Jon Beasley-Murray: Research
current projects | book | dissertation
| disciplines | multitudes
| posthegemony | continental theory
| chronicles | reviews
I work on Latin American Studies and social and political theory. My aim is
for Latin Americanism to inform theory and vice versa.
The following texts are drafts, usually towards publication. Please do not
quote them without my permission (which I am usually happy to give; failing
that, I can sometimes point you towards a version which you can quote).
More importantly, I would be pleased to hear any comments, suggestions, or
criticism you might have arising from these texts. Send them to
[NB I am am aware that not all of these links work. Please contact me if you are experiencing any problems.]
I have a research blog, Posthegemony. Comments welcomed.
I am working on three book projects:
- The Latin American Multitude
- American Ruins
- Projections: Cinema and Latin America
I am also currently interested in topics such as "bad Latin American literature"
My first book, Posthegemony, will be coming out from the University of Minnesota Press in 2009. Here it is in draft version:
Posthegemony is a revised version of my dissertation,
Posthegemony: Cultural Theory and Latin America, October 10th, 1492 - April
13th, 2002. The dissertation is available via UMI (publication number AAT 3129061), but here it is in .pdf format:
- "Arguedasmachine" (.pdf file). "I offer another Arguedas from the one presented by the critical canon: an Arguedasmachine that 'nobody has observed.' This Arguedasmachine is hard at work fabricating a techno-indigenism that both separates and presses together the various elements of Peruvian culture, [. . .] but it finally breaks down by becoming fully immanent to the affective flows on which it operates."
- "Modern Languages
are in Crisis: and it's a good thing, too". Pretty much as the title
says. This paper argues that there are only two things wrong with Modern Languages:
they are modern; and they are languages.
- "The Intellectual and the State:
Modernismo and Transculturation from Below". "In this paper I take five
representative modernist intellectuals--José Martí, José
Enrique Rodó, Rubén Darío, José Vasconcelos, and
Fernando Ortiz--and briefly examine some of their key works in the light of
this problematic of the intellectuals relationship with the state. These
figures are representative rather than typical, in that they present a range
of possible strategies or conceptions of the role of the intellectual. This
is less a history of modernist intellectuals (still less a history of the
modern state) than it is a typology of relations between the state and intellectuals
within modernism. It is also, however, a typology of theories of transculturation
in that the idea of transculturation arose within modernism as a conceptual
vehicle that stood in for the notion of intellectual relative autonomy from
- "New Novels, Old Narratives:
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Latin America". "I will argue that this failure [to understand the new novel] stems from the fact that the standard narrative on the Latin American new novel took the form of a nostalgia attendant upon that narrative's metropolitan positioning. Criticism was caught in the contradictory position of hailing a new cultural form while endlessly reducing it to its European or US derivations or to its reflection or expression of some primary socio-political reality. This contradiction was encapsulated in the critical notion that the new novel somehow replayed one or both of two revolutions--the aesthetic revolution of European modernism or the Cuban revolution in Latin America itself. In either case, culture came to stand in for a displaced revolution and thus to assume a compensatory function that was simultaneously a fetishised position arousing excitement but also memorialising lack."
- "In Argentina".
This is a draft translator's introduction to Beatriz Sarlo's Escenas
de la vida posmoderna (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2001). "Sarlo offers an alternative to the celebrations and lamentations of
postmodernity found elsewhere. This is because, in Argentina, she takes an
oblique approach to the political issues at stake, an approach filtered through
Argentina's own political history and also through her own history of cultural
and political engagement."
- "Questions". This
is a draft translation of the introduction to Beatriz Sarlo's Escenas
de la vida posmoderna (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2001,
as Scenes from Postmodern Life).
- "The Common Enemy: Tyrants and Pirates". An essay on Carl Schmitt's The Nomos of the Earth. "The common enemy has its own history, which Schmitt, in what is almost an aside, traces through the figures of the tyrant and the pirate: 'For the order of the land, the tyrant was the common enemy, just as, for the order of the sea, the pirate was the enemy of the human race' (65). Whereas the concept of tyranny refers to a structure of power within given borders, the concept of piracy invokes a refusal to accept borders or territorial limits. The concept of tyranny enables an analytic of the exercise of state power within a given polity; the concept of piracy threatens the authority of states at their geographical margins."
