Friday, March 5, 2010

Workshop 3: Gender and Nation

[a] Cécile Stehrenberger :: Franco’s Dancers on Tour: Folklore, Nation and Gender in a Colonial Encounter
[b] Noemi Martin Santo :: Heroic Hetaera: The Idealization of East Asian Prostitution in Early Twentieth-century Hispanic Travel Writing
[c] Krissie Butler :: Masculinity in Crisis: Fidel Castro and the Warrior Body

Coordina: Juan Álvarez

[a]
:: Franco's Dancers on Tour: Folklore, Nation and Gender in a Colonial Encounter. Los Coros y Danzas de la Sección Femenina in Equatorial Guinea
// Cécile Stephanie Stehrenberger

In 1938 the female section of the Falange created a culture department that dedicated itself to the "conservation" of "the authentic spanisch Folklore". Coros y Danzas-groups were built, which in "field research" "rescued" "forgotten" dances and displayed them in front of gradually growing audiences. Soon, several formations performed outside of Spain as well. In 1954 and 1957 the Coros y Danzas went on stage in Equatorial Guinea. The Folklore groups danced on a political mission. In my contribution, I will elaborate on how the dancers completed it and on how and why they failed to do so.
The performances of the Coros y Danzas were supposed to contribute to various aspects of the franquist nationbuilding, a nexus of interdependent gender- and colonial politics. For instance, were the dancers displayed as role models for the ideal submissive subject and their show can be interpreted as politics of emotion attempting to evoke a 'sense of belonging to Spain' in their audience. Through various material/semiotic processes, the dancers were staged with characteristics that made them suitable instruments for their mission. Among those were their submissiveness, "alegría", and "typical" "racial" features. However, the dancers also showed some characteristics that jeopardized their mission. The sources report scared and disobidient dancers, who were 'not quite white' and whose gender became blurred. I will analyze the effects of these 'misfortunes'and their causes, like the ambivalance of the dancers' political function, the particularities of their dances and the colonial encounters they made.

[b]
:: Heroic Hetaera: The Idealization of East Asian Prostitution in Early Twentieth-century Hispanic Travel Writing
// Noemi Martin Santo

This presentation is centered on the book El Japón heroico y galante by Enrique Gomez Carrillo, published in 1912. There will also be references to travel writings by Aurora Bertrana,(Paradisos Oceànics, 1930) Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (La vuelta al mundo, de un novelista, 1925), and Federico García Sanchiz (La ciudad milagrosa, Shanghai 1926).
These writers portrayed their travels to Japan, China, French Polynesia and other East Asian countries from a highly orientalist perspective. It’s interesting to note that their influences are quite different. Modernism in the case of Bertrana, Naturalism in Blasco Ibáñez, while García Sanchiz was a writer of social chronicles and Gomez Carrillo was journalist and politician. However, all share the idealization of the places where they lived or traveled.
The first half of 20 Century is a period when new ideologies are appearing, while old ones are still present. Hispanic writers, depending on their social status, accepted, criticized, or defied their own countries’ ideologies through literature. Travel and writing about Asia became a way of escaping European ways of thinking and getting into countries where authors’ life was fictitious.
Whether the knowledge of Asian cities was deep or superficial, the travel short or the stay long, the world of prostitution was described as an ideal fanciful universe, without the perversion and obscenity that was ascribed to the activity in Europe.
Prostitutes were described as national heroines or icons, role models for a perfect society. They were, in the eyes of the authors, well educated, proud, cultivated, and righteous.
Through the representation of these ideal social institutions, the Hispanic travel writers were expressing their critical views on their respective national societies.

[c]
:: Masculinity in Crisis: Fidel Castro and the Warrior Body
// Krissie Butler

