latin American cultural markets of the sixties, I study four authors who works were overlooked both critically and popularly at the time. Calvert Casey (1924-1969), a gay Cuban-American writer, worked and published in Havana from 1958 to 1965 when he went into self-exile. Juan Filloy (1894-2000), the Argentine "writer from three centuries," returned from a thirty year editorial silence in the sixties. Héctor Manjarrez (1945) returned to Mexico City from London and began to publish only after the massacre at Tlatelolco. Armonía Somers (1914-1994), a female, Uruguayan writer of dark and erotic tales, was originally dismissed by many of her contemporaries for her provocative themes.
What unites these diverse authors is a common problematic, unique to them, which appears throughout their works--a practice I call "the politics of going unnoticed." Political philosophy from Plato to Rancière highlights the process of passing from invisibility to visibility within the public sphere. However, these authors imagine subjects who purposefully avoid the spotlight and still engage in dissensus. While reading the Latin American cultural archive against the grain, my analysis is guided by three questions: (1) How can a seemingly unimportant subject enact a radical critique while, paradoxically, going unnoticed by dominant institutions? (2) How do these authors promote an ethics that open dialogues among political adversaries in a democratic framework without relying on exclusive categories? And (3), what are the formal strategies they employ to reflect the politics and ethics of going unnoticed?
I contend that these authors imagine new possibilities for political action far from entrenched ideologies (e.g., Peronism, the Cuban Revolution) and violent acts of aggression or repression (e.g., the Tupamaros, the massacre at Tlatelolco). Moreover, they generate the conditions of possibility for agonistic, democratizing transformations of existing institutions and epistemologies that exceed exclusive national and identitarian boundaries.