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“This is an important and strikingly original work on a topic of enormous contemporary importance. By bringing disparate phenomena together and insisting that they may all be analyzed as examples of the unexamined perpetuation of developmentalist narratives in discourses and practices of resistance in the Americas, María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo allows a fresh light to be shed on what appeared to be well-trodden ground.”—James Ferguson, coeditor of Culture, Power, Place: Explorations in Critical Anthropology — N/A
"María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo takes discourse studies where it needs to go and where few humanists are able to take it: toward an effective interfacing with political economy and ethnography. The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development sits at the center of the hemispheric paradigm that has been emerging in American Studies. Saldaña-Portillo is one of the key new architects of that paradigm."—Mary Louise Pratt, author of Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation — N/A
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Reading governmental reports, memos, and policies, Saldaña-Portillo traces the arc of development narratives from its beginnings in the 1944 Bretton Woods conference through its apex during Robert S. McNamara's reign at the World Bank (1968–1981). She compares these narratives with models of subjectivity and agency embedded in the autobiographical texts of three revolutionary icons of the 1960s and 1970s—those of Che Guevara, Guatemalan insurgent Mario Payeras, and Malcolm X—and the agricultural policy of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Saldaña-Portillo highlights a shared paradigm of a masculinist transformation of the individual requiring the "transcendence" of ethnic particularity for the good of the nation. While she argues that this model of progress often alienated the very communities targeted by the revolutionaries, she shows how contemporary insurgents such as Rigoberta Menchú, the Zapatista movement, and queer Aztlán have taken up the radicalism of their predecessors to retheorize revolutionary subjectivity for the twenty-first century.
María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo is Associate Professor in the English Department and Ethnic Studies Program at Brown University.
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