The City of Translation: Poetry and Ideology in Nineteenth-Century Colombia

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Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. And how did these men proceed to dismantle a long-standing liberal-democratic state without derogating basic constitutional freedoms?

To answer those questions, Jose Maria Rodriguez Garcia investigates the emergence, development, and decline of what he calls "the reactionary city of translation"--a variation on, and a correction to, Angel Rama's understanding of the nineteenth-century "lettered city" as a primarily liberal and modernizing project. Most importantly, it examines a major Latin American nation, Colombia, whose long and complex lettered history is often bypassed by mainstream Latin Americanist discourse. Alonso, Morris A. This one does. Rodriguez Garcia brings remarkable rigor and insight to his examination of the nineteenth-century debates that defined the first decades of the Colombian republic.

Particularly significant are his penetrating reconstructions of conservative thought, a much neglected area since progressive historians often seem more interested in finding antecedents for their own ideas rather than taking seriously the arguments of Catholic imbued anti-liberalism. He also brings remarkable insight to the ways that notions of proper grammatical usage and belle-lettriste literature were early marshaled to support conservative, hierarchical notions of society and government.

In sum, this is an excellent book and a major contribution to nineteenth-century studies. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. The people and institutions I name here then are the ones that are most immediate to the emergence of the physical book, especially its final stage, than to the general intellectual and affective processes that made it possible. The research for this book was made possible by a generous grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, and by the support of Columbia University and New York University.

Some of the ideas in this book were discussed in presentations in several conferences and I benefited tremendously from those discussions. My colleagues from the Department of Music at Columbia University have offered generous support at different moments. I especially want to thank fellow ethnomusicologists Aaron Fox, Ellen Gray, and Chris Washburne for their generosity these past years. Louise Meintjes and Jairo Moreno have been key tricksters in helping me figure out what road to take.

Julio Ramos arrived at the final stages of this book and provided much needed conversation, advice, encouragement, and support in the long process of giving it closure. Some of the ideas in this book coalesced in courses I taught at Columbia University throughout the years on music, literature, and critical thinking in Latin America, on ethnomusicological thought in the nineteenth century, on music and politics, and on sound, the sacred, and the secular.

Ken Wissoker has been an excellent editor discussing ideas, doubts and guiding me in the whole process of producing a book in the university publishing system in the United States. As they say in English, the responsibility for the form and content of the book is, of course, mine. I have been fortunate to have had good teachers who have provided an effective intellectual environment that nurtured my interest in genealogies of thought and intellectual histories. She has been instrumental in developing modes of music research associated to action-participation in Colombia, a generous teacher, and close friend.

Even though our ideas about specific topics are frequently different, no other scholar or author has shaped my thought on politics and music as much as she has. But that means the presence of many ideas developed initially during the years of my doctoral degree stayed with me as lines of inquiry that coalesced in this book in a different and new form. Richard Bauman encouraged bringing together questions shaped by changing ideas on the popular that were taking place in Latin America in the s with changing ideas about folklore and sociolinguistics that were also taking shape in the same period in the United States.

I thank him for seeing and pointing out avenues of inquiry that eventually became central to this project. Beverly Stoeltje patiently and with good humor taught me about mediations between theory, expressive culture, ethnographic practice, and personal desires and quests. Her own borderland modes of bridging North and South have been central to the theoretical consolidation of my own work. She said that she thought the book might interest me. She has always linked affect, research, and university teaching in ways that are still baffling to me.

Bernardo has taught me that histories of knowledge and being are always about politics and that politics are about struggles, negotiation, debate, and controversy. His willingness to analyze, think, speak, and ask not necessarily in that order in the midst of very difficult and controversial political moments in the history of our lives in Medellin has been a crucial example.

Both taught me, in different ways, the craft and art in reason and the reason and art in craft-making.

