Lower Modernity: Anthropophagy, Mestizaje, Transculturation and the Lower Senses

10:00, Friday 7 May 2021 (30 minutes)
Cristóbal Fabrizzio Barria Bignotti, Independent Scholar, Switzerland

This paper studies the role assigned to the so-called "lower senses" within the different theories that at the beginning of the 20th century proposed mestizaje as the main characteristic of Latin American culture. For the Argentine architect Angel Guido, Latin American architecture results from two traditions: one European and organized optically, the other indigenous and product of tactile knowledge. For the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade, the artist had to become an anthropophagus to integrate vernacular culture and Europeanising trends. The reference to the act of eating and flavors in de Andrade's poetry evidences that mestizaje was neither understood as a racial nor cultural phenomenon, but rather as a collapsing of these categories. Finally, the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz defends the olfactory diversity of tobacco as opposed to the gustatory alienation of sugar, understanding that diversification of flavors also implies social diversity. Analyzing the role of the "lower senses" in these authors allows us to recover the sensory dimension with which they saw the problem of mestizaje and also to overcome the idea that they were looking for a “Latin American identity”, instead we proposed the term "Latin American subjectivity", a term widely used at the time.

Centre alleman d'histoire de l'art, DFK