Introducing Latinx Spaces

Archivo José Carlos Maríategui, Lima, Peru

Archivo José Carlos Maríategui, Lima, Peru

In September of 1926 José Carlos Mariátegui launched the preeminent publication Amauta. Elaborating the project’s orientation, Mariátegui explained, “This publication in the intellectual landscape does not represent a group. More precisely, it represents a movement, a spirit”. He recognized a current of sociopolitical thought in Peru that was just being articulated, and in Amauta, he sought to create a platform for this movement. Amauta was to serve as the voice of this movement—a space where thinkers could explore, identify, and unpack the issues that made up the Peruvian political climate.

Looking back at Amauta, we recognize the importance media held for Mariátegui. The primary aim of his publication was to create a substantive engagement with the thoughts, ideas, and sensibilities that made up the Peruvian day to day. This wasn’t an engagement of thinking at an abstract level, but as it made up Peru’s concrete reality. Mariátegui understood that in order to build a better society, there had to be a fuller engagement with the way Peru built and sustained their society. Amauta was to both develop sociopolitical thought and to make it widely accessible. 

Today, as we launch Latinx Spaces, we too recognize the role media plays in crafting politics. Specifically, we are a project born out of a concern for the manner current media shapes contemporary politics. The rise of “fake news”, Breitbart, and other right-winged publications has made apparent how harmful and vile media can be. Harm, however, is not exclusive to these entities. Careful scrutiny of everyday media processes reveals that Eurocentric culture is constantly privileged as solely legitimate while other forms of thinking and doing are deemed invalid. Media facilitates an environment where the occupation of public discursive and political spaces is culturally specific and exclusive. 

This isn’t to suggest, however, that thinking and doing are not happening outside of Eurocentric thought. Valuable work continues to be done by individual communities, academics, activists, artists, cultural centers, museums, and various others. However, the issue remains: their work continues to be both delineated and limited in scope. Media continues to impede the development of viable alternatives within the political sphere, embedding political subjects within the liberal/conservative dichotomy—a dichotomy that we feel ultimately (re)affirms a system of oppression and exclusion on a global scale.

Thus, we are faced with a critical question: how do we integrate other thinking and doing into the political sphere? For us, the disruption of a hegemonic political consciousness departs precisely from the thoughts and lived experiences of those who have been historically oppressed and excluded. If we turn to Latin American historical lineages, we find cultures that have grappled with issues of oppression and exclusion for five hundred years.

With this in mind, our project will look to rigorously engage Latin American cultures. Like Amauta, this will not only be an engagement at the level of ideas, but at the level of aesthetics—those dispositions and sensibilities that inform everyday understanding. Through our digital publication, Latinx Spaces, we hope to create a site that engenders a substantive engagement with these other knowledges.

Latinx Spaces will prominently feature Latinx arts and cultures. Our content will depart from Latinx positionalites, towards a space of political and intellectual dialogue. In doing so, however, we hope to avoid the pitfalls that befall identity projects. The goal is not assimilation, exclusivity, or even indoctrination, but the concrete development of pluriversal dialogues. While our content will be diverse, it will remain committed to one or both of these critical orientations:

  • To disrupt those metanarratives that continue to sustain systems of oppression and exclusion.  

  • To bring to light Latin American dispositions and sensibilities through the promotion of Latinx arts and cultures.

What form will this project take? Latinx Spaces will serve as a point of convergence of politics, music, film, literature, and art. It will have a wide array of contributors including, but not limited to, academics, artists, writers, musicians, and activists. As time goes, we anticipate the project will unfold in two very important ways. First, we hope to provide a platform for the work being done within Latinx arts and cultures. This platform will not only make this work more accessible, but cultivate sustained exposure. Second, we hope to establish a network of peoples engaged in this meaningful work—a network that in time will lead to greater political efficacy. 

- Aaron Jimenez