Against Abstraction: Notes from an Ex-Latin Americanist

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In 2015, members of the philosophy department at the University of Madrid conducted an interview with Alberto Moreiras for the university's digital archive. The resulting dialogues and the Spanish edition of this work, Marranismo e inscripcion, o el abandono de la conciencia desdichada, are the basis for Against Abstraction, supplemented with an interview conducted for the Chilean journal Papel maquina. In these landmark conversations, Moreiras describes how, though he was initially committed to Latin American literary studies, he eventually transitioned to become an eminent scholar of critical theory, existential philosophy, and ultimately infrapolitics and posthegemony. Blending intellectual autobiography with a survey of Hispanism as practiced in universities in the United States (including the schisms in Latin American subaltern studies that eventually led to Moreiras's departure from Duke University), these narratives read like a picaresque and a polemic on the symbolic power of scholars. Drawing on the concept of marranism (originally a term for Iberian Jews and Muslims forced to convert to Christianity during the Middle Ages) to consider the situations and allegiances he has navigated over the years, Moreiras has produced a multifaceted self-portrait that will surely spark further discourse.