Latin American Essay: Literary Constructions of Cultural Identity

Freddy Chachagua
2008 International Journal of Bahamian Studies  
This article provides a careful look at three essays that deal directly with the relationship between cultural identity and the specificity of the Latin American essay, reviewing and questioning the prevailing understanding of the Latin American essay's origin. This leads to a comprehensive contextualization of works by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, and Jose Marti that goes beyond monolithic literary studies. Philosophers such as Hume, Kant, Jefferson, and Hegel seemed
more » ... , and Hegel seemed to decide that the presence of a written literature was the signal measure of the potential, innate humanity of all non-white people in Western cultures. So insistent did these racist allegations prove to be, at least from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, that it is fair to describe the subtext of the history of native and black letters as this urge to refute the claim that because blacks [and natives] had no written traditions, they were bearers of an inferior culture. (Gates, 1987)
doi:10.15362/ijbs.v10i0.37 fatcat:fjygcpv7sndkjdwqzes4kjiez4