Lecture Drucken

Deneb Kozikowski

Modernity at the Frontier / Navigability and Metamorphoses

9:00-17:00Haus der Kulturen der WeltJohn-Foster-Dulles-Allee 1010557 Berlin
Modernity at the Frontier / Navigability and Metamorphoses

This seminar will offer an exposition of the major debates surrounding modernity and modernization in Latin America from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, thus covering the main issues underlying the development a post-colonial and post-slavery condition. Emphasis will be placed on the ways in which the Latin American context intrinsically reveals the paradoxes and antinomies of modernity (conceptually) and modernization (practically). Rather than proposing Latin America as the other or the outside of modernity, or the periphery of modernizing processes, we will explore the conditions that account for the epistemic specificity of Latin American modes of knowledge production. Such configuration of modernity places certain demands on any attempt to engage with these phenomena under a globalizing navigational paradigm or universalist paradigm. We will work through the challenges that the epistemic configuration of Latin America poses as to synthetically delineate the productive encounters, translations and asymmetries between different topoi of modernity.

In the first session, we will explore the ways in which modernization was instantiated and actualized in Latin American contexts, and how Latin American thinkers detected the impasses and antinomies that emerged from different physical and intellectual spheres. We will focus on the Amazon as a veritably paradigmatic case, and on the works of engineers Euclides da Cunha and Alberto Rangel, whose self-reflexive thought on the conditions of the frontier make the antinomies of modernization visible. Writing during the intensive rubber economy cycle in the Amazon, these thinker-engineers saw the rise of a new socio-economic persona/worker, the cauchero and seringueiro –a figure seen as occupying the very margin of history ('modernization'). Close engagement with the mobilization of new languages to speak the seemingly unintelligible (the Amazon), and with the technical innovations (engineering) of writing will prove tantamount to an understanding of the spatiotemporal complexity that confronts the navigational paradigm.

In the second section we will transition from the spatiotemporal complexities detected by da Cunha and Rangel's thought on the socio-economic and physical aspects of the Amazon to the positive manipulation of theoretical considerations and concepts to be encountered by rationalist functionalism program. We will draw on the works of contemporary thinkers Fernando Zalamea (reason and Latin America) and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (Amerindian perspectivism); and writers Clarice Lispector and Guimarães Rosa to explore the dynamic relationships between moments of conception, synthesis, and translation.
Required reading: C. Lispector, The Passion According to G.H. p. 3-14, 90-93; and E. Viveiros de Castro, 'Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation.' Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America. 2:1 (2004).