My project seeks to examine literary, cultural, and artistic expressions of Fidel Castro in both Cuba and the United States within the context of masculinity theory. Here, I will deal exclusively with Fidel as a revolutionary soldier and argue that the warrior body has been a powerful site for constructing—and deconstructing— notions of masculine bravery in both Cuba and the United States. This is due, in large part, because war and militarism are central components in the configuration of masculinity. I suggest that Fidel’s warrior body functions as a defining element in the construction of his masculinity and, consequently, in the reconstruction of Cuban hegemonic masculinity. This image and the symbols associated with Fidel’s warrior body— the fatigues, the cigar, the rifle, and the beard— are not simply items in and of themselves, but rather work together to form what Roland Barthes has termed “myth”. However, literary works such as Norberto Fuentes’ La autobiografía de Fidel Castro and Rachel Kushner’s Telex from Cuba have subverted Fidel’s manly guerrilla image in their depiction of the leader as an effeminate and cowardly soldier. All of these various portrayals illustrate the ways in which masculinity works to shape politics and vice versa. In my analysis of Fidel’s image, masculinity has been proven to be a powerful tool for “inventing” the Cuban leader. Fidel’s warrior body, therefore, highlights the instability and shifting nature of images and reminds us, as researchers, of our task to decode them.

12 comments:

  1. [a] Cécile

    -Desde la redacción misma de tu “abstract” (me refiero al primer párrafo) parece presente en tu propuesta reflexiva una suerte de pulso narrativo, de músculo descriptivo, casi necesario (podría pensarse) para el trato de un material huidizo como la danza (y coros). ¿Hace parte de tu proyecto una propuesta, de escritura misma, más hermana, digamos, de la narración que de la aseveración demostrativa?

    -Me produce curiosidad saber ¿cómo vas a trabajar la noción de “misfortunes” (¿desgracias?) en todo este set de circunstancias y manifestaciones que suenan tan bien?

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  2. [b] Noemi

    -En cierto punto contextualizas: “The first half of 20 Century is a period when ideologies are appearing, while old ones are still present”. ¿Te animarías a apuntar a una ideología de esas del periodo, en tensión quizá, una ideología incidiendo en el uso, por parte de estos escritores, de esta táctica de viaje y escritura sobre Asia?

    -¿Qué dirección seguirá tomando tu reflexión? Es decir, después de la constatación de esta especie de táctica (por vías asiáticas) de expresión crítica apuntada contra sus sociedades nacionales, ¿qué pasa? ¿Hay algo en la especificidad de esta operación que llamas de orientalización, que la hiciera apetecible, o mejor, propicia para el objetivo crítico de estos sujetos?

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  3. [c] Krissie

    -¿Cómo ampliarías, o piensas incorporar, ese giro último del “abstract” tipo mandato de la práctica crítica, giro que identificas en el sujeto del investigador (“researchers”)?

    -Si la masculinidad y la política (en el caso que examinas de Castro) se dan forma mutuamente, qué otro tipo de estrategias (o políticas o de género) le dan forma a las tensiones que constituyen la experiencia política del castrismo?

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  4. (a) Cécile:

    - Concuerdo con Juan en su curiosidad por saber cómo vas a trabajar la noción de ‘misfortunes’. Por ejemplo, me pregunto: ¿estas desgracias corresponden a los bailarines, al proyecto de nation-building, o a ambos? ¿Qué constituye una desgracia, y qué relación tendría, por ejemplo, con el concepto del fracaso?

    - Me interesa mucho saber más sobre qué tipos de bailes y coros folclóricos se apropiaban (¿regionales o de raíz gitana?) ¿Cómo se definía el folclore nacional en un país con tanta diversidad cultural interna? En el caso de que se apropiaran del flamenco, un arte gitano ¿cómo reconciliarían tal apropiación con la noción de una ‘raza’ (¿pura?) española?

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  5. (b) Noemí:

    -La tesis que presentas, “Through the representation of these ideal social institutions, the Hispanic travel writers were expressing their critical views on their respective national societies”, me parece muy sugerente, y me gustaría saber ¿exactamente cuáles son estos “critical views” y cómo entran en relación con la institución concreta de la prostitución?

    - Parece que estás trabajando con varios ejes geográficos y nacionales. Es decir, no sólo entra la típica relación ‘orientalista’ Europa-Asia (Occidente/Oriente) sino también el eje Latinoamérica-Asia ¿verdad? Desde un punto de vista metodológico, me gustaría saber más sobre cómo defines la categoría “Hispanic” y qué repercusiones tiene en cuanto al impulso orientalista.

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  7. Juan:

    - Estoy pensando en la ideología del "ángel del hogar", que es parte del siglo XIX aunque se puede encontrar también en el siglo XX. El ángel del hogar era una forma de negarle el sexo a la mujer.
    Opuesto al ángel del hogar, encontramos la representación de la prostituta como símbolo de los defectos de la patria. Estoy pensando en "Santa" o "Juana Lucero".
    Estoy buscando una conexión entre la representación de la prostituta oriental con la que se encuentra en la propia patria.

