At the end of my trip to “Disneyland for Scholars,” I met up with Notorious Ph.D, Girl Scholar for an excellent lunch in Little India, where I learned all of the fascinating details about her research interests that she’s dying to share with the rest of you. (Trust me–it’s really smart stuff, very innovative, and the product of lots and lots of original archival research. Aren’t you all jealous?) You can’t know what her book is about specifically, but she’s asking for help in choosing an image for the cover, so go over and share your two cents.
Then, I spent the weekend in Orange County with Rad Readr and his family: Mrs. Readr, Mini-Rad, Marxist Deluxe, and their rescued greyhound Marcus. (The Readrs are old friends from back when Rad and I were on our first jobs. And yes, we ran on the beach twice, two mornings in a row–what fun it is to run at sea level since I train at 4,875 feet elevation!) The Readr family took me to an exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, “Of Rage and Redemption: the Art of Oswaldo Guayasamín” (1919-1999), an Ecuadorean artist whose works were filled with images of suffering human bodies in an effort to express the violence of colonialism:
Non-academic in style and subject matter, Guayasamín established his signature style of indigenismo which is especially recognized for its dramatic representation of the human figure. Defined in powerfully exaggerated proportions and forms, Guayasamín figures are charged with a range of emotions—from human dignity to grief, loss and anguish. Guayasamin said about his art, “My painting is to hurt, to scratch and hit inside people’s hearts. To show what Man does against Man.”
(Rad is originally from Ecuador and has a print signed by Guayasamín, whom he was introduced to once by a family member.) This exhibition was really fascinating to view in light of the “Territorial Crossings” conference I attended last week, which was broadly conceived as a conversation about broad comparative frameworks for the history of the colonial Americas, in which we were asked to consider “[w]hat kinds of questions are made possible only by thinking across territories, and what subjects of analysis best suit comparative or more broadly contextualized scholarship?” It seemed to me that the (obvious, perhaps) price of broad comparative histories is the loss of detail about the people who worked, suffered, and died–and the Guayasamín exhibition served as a reminder of this finer-grained side of the story of colonialism. Continue Reading »