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This book is for both of them in loving celebration of their lives. What was initially posed as a question soon became an affirmation. The apparent lack of documentation of a collected folk corpus has often led to the assertion that in the nineteenth century there were very few studies of folk expressions in Colombia.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Colombian philologists, poets, and writers from different regions of the country developed a corpus of written genres such as textual annotations on maps, customs sketches, enlightened travel writing, poetry, and novels imbued with local idioms, detailed philological analysis of local language usage, annotated reeditions of colonial indigenous grammars, histories of Colombian literature, among others, that included the depiction, theorization, or usage of local language and expressive practices.

What is revealed by such a disjuncture is that many of the acoustic dimensions of the colonial and early postcolonial archive are not presented to us as discrete, transcribed works or as forms neatly packaged into identifiable genres Tomlinson They are instead dispersed into different types of written inscriptions that transduce different audile techniques into specific legible sound objects of expressive culture. This book is about ontologies and epistemologies of the acoustic, particularly the voice, produced by and enmeshed in different audile techniques, in which sound appears simultaneously as a force that constitutes the world and a medium for constructing knowledge about it.

An acoustically tuned exploration of the written archive reveals that the documentation of local expressive aural practices was entangled in what was then understood as natural and civil histories as well as by emergent creative practices in the fine arts. It is thus difficult in this period to find separate folklore collections neatly packaged and understood as such.

In the process of inscribing such listenings into writing, the lettered men and it was mostly men of the period simultaneously described them, judged them, and theorized them.

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In the midst of such processes of recording sound in writing, what emerges is not only the possibility of exploring how the lettered elites conceived of sounds. By reading the archive against the grain, it is possible to speculate how indigenous peoples, Afrodescendants, and mestizos also conceived of such vocalizations.

Thus, rather than seeing the nineteenth century or the colony solely as the site of constitution of Western theories about the other, I prefer to understand it as a contested site of different acoustic practices, a layering of contrastive listenings and their cosmological underpinnings. The different practices through which such listenings have been historically inscribed, in bodies, on stone, on skin, and on paper, through rituals and through writing, are, to be sure, marked by highly unequal power in the constitution of the public sphere.

But that does not mean that their significance disappeared or was completely erased. Thus, in this book, the aural is not the other of the lettered city but rather a formation and a force that seeps through its crevices demanding the attention of its listeners, sometimes questioning and sometimes upholding, explicitly or implicitly, its very foundations. One of the elements that emerged as I explored the archive was that ideas about sound, especially the voice, were central to the very definition of life. The question of how to distinguish between human and nonhuman sounds became particularly important in a colonial context in which the question of such a boundary troubled, in different ways and for different reasons, the many peoples that originally populated, willingly came, or were forcefully brought to the Americas.

The current scholarly trend of searching for traces of the aural in the literary Picker ; Lienhard [r99o] , for the sound of the voice in different historical contexts and vocal genres Abbate ; B. Questions about how such a turn is historically traced, what fields of sound studies are privileged in tracing such a genealogy, and who the pioneering figures are differ from one scholar to another Sterne 2or2a; Feld ; Szendy Listening also appears as hidden behind other auras.

But such privileging of the gaze is increasingly questioned by rethinking in the history of the senses. This book builds on such work but inverts the emphasis on the relation between the written text and the mouth implied by the idea of the oral by exploring how the uses of the ear in relation to the voice imbued the technology of writing with the traces and excesses of the acoustic. My own work on nineteenth-century practices of listening in the midst of the transformation of colonial New Granada 3 to national independence from Spain, seeks to contribute to the historical scholarship on the relationship between listening and the voice as part of the history of the relation between the colonial and the modern.

This involved not only musical notation but also words about sound and aural perception, and recognizing the different historical ways in which technologies of the legible made and still make sound circulation possible. By inscription, following Lisa Gitelman , , I mean the act of recording a listening into a particular technology of dissemination and transmission in this case writing. But the inscription of sounds can also occur on the body, in different kinds of objects such as stones, waterfalls, or other entities of nature or of urban life, which are understood by different peoples as containing or indexing the sound archive Feld ,; Seeger ; Hill and Chaumeil Such a spectrality of sound also shows up in other ways.