    - Creo que no comprendo tu segunda pregunta. ¿Te refieres a cómo voy a trabajar el texto en el futuro? Pienso que, al igual que "Santa" o "Juana Lucero", donde los prostíbulos se convierten en representaciones de la nación, las prostitutas orientales se convierten en un modo de idealizar las naciones que no han sido creadas por las potencias europeas y que por tanto no sufren sus crisis.

    Rachel

    - Te contesto con un ejemplo: En "Paradisos Oceànics", Aurora Bertrana re refiere a la cortesana Turei y habla de sus cuatro hijos (de cuatro padres anónimos, se comprende). Básicamente, Bertrana compara la situación de Turei con la de las prostitutas europeas.
    Sobre los niños dice esto (traducción mía): "En Europa, donde los hombres obligan a las pobres chicas que tienen la debilidad de quererlos, a destruir el fruto de sus amores, eso no sería posible. Los honorables burgueses cerrarían sus puertas, vallarían todos los caminos a estos cuatro infantes inocentes".

    - Creo que entiendo el eje al que te refieres. Tengo que profundizar más en esto, pero pienso que en los libros de viaje con los que estoy trabajando, el eje no es binario sino múltiple. Enrique Gómez Carrillo escribe "como hacemos en Europa", a pesar de que él era Guatemalteco.
    Definir "Hispanic" me parece bastante complicado. Elegí "Hispanic" porque tiendo a rechazar la palabra "Spanish". Me sugiere que puede dar la idea de literatura "española" y no de literatura "en español".
    Me costó mucho llegar a esa definición, de hecho es de lo primero que hablé cuando presenté la idea al departamento en UO.
    En cuanto al impulso orientalista, es en lo que estoy trabajando. No tengo una respuesta rápida, pero pienso que voy a avanzar en relación con la idealización de naciones que no son europeas.

    Muchas gracias por vuestras preguntas.

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  8. Cécile StehrenbergerMarch 23, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    Juan and Rachel: I have tried to answer your interesting questions in my paper. Therefore here only some short comments:

    Juan: The assemblage of events and non-events, of rumors, discourses and phantasms that I study form an incredibly messy assemblage. Dance’s inherent openness, or différance, is only one of the factors that render it messy. Another is my specific epistemological standpoints and the way they influence my dancing inside this assemblage, my analysis. This messiness leaves traces in my style of writing. I have to erase many of these traces in order to make my writing fit into the standards of an academic text. How much messiness do you think is allowed in an academic text and how much messiness should be allowed in an academic text? – this is a question that I would really love to discuss with all the participants at the conference!

    Juan and Rachel: Several constellations in the assemblage I study made the appearance of unplanned manifestations of the dancers’ bodies that were endangering the dancers’ political mission unavoidable. However, was the exact form of those misfortunes influenced by casual factors like the encounters the dancers made.
    The misfortunes disturbed the Francoist nationbuilding, made its failure possible but not necessary. Some of their unplanned manifestations were indeed dangerous misfortunes for the dancers too – for instance their falling ill. Others were not.

    Rachel: In their “labor de campo” the Coros y Danzas, attempted to “rescue” the “authentic Spanish Folklore”, which they delimited from “pseudo falmenco gitano”. But on stage they presented what ‘sold best’ (the oscillation between spectacle and authenticity was always difficult). Therefore they not only danced El Vito and Farrucas but also Bulerías and what can be called a “Folklore aflamencado”. The ‘blackness’ of those dances indeed cast a dark shadow on the Andalusian dancers’ skin, which resulted quite fatal in Equatorial Guinea, a colonial system established on the idea of racial difference. At the same time, on the margins of the Sección Femenina’s official discourse there were always some voices that rather celebrated than negated the “impurity” of Spanish Folklore. They fitted the Spanish concept of race, which – as recently shown in an interesting publication by Joshua Goode – was based on the ideal of “impurity” rather than “purity of blood”. And they sustained thereby the ideology of Hispanotropicalismo.