- "Alternative Globalizations: From the Fiction
of Order to the Experience of Joy". An extended review of George Monbiot's
The Age of Consent. "Social movements and communities are affected already by globalization's "breaking [of] the social bonds"
that tie us. They have no need of the "guardian-philosophers" that
Monbiot rightly decries (117); but why should they want his own Guardian philosophising so enchanted with the bureaucracy of utopia? The apparatuses
Monbiot puts forward to harness the energy of globalization serve also to
tame by giving order to the mutation he otherwise celebrates."
- "Globalization from Below: The Chicano/Latino
Experience". A review essay of Mike Davis's Magical Urbanism:
Latinos Reinvent the US City and Augustín Laó-Montes and
Arlene Dávila's Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York.
"Both Daviss Magical Urbanism and Laó-Montes and
Dávilas Mambo Montage are engaged in the attempt to outline
and differentiate what we could call a globalization from below,
to understand it on its own terms however much it may be (perhaps inexorably)
bound up with the globalization from above that is generally the focus of
so much contemporary discussion. Latinos and Chicanos are, for all these authors,
the agents of what could potentially be a democratizing, liberating globalism
whose first port of call and primary battleground (they suggest) is found
in the major cities of the USA."
- "The Constitution of Society: Pinochet,
Postdictatorship, and the Multitude". "Via an analysis of Pinochet's legal
defence in the context of recent Chilean history . . . I suggest that it is
the multitude that founds society. The multitude is the 'defining concept'
of modernity, in that it grounds the constitution of popular citizenship';
it is also the emergent subject of postmodernity. The pressing political question
remains, however, as to whether or not the multitude can found a society without
- "El arte de la fuga: Cultural Critique, Metaphor,
and History". A discussion and critique of the work of Chilean cultural
critic Nelly Richard.
- "Modernity and
Globalisation from Below in Chile".
- "Radical Philosophy?" (.pdf file). A review essay dealing with the concept of "radical democracy," and which concludes "We are already beyond hegemony, and whatever else radicalism might be, surely it does not involve rescuing liberalism, whether in its purer, idealist, form or in its corrupt, democratizing, incarnations."
- "The Beginning (or Perhaps the End) of Politics: Laclau and Populism". A review essay, which concludes "there is no doubt that Laclau's is an extremely important contribution to political theory. He demonstrates, through exemplification, the workings of populism and, by extension, hegemonic politics. But he also reveals the limits of that politics, not least the way in which it defuses and undoes political difference. Our current epoch is best described as posthegemonic, in which any dialectic between politics and administration is decisively broken. As such we need now theories of posthegemony rather than attempts to shore up an illusory hegemony."
- "Listening to the General: Pinochet and
the End of Ideology".
- "Towards an Unpopular Cultural Studies:
The Perspective of the Multitude". "It may seem that cultural studies
is already unpopular enough. Even those who would identify themselves with
its project have for some time now seen reason to criticize it, not least
for the fact that a supposedly marginal, anti-disciplinary force has so easily
and so quickly been disciplined and even found itself at the center in some
locations or institutions. Cultural studies has permeated a number of disciplines
and legitimated some new approaches within those disciplines, without ever
really reorganizing disciplinary work. The traces of cultural studies are
increasingly widespread, if more as sentiment than (as Fredric Jameson suggests)
desire, and likewise a sense of more or less vague dissatisfaction with its
accomplishments can also be felt, even among its proponents. Indeed, cultural
studies' original critics--those who argued for a restrictive notion of culture
as high culture, for instance--have lost ground, while critiques internal
to cultural studies itself pose more serious objections to the way in which
this expanded notion of culture operates. A space has opened up in which the
various critiques of cultural studies--from inside and from outside--could
perhaps contribute to a productive dialogue concerning how to pass through
cultural studies as it is currently constituted toward some other project
or some other configuration of the project of cultural studies. The question
now is: what lies beyond cultural studies?"
- "Subaltern Politics: Solidarity and
Critique (Or, Four Theses on Posthegemony)". An attempt "to
investigate the consequences for intellectual and political work (or, to put
this another way, for the politics of intellectual work) of the theory and
the condition of posthegemony." The paper is "particularly concerned
with the contributions to the debate over posthegemony provided by Alberto
Moreiras on the one hand and Michael Hardt and Toni Negri on the other."
Also attempts to outline the contours of a multitudinous Latin Americanism.
(In Adobe Acrobat format.)