And yet, the inscription of the acoustic seems to render that power as highly ambiguous. As I explore in this book, the use of writing as a technology of inscription and dissemination determines the history of the rise of folkloristics and the politics of language and popular song in the official canon.

But this is not only a problem of the formats of writing. What the limits of the format make evident is that the acoustic recognition of different practices of vocalization or sounds of natural entities associated with the idea of the voice exceeds their very inscription. Listening appears as the nomadic sense par excellence and the voice as highly flexible, an instrument that can be manipulated to position the relation between the body and the world in multiple ways Weidman The politics of regimentation of the voice are also multiple and often show us how the body and the voice do not necessarily coincide Connor ; Weidman Hearing voices thus frequently invokes the need to ontologically address implied questions about the cosmologies Schmidt or the ear Steege and the definition of life they bring forth.

The relation between the voice and the ear then implies a zoe, a particular notion of life that involves addressing different conceptions of the human and the boundaries between the human and nonhuman. In the colonial context of the Americas, where peoples from different places came together, such a definition of life through the voice was certainly a contested political issue.

For exploring such an issue, I use the term zoopolitics following Fabian Luduena in his deconstruction of the division between bios and zoe as present in the work of Foucault and Agamben, a term he takes from Derrida. Nature is not that upon which culture builds, but rather both terms, nature and culture, are mutually constituted through the politics of life. The history of the American conquest and genocide as well as the history of slavery in the region have been deeply entangled with the rise of a global, capitalist modernity.

For Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz such a history needed to be critically addressed through the interrelationship between the economic, juridical, cultural, biological, and aesthetic spheres as constituted by the changing historical politics of global economic exchange [] As affirmed by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, one of the effects of the key role of the Caribbean region in the articulation of a global modernity was its erasure from broad anthropological significance because its overarching history was not one that could be easily construed through an isolationist nativism This needs to be acknowledged as a significant aspect for rethinking the debate on colonial legacy and the formulation of indigenous studies in the North and the South.

Also, the history of the colonial in Latin America and the Caribbean is a central element of the renewed significance given to the debate on the contested nature of the person and of nature. According to Dipesh Chakrabarty , this implies a crucial redefinition of history by linking the political history of the person with the species history of the human with an urgency that it had never had before. In this book I explore the relation between the voice and the ear as a fragment of this broader history.

Such howls were used to understand the boundary or relation between the human and the nonhuman by Western travelers in one way, and by the bogas and other riverine peoples from the Caribbean, in another. These ideas on vitalist theories were developed among German and French scholars through intense and mostly unacknowledged exchanges with naturalists of the Americas, through writings and ideas about the region that circulated as part of the struggle between European nations over the appropriate interpretation of colonial history Nieto Olarte ; Canizares-Esguerra The place of the senses in defining the relation between the human and nonhuman is part of this long geophilo- sophical history.

Such a field functions as a mechanism through which the subaltern is simultaneously named as having a voice, yet such a voice is subordinated by the very same principles through which it is epistemically identified as other Martfn-Barbero [] ; Bauman and Briggs ; Ramos [] Candelario Obeso and Jorge Isaacs were the two Colombian intellectuals who compiled songbooks in the nineteenth century. His nonstandard orthography appears as a technique of transcription that pays special attention to the acoustic in a poetry that heavily critiques the lettered city and that highlights the limits of creolization.

His work is emblematic of a process of inscription that challenged the ideas of the lettered city and that heavily auralized the format of alphabetic writing. Isaacs, of Jewish descent and from the Andean-Pacific region of El Cauca, is one of the most cited authors in twentieth-century Colombian folkloristics due to his musically imbued fictional work, Maria. As we see, each of these intellectual figures is differently positioned by history and by political choice to the relation between the acoustic and its inscription, and as such they refunctionalize the ear into literary history in different ways.

