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Ignacio M. Sanchez Prado

Jan 4, 2022

Strategic Occidentalism

On Mexican Fiction, the Neoliberal Book Market, and the Question of World Literature

Northwestern University Press 2018

Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado is Professor of Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Film and Media Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. His areas of research include Latin American intellectual history, neoliberal culture, world literary theory, and Mexican cultural studies. He is the author and editor of several books, including Screening Neoliberalism: Mexican Cinema 1988-2012 and most recently Strategic Occidentalism: On Mexican Fiction, The Neoliberal Book Market, and the Question of World Literature (Northwestern UP, 2018).

Strategic Occidentalism examines the transformation, in both aesthetics and infrastructure, of Mexican fiction since the late 1970s. During this time a framework has emerged characterized by the corporatization of publishing, a frictional relationship between Mexican literature and global book markets, and the desire of Mexican writers to break from dominant models of national culture.

In the course of this analysis, engages with theories of world literature, proposing that “world literature” is a construction produced at various levels, including the national, that must be studied from its material conditions of production in specific sites. In particular, he argues that Mexican writers have engaged in a “strategic Occidentalism” in which their idiosyncratic connections with world literature have responded to dynamics different from those identified by world-systems or diffusionist theorists.

Strategic Occidentalism identifies three scenes in which a cosmopolitan aesthetics in Mexican world literature has been produced: Sergio Pitol’s translation of Eastern European and marginal British modernist literature; the emergence of the Crack group as a polemic against the legacies of magical realism; and the challenges of writers like Carmen Boullosa, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Ana García Bergua to the roles traditionally assigned to Latin American writers in world literature.

Bryant Scott is a professor of English in the Liberal Arts Department at Texas A&M University at Qatar.

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