- "The Blinding Light: Eva Perón and
Star Theory". This essay is a reconsideration of so-called "star theory"
prompted by an examination of the figure of Evita Perón. I show that
star theory has divorced stars from the state; indeed, this was axiomatic
for Richard Dyer's important early formulation of star theory. However I argue
that study of the figure of Evita Perón, a star intimately connected
with the (Peronist) Argentine state, might force theorists to reconsider this
separation. Analysis of the ways in which Evita functioned within Peronism
shows how she stood in for the state, and helped to bring order to the multitude,
the unruly subject upon which Peronism (ambivalently) depended. This conversion
of the (unruly) multitude into the (loyal) people was accomplished through
the deployment of what I call the "balcony effect," a particularly cinematic
display of power.
- "Pierre Bourdieu". An overview,
biography, and critique. "Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) worked in or influenced
a remarkably broad range of disciplines, including Philosophy, Anthropology,
Education, Sociology, and Politics, as well as Literary and Cultural Theory.
. . . Even when he had become arguably Frances most powerful and influential
intellectual--one of the last of the great French theorists--installed in
the prestigious Collège de France, Bourdieu remained a maverick. And
it was precisely the complex nature of the connections between social position
and political or, more controversially, aesthetic dispositions that lay at
the center of much of his work."
- "Value and Capital in Bourdieu and Marx".
"This paper examines the concept of cultural capital within the framework
of Bourdieu's project to construct a 'general theory of the economy of practices.'
. . . I propose a means by which to conceive of a theory of cultural capital
along lines suggested but not followed by Bourdieu, to incorporate a theory
of exploitation and to resolve what is a significant ambivalence that runs
through Bourdieu's work as a whole."
- "Deleuze: Making Materialism Matter".
"In this essay, I examine Deleuze and Guattari's relation to historical materialism,
to argue that they renew rather than discard it altogether, challenging us
to conceive of a more historical and more material historical materialism,
upon which to refound a theory of ideology. I focus on their joint work, and
in particular on A Thousand Plateaus."
- "Whatever Happened to Neorealism? Bazin, Deleuze, and Tarkovky's Long Take ". "This
paper investigates the notion of the cinematic real in the wake of neorealism
and the theories of André Bazin and Gilles Deleuze, thus also re-situating
Deleuze within the tradition of film theory and criticism."
- "Ethics as Post-Political Politics".
"This paper examines the prophetic nostalgia of Toni Negri, theorist of revolution
in the crisis of the post-political, whose project is the construction of
an ethics in the era of what Charlie Blake has termed the 'anti-ethics' of
the 'ecstasy of annihilation'"
- "Size Matters: The Literary Ambitions
of the Modern State". 9th December 2002, a reflection on the Iraqi
and other dossiers. "Has there ever been such a display of literary productivity?
We are told that, to prove its claim that it no longer possesses any so-called
"weapons of mass destruction," the Iraqi state has now provided
the United Nations with a "dossier" of 11,807 pages detailing its
arms programmes. The dossier is in both English and Arabic, in hard copy and
on CD-rom; on display to journalists in Baghdad before being packed up into
boxes and sent to New York, its various stacked volumes completely covered
a large table. This is some dossier. Little wonder that the BBC should comment
that 'it could take months to wade through.'"
- "The Coup will be Televised: Hugo Chávez's
Downfall and the Venezuelan Multitude". A chronicle and analysis
of the Venezuelan coup, 11th April 2002. "Venezuelas coup (and
coup it is, make no mistake) took place in the media, fomented by the media,
and with the media themselves the apparent object of both sides contention.
But while South Americas longest-standing democracy was brought down
in the confused glare of media spectacle, any attempt to turn this spectacle
into narrative or analysis must also take into account, first, oil and, second,
the general breakdown of Latin American political legitimacy, of which this
coup has been just one (particularly bloody) symptom."
- "The Revolution will not be Televised:
Hugo Chávez's Return and the Venezuelan Multitude". A chronicle
and analysis of the Venezuelan counter-coup, 13th April 2002. "Venezuelas
return to democracy (and democracy it is, make no mistake) took place despite
a self-imposed media blackout of astonishing proportions. A huge popular revolt
against an illegitimate regime took place while the countrys middle
class was watching soap operas and game shows; television networks took notice
only in the very final moments, and, even then, only once they were absolutely
forced to do so. Thereafter television could do no more than bear mute witness
to a series of events almost without precedent in Latin Americaand perhaps
elsewhereas a repressive regime, result of a pact between the military
and business, was brought down less than forty-eight hours after its initial
triumph. These events resist representation and have yet to be turned into
narrative or analysis (the day after, the newspapers have simply failed to
appear), but they inspire thoughts of new forms of Latin American political
legitimacy, of which this revolt may be just one (particularly startling)
- "Losing the Peace in El Salvador".