What one sees is that not all lettered elites had the same historical relationship to the ear as that implied by the audiovisual history of the moderns. Rather, what emerges is a more diverse and contested history of the senses in the relation between listening, vision, orality, and the politics of inscription of sound than implied by the notion of the lettered city.

In the name of recognizing the other, it ends up historically using the same method the moderns created to incorporate alterity into its guise, and in the name of decolonizing, it actually recolonizes. One of the main means of accomplishing this spectral alterity of the modern is through the immunization of the voice through specific vocal technologies that entangle different ideas of the people. Chapter 4 is about the use of eloquence, etymology, and orthography as pedagogies of the voice aimed at producing an idea of orality and of music that created a notion of personhood valid for the nation-state.

Rufino Jose Cuervo , a Colombian philologist and colleague of Caro who wrote a large part of his work in Paris, became one of the most important etymologists of Latin America through his work on the history of words for the creation of his Diccionario de construccion y regimen de la len- gua castellana Dictionary of construction and regimentation of the Castilian language.

The most important archaisms were present in popular lore. In Latin America and the Caribbean, with the history of biological mixture, the prior had to be selectively determined. It involved not only addressing the place of indigenous languages in the nation but also the politics of highlighting Hispanic heritage while neglecting others in the description of the popular.

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If eloquence turned the multiple into one form of speech and one people , etymology provided the means to arrive at the definition of what or who that one should be through a careful process of vocal selection. Composer and poet Diego Fallon developed an orthographic musical notation as appropriate to the technological conditions of Colombian typography. According to Fallon, unlike the literary, which was mediated by the newspaper as a medium and the chronicle as a genre, music did not have the same means of dissemination.

His books show the extent to which alphabetic writing was acoustically understood as a mediation between sound and writing in this period in Colombia. Protection against something through the use of the elements that cause the threat is a basic mimetic principle in sorcery and magic Napier ; Taussig Roberto Esposito associates such a paradigm specifically with the constitution of Western modernity and the notion of community.

Even though for him language politics are central to the creation of an immunitary biopolitics in the name of community, he never associates that to the idea of orality. Rather it is a historical mode of audibility that emerges in divesting the voice of unwanted features while pretending to be speaking about it.

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But this is not the only form of voicing that one finds in the nineteenth-century archive. This also implies different conceptions of the ear. Thus entities that listen and entities that produce sounds are entangled in the relation between nature and culture and mutually produce each other— a theory of sound implies a listener, which in turn imagines a listener and an idea of reception of sound.

That is why frequently hearing is a method that gives us the keys for how to think different ontologies of the human and the nonhuman. The point is not to negate that the ear produces an ontology of the relation between the person and the world, but rather not to confuse that with our own notion of relationality. Such an assemblage circulates between different listening entities through different practices of inscription of sound: rituals, writing, acoustic events, and so forth that, in turn, are also heard. We can link this to the idea of transduction associated with the study of the senses.

The notion of transduction means the transformation of one form of matter or energy sound waves, light into another vibrations, biochemical transmitters, etc. To the contrary: Anthropology then is interested in equivocation, in the literal sense of inter esse, being in between, existing in the middle The question then does not consist in knowing who wrong and much less in knowing who cheats whom.

Equivocation in sum is not a subjective failure, but a dispositive for objectification. He critiques notions of both sound and ethnography as spheres that give access to truth through a process of immersion in their matter. The history of nineteenth-century comparativism in Latin America and the Caribbean followed different trajectories from those of Europe, even though both were mutually constituted in the exchange of ideas between them.

In some cases it was used to rearticulate new forms of exclusion through a racial- ized culturalism that used the comparative method to transform the politics of blood purity into cultural theories of discrimination chapters 2 and 4.

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In Colombia, listening to indigenous languages played a crucial role in recasting the juridical place of indigenous groups in the nation through the political theology of the nation-state see chapter 4. In this book, through the history of comparativism in the region, I question the conceptual, temporal, and spatial framing of this history by rendering it not solely as a European one but one produced in the global trade of ideas about expressive culture and the type of making and doing we call art in the relation between the colonial and the modern.

