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Undoing Empire

Race and Nation in the Mulatto Caribbean

2003
Author:

José F. Buscaglia-Salgado

Undoing Empire

A revelatory account that places mulatto experience at the center of Caribbean history

Undoing Empire brings to light the story of what José F. Buscaglia-Salgado terms mulataje—the ways Caribbean aesthetics offer the possibility of the ultimate erasure of racial difference. Undoing Empire gives a broad panorama stretching from the complex politics of medieval Iberian societies to the beginning of direct U.S. hegemony in the Caribbean at the end of the nineteenth century.

Undoing Empire is destined to be an indispensable work for readers who venture in the modern ethnohistory of the Americas and the Caribbean. Focusing on the Haitian Revolution and other important events staged in the Island of Hispaniola, José Buscaglia-Salgado studies the dynamics of Mulatto power.

Antonio Benitez-Rojo, author of The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective

This ambitious book brings to light the story of what José F. Buscaglia-Salgado terms mulataje—the ways Caribbean aesthetics offer the possibility of the ultimate erasure of racial difference. Undoing Empire gives a broad panorama stretching from the complex politics of medieval Iberian societies to the beginning of direct U.S. hegemony in the Caribbean at the end of the nineteenth century.

Buscaglia-Salgado begins with an examination of Washington Irving’s “American Columbiad” as an act of historical and territorial plundering. He then traces the roots of mulatto society to the pre-1492 Iberian world, not only finding a connection between the Moors of “Old Spain” and the morenos—the blacks and mulattoes of the New World—but also offering a profound critique of creole and imperial discourses. Buscaglia-Salgado reads the pursuit and contestation of what he terms the European Ideal in colonial texts, architecture, and paintings, then identifies the mulatto movement of “undoing” the Ideal in the wars that shook the nineteenth-century Caribbean from Haiti to Cuba, arguing that certain projects of national liberation have moved contrary to the historical claims to freedom in the mulatto world.


Undoing Empire

José F. Buscaglia-Salgado is assistant professor of modern languages and comparative literature and director of Cuban and Caribbean Programs at the University at Buffalo.

Undoing Empire

Undoing Empire is destined to be an indispensable work for readers who venture in the modern ethnohistory of the Americas and the Caribbean. Focusing on the Haitian Revolution and other important events staged in the Island of Hispaniola, José Buscaglia-Salgado studies the dynamics of Mulatto power.

Antonio Benitez-Rojo, author of The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective

Undoing Empire offers a comprehensive and sophisticated analysis of the politics of race.

M. E. Perry, author of Gender and Disorder in Early Modern Seville

Undoing Empire is impressive for its breadth and depth, and for how the author draws together over five hundred years of history. The book makes a significant contribution to postcolonial studies of race, culture, and nation in the Americas.

Hispanic Journal

Undoing Empire provides a wide historical and cultural survey of the Spanish reconquista, discovery and colonization of the Americas. This book constitutes an outstanding and crucial contribution to the field of Caribbean studies from a deep cultural studies perspective. This opera prima reflects Buscaglia-Salgado’s deep understanding of Carribbean cultural and historical processes. Undoubtedly, it is a book that will have a great impact and stimulate debates and dialogues amid Caribbean scholars for years to come.

The Americas

Tracing the movement of Caribbean aesthetics.

American Historical Review

Undoing Empire

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

ONE Tales ofthe Alhambra:Washington Irving and the Immaculate Conception of America
TWO Contesting the Ideal:From the Moors ofHispania to the Morenos of Hispaniola
THREE Bartolomé de Las Casas at the End of Time; or, How the Indies Were Won and Lost
FOUR The Creole in His Labyrinth: The Disquieting Order ofthe Being Unbecoming
FIVE Undoing the Ideal:The Life and Passion of the Mulatto
SIX Moors in Heaven:A Second Columbus and the Return of the Zaharenian Curse

Notes

Index