Kusch En El Tropico: The Transit in Phagocytosis and Counterpoint in the Work of Irka Mateo

Rodolfo Kusch (1922-1979), an Argentine anthropologist/philosopher whose work has only recently begun to be translated into English, built and thought from an ethnographic archive built over years of engagement and participant observation of and with indigenous populations in Argentina and Bolivia. An important dimension of his work critiqued the investments of Argentine and Latin American urban intellectuals and elites (on the right and on the left) in Eurocentrism at the exclusion of a serious grappling with the ontological implications of writing from a locus of enunciation marked indelibly by the colonial encounter. This essay takes up Kusch’s formulation of fagocitación in thinking through an American subject and juxtaposes it to Cuban anthropologist Fenando Ortiz’s better-known notion of contrapunteo. Although both thinkers attempt to offer distinct models to address questions of cultural mixing, this essay suggests that we might appreciate the value of a diasporic location in our revisions of their views of what counts as authentic through a discussion of NY-based pioneering Dominican cultural worker, activist, folklorist, and singer IrkaMateo. A discussion of her biography, archival, and artistic labor as a woman folklorist and ethnographer will help develop a view of a feminist revision of projects of national cultural renewal, which transits as it does in Mateo’s case between the models of mixing present in the conceptualizations of Kusch and Ortiz. 

Carlos Ulises Decena, Associate Professor and Chair, Latino and Caribbean Studies // Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies // Rutgers University // cudecena@lcs.rutgers.edu
Investigador asociado, Observatorio Migrantes del Caribe (OBMICA), http://www.obmica.org/

Sponsored by the Ethnicity, Race, & Migration (ER&M) and Yale Program for LGBT Studies
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 4:00pm
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