    Thank you very much for your questions!
    Cécile

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  9. Cécile:
    Dices:
    "How much messiness do you think is allowed in an academic text and how much messiness should be allowed in an academic text? – this is a question that I would really love to discuss with all the participants at the conference!"
    Gua, estupendo problema a enfrentar. Prometo desde ya abrirle algún espacio en nuestro taller/mesa. Pero si me lo permites, me tomaré el atrevimiento y comenzaré la discusión reformulando tu problema en códigos de "encuesta" para subirlo a nuestro URTAK, que espero que hayas visto, atendido, votado, y que en caso de no, te invito a pillar.

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  10. Cécile StehrenbergerMarch 23, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    Estupendo! Gracias

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  11. Cécile:

    1. You say: "Dance’s inherent openness, or différance, is only one of the factors that render it messy. Another is my specific epistemological standpoints and the way they influence my dancing inside this assemblage, my analysis." In what sense is dance inherently open? And how is such inherent openness related to différance? What are your specific epistemological standpoints? Is the specter of Derrida haunting your standpoints? Perhaps even Badiou, especially in his "Dance as a Metaphor for Thought", where he discusses a kind of weightless thought that, with Nietszche, he opposes to the Spirit of Gravity and the Military Parade and Nationalism? I guess what I'm asking is if your epistemologies influenced a priori your analysis or if your take on dance sprung from the assemblage of materials itself?

    2. You say: "were the dancers displayed as role models for the ideal submissive subject and their show can be interpreted as politics of emotion attempting to evoke a 'sense of belonging to Spain' in their
    audience." There is am ambiguity that could be worthwhile exploring. Were the dancers and dances portrayed in a such a way as to elicit a sense of them (dancers and dances) belonging to Spain or the African audience belonging to Spain? What's the connection, in the specific case of the "Sección Femenina in Equatorial Guinea", between Spanish nation-building and Spanish Colonialism? What is it about "bailes y cantos folclóricos" that politically was thought to be helpful in keeping such connection active? (which is not new to Franquismo)

    Very interesting topics and material.

    Carlos Padrón

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  12. Cécile StehrenbergerMarch 31, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    Carlos, Thank you very much for your interesting questions. I try to answer some of them here:

    My epistemological standpoints are defined (temporarily) by the ever changing ways I was/am gendered and racialized, the ways my existence was/is shaped by class, heteronormativity, physical ability, and “national cultures”. Those factors influence my reading of the sources – e.g. what instruments I use in my analysis (whose specters get to haunt me). The analysis itself however is indeed one more factor that influences my epistemological standpoints, not least because it leads to changes in the factors I mentioned first (class, race, gender, “national culture”).
    I believe that in dance, just like in written speech-acts there is differal and spacing that creates an “openness of meaning” of the danced signs. Therefore danced speech-acts say always something else or a ‘supplementary more’ than intended. – Yes, it is Derrida’s concept of différance that I am working with. I am also interested in Bataille’s idea of dance as a moment of loss and unproductive expenditure, as excess. But then I also believe with Badiou that dance can be the other of the military parade because it can be the opposite of excess, the “disobedience to the momentum” and the resistance to gravity. But I also think that dance can be the military parade, ‘dancing machines’ can turn into territorialized warmachines, when they are incorporated by the State (to speak with Deleuze/Guattari).

    2. The dancers were portrayed as belonging to Spain. But it was rather the qualities of rhythm and the “fetish of tradition” (McClintock) than the dancers’ role-modeling that made the performances be an application of politics of emotion. Apart from those ‘emotional’ qualities of Folklore it was also its educational value attested to it by the Sección Femenina, which made Folklore an ideal tool in “civilizing” the population (one of the most important elements of colonial politics): Pilar Primo de Rivera said in a public speech in 1948: “España no cantaba, y queremos hacer de España un país musical. Porque la música afina la sensibilidad, educa y cultiva el espíritu“.
    There are many ways in which the Sección Femenina’s work in Equatorial Guinea was nationbuilding through colonial politics. One is foreign policy: The international community became in the 1950’s ever more critical of Spain still holding on to its colonies. Against this critic, through the performances of the Coros y Danzas the Francoregime presented itself as a benevolent colonial power. At the same time were the Coros y Danzas performances only the first steps in the Sección Femenina’s contribution to governing the colonial population – In 1964 the organization started to establish permanent institutions in Equatorial Guinea (escuelas de hogar, colegios, catedras ambulantes etc.).

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