In nineteenth-century Colombia, two Colombian scholars, Ezequiel Uri- coechea rr88o andjorge Isaacs used and adapted comparative methods and ideas in their studies of indigenous languages in the transition toward the formulation of ethnography and linguistics as disciplines, and of indigenous expressive practices as a significant aspect of the literary and of expressive culture in general.

They did so as humanists invested in the development of the appreciation of the local, in order to answer questions about the nature and history of the American continent. Uricoechea was a Colombian naturalist and philologist who spent his life between Colombia, the United States, and several European countries. I explore how his work with indigenous languages was related to the question of the nature of the American continent and its geophilosophical significance for the emergence of indigenous linguistics and for an aesthesis of the local.

After the publication of Marta in his early twenties, Isaacs became a soldier who fought in the ranks of radical liberals against the conservative government but who never lost his passion for local popular expressive forms. Caro was nominally vice president but actually acting president of the nation between and In this chapter I analyze the significance of the political controversy between Isaacs and Caro and its legal implications for indigenous languages and peoples in the midst of redrawing the boundary lines between nature and culture, between the sound of languages and the politics of their inscription, and between war, politics, and the law.

Here the emerging tension between missionaries and ethnologists and their role in the national politics of indigeneity was central to defining the value of indigenous languages for the nation-state. The particular archival material explored here in each chapter is only a fragment of what I found.

When one listens to the historical archive, without looking for the genealogy of a particular musical genre, but rather simply exploring the way listening practices are found across different forms of writing, what emerges is a series of practices of listening and sounds that extend beyond our present-day ideas of what counts as a proper genre, music, or language.

Listening to vocalities was used to establish the historical divide between the colony and the postcolony by defining the nature of different peoples through theories of vocal propriety for the new nation-states. In the midst of very different political positions and ideas, the nineteenth- century intellectuals studied in this book were dealing with similar questions: if in the new nations all were to be deemed citizens and therefore had to be politically defined as persons, then what counted as a proper human voice?

How was that established in the midst of a colonial history that left a legacy of discourses and practices about the questionable validity of the natural history of the continent? How was the juridical status of humans who had historically been considered and treated as not belonging to the juridically valid political community of persons to be redefined? How was indigeneity, and the practice and study of indigenous expressive culture redefined through the politics of nationalism?

Thus while the questions explored here involve addressing the form the answers took by virtue of a particular archive in a particular place, many of these issues were also being considered and explored in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. The study of the relation between the history, the voice, and the lettered city is thus a geophilosophical problem, not just an epistemological one.

The relation between the ear and the voice explored in this book is part of this broader history. Thus many of his thoughts and observations on Colombia recorded in his unedited diary, remained unknown until well into the twentieth century Arias de Greiff Perhaps due to its more intimate nature, the diary gives us a glimpse of those things that unnerved Humboldt. Their eternal happiness, their good nutrition About this point we can make quite a few interesting psychological observations. All muscular effort decomposes more air in the lungs than during repose.

To bring more air into the lungs, it is also necessary to expel more vitiated air. That is why, in heavy work, the emission of cries and sounds is quite natural. If the type of work has a regular cadence wood cutting, rock drilling in mining, the setting of sails by sailors then a psychological factor is added.

The pleasure for cadence requires that the tones be expressed in a more determined way: Hau Hau. Ham, Ham. Halle, Halle Thus, the heavier the work, the more angry the screaming of the bogas, among whom the cadence will be affected frequently by caprice.

Al Hallaj- sufi poem (with English translation)

Especially, each bush from the shore that they can reach with the pole is saluted in the most improper fashion, the has rapidly turns into a bellowing ruckus, into a blasphemy The racket you hear uninterruptedly until you reach Santa Fe Bogota is as bothersome as the steps of the bogas on the roof of the champan, over which they stomp so loudly that frequently there is a threat of it collapsing. Our dogs needed many days to get used to this unbearable racket.

