Narrative identity: Relating identity: José Martí and the idea of the cultural mestizaje
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At the end of the nineteenth century, one of the central categories of the national discoursebecame the opposition of tradition and modernity, of what is inner and what is foreign toa nation. The modern way of thinking in “either/or” terms found its expression also in thenotion of culture: either as a homogenous totality, or as a complete changeability. WhenJosé Martí brought up the question of the Latin American nature, the starting point for him was the colonial situation. In effect, he rejected the idea of the homogenous culturalidentity, and elaborated on the idea of the mestizaje as based in the historical past projectfor the future. The important thing is that according to Martí both the future and thepast are a matter of narration, while the narration becomes a type of “pluritopical hermeneutics”.The most significant factor is now the locus of enunciation as determined bothgeographically and historically, that is the cultural history of the land. Hence, the vision ofthe “natural” man, having a deep relationship with his land, and being changed by historicalinfluences as well. The heart of Martí’s project is the demand of creation, that insteadof the mimetic impulse, one should be driven by the principle of the autonomous activity“here and now”, within a geo-culturally determined point of view. This creation would notbe ex nihilo, but it would be a kind of re-creation, adaptation and translation, needed for“disenchant”, the myth of the national essence as a constant and consistent identity.
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