Against Autonomy: Global Dialectics of Cultural Exchange
This book investigates "cultural instruments," meaning normative forms of analysis and practice that are central to Western culture and in the course of their history came to be ways of understanding and controlling different cultures. Examples are: notions of autonomy and the division of intellectual, social, cultural, and aesthetic practices; ideas of otherness (taking forms like Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft, négritude, and afrocentrism); cultural and aesthetic forms such as tragedy, mimesis, self, mind/body; certain modes of history and memory; and particular forms of discourse such as science, philosophy, and literature.
The book explores the interlocking histories of cultural instruments from antiquity to the early Enlightenment and their instrumental use and reworking by different cultures, moving from Europe to Africa and the Americas, especially the Caribbean. In the process, the author gives close readings of works by a wide range of authors: Balboa, Balbuena, Brathwaite, Calvino, Carpentier, Cervantes, Césaire, Depestre, Descartes, Eltit, Fanon, Freud, Gombrowicz, Harris, Kane, Kipling, Marshall, Walcott.
Many other authors' works become part of the book's general argument about how cultures are made, how they figure both themselves and other cultures, and how they mutually interact (when they do) through productions of what the author calls the "fictive imagination" what in the West is called "art" but in different cultures may take different names and serve different purposes.
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Achebe actual aesthetic African American analytico-referential Anzaldúa argued argument Aristotle asserts Azorín Barbados become body Brathwaite C. L. R. James Caliban called Caribbean century Césaire Chapter claim colonized Cortés Cosmos critics Descartes different cultures discourse Don Quijote dream echo Enlightenment Europe European experience explored Fanon fictive imagination flowers forms fragments Freud geography Gombrowicz human idea identity imposition Indian indigenous instruments island issue Kamau Brathwaite language later literature living mark meaning memory ment metaphor mimesis mind modern Mphahlele myth nation nature négritude neocolonial Nietzsche nostalgia novel particular perhaps poem poet poetry political Postel practice psychoanalysis reality reason Reiss relation remarks rhythms sense Shango social society sparrow story Sycorax T. S. Eliot telescope Tenochtitlán things thought tion tradition tragedy tragic translation Unamuno understanding universal Venice voice Walcott western words writing wrote