The Iberian Studies Forum hosts José Luis Venegas, director of interdisciplinary humanities and professor of Spanish and interdisciplinary humanities at Wake Forest University, presenting “Scales of Comparison in the Hispanic Atlantic.”
Turns, decenterings, moves, positionalities, mappings.
Spatial metaphors have framed cultural and literary approaches to modernity in the past two decades. This presentation builds on recent debates to discuss the materiality of literary landscapes in the Hispanic Atlantic world from the late nineteenth-century onward. Following the progressive dissolution of the Spanish empire, literature became increasingly involved in the production of space on regional, national, and global scales in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. This process was framed by a dialectic of difference and similarity between locales, on the one hand, and between a consolidated singular modernity and its "Hispanic" deviations and alternatives, on the other hand. Scales, however, are mutable and arbitrary demarcations. They can develop beyond, between, or beneath well-established spatial categories as they respond to specific material conditions. For instance, we might talk of the scale of the transatlantic "South" in ways that disrupt and ultimately dispense with deterministic imperial, colonial, and nationalist narratives. This approach to scale allows us to engage in comparison that does not rely on geographic abstractions (the region, the nation, the world) and modernity’s logic of similarity and difference, sameness and otherness, oppression, and resistance. Seen through a fluid plurality of scales, the Hispanic Atlantic is an area of cultural change and exchange, communication and interference, that resists singular definitions, periodizations, and historiographic accounts.
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