Their barks and howling increased the scandal. All the other adjectives used here 32 CHAPTER ONE metaphorically map themselves onto words that express a lack of emotional and bodily containment that are often associated with the irrational. We also hear the difficulty of deciphering a generic category of sound.

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Was this a lament or a joyful type of expression? Once sound is described and inscribed into verbal description and into writing it becomes a discursive formation that has the potential of creating and mobilizing an acoustic regime of truths, a power-knowledge nexus in which some modes of perception, description, and inscription of sound are more valid than others in the context of unequal power relations.

And yet, in these colonial contexts of intense contact, one has to wonder how the boundaries between one form of knowledge and another interact, even if it is in a context of unequal power relations. In this chapter I wish to explore the ways in which the perception of acoustic difference—that of the bogas, that of an exuberant natural world, and that of the riverine population along the Magdalena—was made sense of and mapped onto the practices of acoustic knowledge-making by Europeans, Creole elites, and the bogas.

Moreover, a description of mu- 34 CHAPTER ONE sic does not necessarily conform to its practice Perlman or constrain its capacity to affect different persons, even ones belonging to the same group, in radically different ways. Because of their role in connecting regions and peoples, transportation technologies in this period acted as communication technologies, conflating spatial and communicative regimes. In the colonial period in Colombia, boats were manned by bogas, or boat rowers, identified mainly as zambos by the eighteenth century, men of mixed Amerindian and African origin, who by then held a virtual monopoly on river transport and as such became central characters of the many types of passages initiated by travel.

It was also the route of entry into the Andes if one wished to go from the Caribbean into the larger South American Andean region by land instead of by sea. See figure 1. The bogas stood on top of these roofs, alternately pushing against or raising the long poles that they pressed against the bottom of the river to make the boats move. Depending on its size, each champan was manned by a crew of seven to eighteen bogas. Champan en el Rio Magdalena, Colombia, Coleccion Museo Nacional de Colombia. One day of navigation toward Bogota, upstream counter current for ten hours on a heavy champan, covered fifteen kilometers of navigable terrain.

The same vessel could cover thirty to forty kilometers a day when traveling downstream, north toward the Caribbean. Acoustic exchanges acquired a particular density due to the great amount of time travelers and bogas spent in close proximity.

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The nineteenth century was a crucial period for the constitution of the disciplinary formations that, in large measure, still persist until the present. The construction of natural sciences was itself mediated in good measure by travel literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 6 with the natural 36 CHAPTER ONE sciences in turn serving as a model for the disciplinization of musicology and comparative musicology at the end of the nineteenth century Clark and Reh- ding What are the practices of interpretation through which such sounding is described and comes to be associated with particular types of personhood and to particular ideas about nature?

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This comparison allows us to highlight some of the terms and traits that appear repeatedly across different testimonies, thus creating a historical account of a particular sound that was described, again and again, through similar acoustic interpretations. Auguste Gosselman, a Swedish botanist who traveled through Colombia between and and who published his travel book in wrote: When one of them [the bogas] pushes in a certain direction, the other has to do it in the opposite sense, after which he runs from one side to the other, howling like a dog, and in the midst of screams and whistles comes back in the opposite direction to initiate the chore again.

Thus, all day long, at a temperature that, in the shadows fluctuates between thirty and forty degrees [centigrade], Gosselman [] , As with Humboldt, the sound of the bogas is heard as a function of physical labor but is mimetically imagined as the sound of howling dogs. Charles Stuart Cochrane, a captain of the British navy, published his travel book Journal of Residence and Travels in Colombia during the Years and in London in and in Jena, Germany, that same year.

