Cartas de América #9: REPENT! (and have it notarized)

In 1552, Bartolomé de las Casas proposed material restitution for involvement in colonization and indigenous enslavement as a condition for absolution. Let’s talk about that. Cartas de América #9: REPENT! (and have it notarized)

Cartas de América #8: in which even my Latin America newsletter is about Virginia

I didn’t want to take a deep dive into history or current events this time. I just wanted to celebrate that little corner of América today. RFK Stadium when Jaime Moreno was everybody’s hero. The Wafle Shop spelled just like that. Four Mile Run where you don’t need a goddamn permit to play soccer. BilingualContinue reading “Cartas de América #8: in which even my Latin America newsletter is about Virginia”

Cartas de América #7: all thinkpieces should be written in octava real

It’s not just that the Spanish lost the war. This poem is about how wrong they were to have fought it in the first place. … All of which is to say, don’t let anybody tell you the Spanish didn’t know what they were doing. Don’t let anybody remind you to judge people by theContinue reading “Cartas de América #7: all thinkpieces should be written in octava real”

Cartas de América #6: feminist nun manifestos and other viceregal drama

In today’s issue of my LatAm newsletter: This 17th-century nun was a savant, playwright, poet, intellectual, and international superstar. You won’t believe what happens next. Cartas de América #6: feminist nun manifestos and other viceregal drama

Cartas de América #5: one hundred years of my problematic fave

“You’ve done in about forty-five minutes what it took literary critics years of arguing to solve,” I told them. “Magical realism” is a marketing term more than anything, but my students got what García Márquez was getting at in the course of a paragraph. Take something wild and tell it truthfully, as if it wereContinue reading “Cartas de América #5: one hundred years of my problematic fave”

Cartas de América #4: teaching culture with the Nacirema

I like this lesson not just because it brings out the creativity in my students, or because it gives us all a laugh, but because it makes us ask a really important question about “cultural learning.” What’s it for? I used the Nacirema article to criticize the Maya one, urging students to de-exoticize their readingContinue reading “Cartas de América #4: teaching culture with the Nacirema”

Cartas de América #3: my favorite language is the one I forgot

I may not have retained Quechua from my professor, but I learned how much I had to learn from him. That’s why I look back on that class with such gratitude. It fundamentally changed my attitude toward language learning, which I used to consider mainly in terms of grammar manipulation and vocabulary translation. There’s onlyContinue reading “Cartas de América #3: my favorite language is the one I forgot”

Cartas de América #2: Power and his people

We always want to believe that injustice is simply inconsistency, that punishing those weaker than us is simply not who we are, that it is a betrayal of our identity to exploit. In the second issue of my LatAm newsletter, I revisit an Irish-Basque-Catalan legislator (oh yes) who argued for Puerto Rican interests in theContinue reading “Cartas de América #2: Power and his people”

Cartas de América #1: learning empathy from Mister Danger

The Anglo-American media smugly denouncing the latest disaster as evidence of socialist harakiri should know that Venezuelans are perfectly aware that Mister Danger isn’t the villain of Doña Bárbara. They know it’s a story about domestic demons, not imperialist ambitions. He’s there, but he’s a sideshow. They know this because they’ve read it. They knowContinue reading “Cartas de América #1: learning empathy from Mister Danger”

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