- A review of Paula Alonso, Between Revolution
and the Ballot Box: The Origins of the Argentine Radical Party (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2000).
- A review of Jens Andermann and William Rowe (eds.), Images of Power: Iconography, Culture and the State in Latin America (New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2005).
- A review of William H. Beezley and Linda
A. Curcio-Nagy (eds.), Latin American Popular Culture: An Introduction
(Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2000).
- A review of Jeffrey Belnap and Raúl
Fernández (eds.), José Martí's "Our America": From
National to Hemispheric Cultural Studies (Durham: Duke University Press,
- A review of John Beverley, Subalternity
and Representation: Arguments in Cultural Theory (Durham, NC and London:
Duke University Press, 1999).
- A review of Anny Brooksbank Jones and
Ronaldo Munck (eds.), Cultural Politics in Latin America (London:
Macmillan; New York: St Martin's Press, 2000).
- A review of Hernando Calvo Ospina, Bacardi:
The Hidden War (London: Pluto Press, 2002).
- A review of Nikki Craske, Women and
Politics in Latin America (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press,
- A review of Patricia D'Allemand, Latin
American Cultural Criticism: Re-Interpreting a Continent (Lampeter:
Edwin Mellen Press, 2000).
- A review of Paul Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).
- A review of Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
- A review of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri,
Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000).
- A review of Michael A Hayes and David Tombs
(eds.), Truth and Memory: The Church and Human Rights in El Salvador and
Guatemala (Leominster: Gracewing, 2001).
- A review of Katherine Hite, When the
Romance Ended: Leaders of the Chilean Left, 1968-1998 (New York: Columbia
University Press, 2000).
- A review of Peter Linebaugh and Marcus
Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary
Atlantic (London: Verso, 2000).
- A review of María López Vigil,
Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic (London: CAFOD, 2000).
- A review of Francine Masiello, The Art
of Transition (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2001).
- A review of Philip D. Oxhorn and Graciela
Ducatenzeiler (eds.), What Kind of Democracy? What Kind of Market? Latin
America in the Age of Neoliberalism (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania
State University Press, 1998).
- A review of John Perivolaris, Puerto
Rican Cultural Identity and the Work of Luis Rafael Sánchez
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Department of Romance Languages,
- A review of Malcolm K. Read, Educating the Educators: Hispanism and its Institutions (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2003).
- A review of Arthur Redding, Raids
on Human Consciousness: Writing, Anarchism, and Violence (Columbia:
U. of South Carolina P, 1998).
- A review of Derek Robbins, Bourdieu
and Culture (London: Sage, 2000).
- A review of Julio Rodríguez-Luis
(ed.), Re-Reading José Martí: One Hundred Years Later
- A review of Luis Roniger and Mario Sznajder
(ed.s), Constructing Collective Identities and Shaping Public Spheres:
Latin American Paths (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1998).
- A review of María Josefina
Saldaña-Portillo, The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas
and the Age of Development ( Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).
- A review of Luis A. Salinas, The London
Clinic (Santiago de Chile: LOM, 1999).
- A review of Nicholas Saunders (ed.), Icons
of Power: Feline Symbolism in the Americas (London: Routledge, 1998).
- A review of Doris Sommer (ed.), The
Places of History: Regionalism Revisited in Latin America (Durham:
Duke University Press, 1999).
- A review of Doris Sommer (ed.), Bilingual Games: Some Literary Investigations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).
- A review of Michael Taussig, My Cocaine Museum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
- A review of Yvonne Unnold, Representing
the Unrepresentable: Literature of Trauma under Pinochet in Chile (New
York: Peter Lang, 2002).
- A review of Kenneth Wishnia, Twentieth-Century
Ecuadorian Narrative: New Readings in the Context of the Americas (Lewisburg:
Bucknell University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1999).
- A review of George Yúdice, The Expediency of Culture: Uses of Culture in the Global Era (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).
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August 31, 2008