An important question concerning literary studies is the circulation of literary works beyond their place of origin. Many other aspects must also be taken into consideration, such as the asymmetric positioning of authors and their work in international circulation, which is conditioned by the relative position of languages and cultures in the global market. This volume focuses on literary and cultural circulation and includes essays that explore this topic through case studies, analysing works and authors from diverse literatures and cultures, and discussions of the theoretical issues surrounding circulation and all that it entails: temporality, place, method, material objects and concepts.
8 When America First Became Latin (Paulo Moreira)
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8 When America First Became Latin
There is already a vast literature on the supposed origins of the term “América Latina”.1 Besides the oft-repeated critique to essentialism, the search for origins as an end in itself is equivocal for two reasons. First, the idea of an America that was Latin already circulated in various intellectual circles before the term itself was coined and well before its ample circulation in the twentieth century. Second, the term Latin has a long history that goes all the way back to the Roman Empire in the European context. Thus, trying to build a precise (and relevant) narrative about the birth of the term Latin America is to approach an extremely complex, fluid and broad issue with glaring limitations.
With those limitations in mind, the focus of this chapter is not so much on telling the story of a term that is born, grows and matures, but on the genealogy of an idea, a semantic force field that gathers around different terms encompassing a diversity that points to the disputes over its meaning and its dialectic relation to the context of these disputes. In order to do that I present to you more specifically an analysis of a group of texts written and published when the idea of a Latin America started to be more consistently expressed as Latin American nations accomplished their independence. It is a modest attempt to shed...
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