Cochrane traveled between Santa Marta and the Magdalena River on a small canoe through the cienaga marsh and canals that connected the river to the city. Upon reaching the Magdalena River he saw a large champan for the first time: A little before we entered the Magdalena, my notice was attracted by shouts and cries which proceeded from the bogas forming the crew of a large champan, alongside of which we presently found ourselves, the channel being barely wide enough to allow us to pass; we thus had an opportunity of witnessing the ridiculous gesticulations used by these people in the practice of their toilsome vocation.

They thus make fun of a custom which they would, nevertheless, think it wrong to omit and which no doubt originated in piety. Isaac F. These [the bogas] all assembled in the front open space, the forecastle; and one of them began a prayer, which all the rest finished. I could never determine whether this prayer was in Latin, Spanish or Lengua Franca.

Then, most of them sprung to the roof, seized their palancas poles , and commenced pushing against the bottom of the river, and walking toward the stern shouting Us! Their cry was tremendous. Oh for some method incapable of exaggeration, like the photographic process, to record it and compel belief! A pack of hounds may make as much noise in some given half hour as a crew of bogas, but these continue it, only with the intermission of eating and crossing the river, from daybreak till night.

They shout and jump on the toldo [roof] over your head till you might fancy them in battle and repelling boarders. It was the good bye of the bogas: the heavy champan began its route at the mercy of the current. The twelve rowing bogas, placed half and half to one and another side of the stern, would raise and let fall the paddles in time, stamping their callused feet, screaming in excess, imitating the sound of the tiger, the whistling of the serpent, the shout of the parrots and the voice of other animals.

The champan would rupture the murmuring water. Borda , Finally, Auguste Le Moyne, a French diplomat in Colombia between and , gives a particular twist to all of the testimonies cited above. During our navigation sometimes we would see on the surface of the water a distant point that we could hardly distinguish, when the bogas were already telling us it was a boat and they could appreciate its size and count the boatmen on it, calling them by their names and recognizing those who were their friends among them.

They would call them by their names and ask them about their health and about the incidents of the trip. Linguistically, such prayers defied any easy identification in the ears of travelers, since the presence of multiple languages was one of the characteristic traits of the polyglot Caribbean, where indigenous and African languages mixed with Spanish and the Latin of Catholic invocations.

Once on their way, the vocalization used to accompany the use of the poles for moving the boat was one that blurred the boundary between speech, melody, and shout. Such simultaneity defied a presence of either a clear tone or harmony since sounding like animals was the most common comparison. Bogas repeatedly made use of a syllable or vocable that all of the written testimonies describe in similar manner—huss, hum, halle. Functionally, these vocalizations were used to accompany labor yet all bogas are described as tremendously irreverent, unruly, and with exaggerated bodily contortions.

According to Le Moyne bogas were also sensorially acute, capable of clearly distinguishing words and identifying peoples across great distances. The vocalizations of the bogas and many others in the colonial archive seem to defy a description as either speech or song, and are thus likened to animal sounds.

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Le Moyne also suggests that the acute audiovisual sensibility of the bogas is a predatory one needed to identify animals. This acoustic sensibility has been a trait repeatedly explored in musical ethnographies of the rainforest that emphasize the sensorial tuning to species and spatial acoustics Samuels et al. Humboldt also ascribes to the bogas one of the theories of the origins of music prevalent in the period in Europe—that music originates in the rhythmic movements of labor. All of these are classical acoustic themes of the colonial archive. Let us use a classic trope of interpretation from what is, by now, a classical text on the topic by Michael Taussig as an entry point into the question of exploring the type of acoustic knowledge at work here: The wonder of mimesis lies in the copy drawing on the character and power of the original, to the point whereby the representation may even assume that character and that power.

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Champan en el Rio Magdalena, Colombia, Thus while the questions explored here involve addressing the form the answers took by virtue of a particular archive in a particular place, many of these issues were also being considered and explored in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. Into the Archive. This would supposedly yield crucial understandings of bygone eras, including a response to the questions of whether humans were derived from one single Adamic race and the location of paradise Olender ; Benes Such a polemic was also closely related to the question of musical origins.