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"Our America" Presentation

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Ryan Campbell

on 5 September 2012

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Transcript of "Our America" Presentation

An Analysis of Jose Marti's "Our America" Cuba's Path to Independence Ryan Campbell and Han Wei Chew "Our America" Essay
Summary José Martí Leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party Who valued cultural independence and political freedom Rhetorically pushes for a second Cuban revolution As the title suggests, the essay pertains to nationalism in (Latin) America, but more specifically, Cuba Subsections: Flaws in Latin American society Characteristics of effective and ineffective government Lack of original ideas in Latin America After being banished from Cuba in 1879 for anti-Spanish sentiment, He moved to Paris, France, Venezuela, and New York City However he feared annexation by the US Rhetorical
Technique He never says "Cuba" Instead he uses generalities to refer to: Metaphor Metaphors justify the clash between predator and prey referring explicitly to Imperialists and their colonies CONTRASTING
stereotypes The natural man The frock-coated Parisian The Conceited Villager Marti condemns those who have abandoned Cuba's culture and independence Such as the youth, who are content and ignorant of outside affairs: "unaware of those giants with seven league boots" (84) The Europeans created a generation of youth in Cuba... ...that only cares about itself The Presumptuous Man Synecdoche for expatriates who abandon Cuba in search of wealth "...[the presumptuous man] accuses his native land of being worthless and beyond redemption because its virgin jungles fail to provide him with constant means of traveling all over the world" (86). Flaws of
Imperialism No foreign power can understand The culture and way of life of a remote land the esoteric elements of a native culture No law degree can teach As a result, "...the [educated] young go out into the world wearing Yankee or French spectacles" instead of those of the country they are attempting to govern(87) Countries ruled by Imperialist powers are therefore doomed to have an ineffective and disconnected government The only way to control is through force, so
"republics [pay] with oppression for their inability to recognize the true elements of their countries..." (87). Essential Components of an Effective Government The best ruler is a native of the country The "natural" man knows best how the government must operate to represent the interests of the people Nations consist of the cultured and the uncultured The uncultured simply want to be governed well, to be able to live their lives in peace The cultured cannot represent the majority Government must effectively represent the interests of the majority Cuba's Political Disarray In 1868-1878, Cuba battled Spain for independence in the Ten Year War Spain annihilated the Cuban revolutionaries, leaving thousands dead Most damaging was the lack of political unity in Cuba following the war. Without a widely-supported agenda, Cuba remained a colony of the Spanish Empire. Marti alludes to this political deconstruction: "it is easier to govern when feelings are exalted and united than after a battle, when divisive, arrogant, exotic, or ambitious thinking emerges” (89). Even though the revolution failed, Marti claims it was also a success for the Cuban people; they acted in unity to save their culture and political liberty. The Metaphors of the Tiger and the Octopus The tiger: a looming predator Symbolizes Imperialist Spain, whose prey is Cuba Indomitable enemy: "he will die with his claws unsheathed and his eyes shooting flames”(90). The octopus: a general metaphor for the grasp of Imperialism Lazy and tired Imperalists losing their grasp on their colonies
"America is escaping all its dangers. Some of the republics are still beneath the sleeping octopus" (92). The use of metaphor links Imperialism to predation and justifies the revolutionary cause Marti also hints at a Latin America's inevitable counter-strike to achieve freedom. "But these countries will be saved!" European culture has infiltrated American culture and upset the social structure Centuries of European influence have caused native peoples to lose their identities: the Negro, Native American and South Americans Tobacco plantations, cattle ranches and small farms were replaced in the 19th century... ...with vast sugar plantations that disrupted Cuba's social structure Mimicking European culture, the wealthy became wealthier and adopted a more affluent lifestyle Meanwhile, the poor became poorer: “the peasant, the creator, turned in blind indignation against the disdainful city.... The native, driven by instinct, swept away the golden staffs of office in blind triumph” (91) "What are we?" At the end of the 19th century, relations between Spain and Cuba became increasingly tense due to rising taxes and conflicting political interests Cubans started to reconsider their changing identity: “the frockcoats are still French, but thoughts begin to be American” (91). Marti describes that the youth want to finally create their own culture instead of imitate, even if it isn't as affluent “The wine is made from plantain, but even if it turns sour, it is our own wine!” (92) The Future The tiger will finally be defeated and Cuba will be independent A leader will emerge from the native people, and he will lead America out of oppression to just society “The natural statesman arises, schooled in the direct study of Nature” (92). José Martí Maximo Gomez Calixto Garcia Marti hypothesizes that the US will attempt to annex Cuba
Martí believed that Cuba was the gateway for the USA to the rest of Latin America However, he states that cultural understanding is key and the US has the ability to do the right thing. The world is race-less. Culture is what distinguishes groups of people, and mutual understanding will ensure peace for all Marti changes his tone in the last paragraph to make this utopian society seem attainable. Cuba After "Our America" Revolution broke out in 1895, but José Martí was killed at the beginning of the war The US helped Cuba to defeat Spain. American forces would only stay as long as Cuba needed. Marti’s concerns were accurate. The US took control of Cuba’s affairs through the 1901 Platt Amendment and planned to make it a naval base In summary, "Our America" is open to timeless interpretation, done as both a work of poetry and prose. With its preexisting historical context, we can conclude that Marti wrote the essay with Cuba as audience, he also spoke in general terms to appeal to other Latin American countries. Corresponding fear of the United States Calls for solidarity within Latin American peoples "Giants with seven league boots" (85) These expatriates... Forge a new identity in their new countries
However, they do not belong there
"A phrase by Sieyes does not does nothing to quicken the stagnant blood of the Indian race" (86)
Support foreign education that is widely adopted but irrelevant to governing Latin America While in New York City he authored "En Coney Island se vacía Nueva York" and "El Puente de Brooklyn," which praise the US for its solidarity and independence
He hopes for Cuba to develop the same cultural cohesion Bibliography

"History of Cuba." Nations Online. The Nations Online Project, n.d.
Web. 29 Aug. 2012.

Perez, Juan F. "Cuban History and Its Patriots." JuanPerez.com. N.p.,
06 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2012.

Sierra, J. A. "Jose Marti." History of Cuba. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012.

Sierra, J. A. "The Struggle for Cuban Independence and Identity."
History of Cuba. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012.

Volek, Emil. “Nuestra América/Our America at the Crossroads:
Splendors of Prophecy, Misery of History, and Other Mishaps of
the Patriotic Utopia (Notes on the Bicentennial Recourse of the
Method and on Martí’s Blueprint for Macondo).” Hispanic
Literatures and the Question of a Liberal Education. Ed. Luis
Martín-Estudillo and Nicholas Spadaccini. Hispanic Issues On Line
8 (Fall 2011): 127–151. Web.

Dalleo, Raphael, Another “Our America”: Rooting a Caribbean Aesthetic
in the Work of José Martí, Kamau Brathwaite and Édouard
Glissant in Anthurium, a Caribbean Studies Journal(Fall 2004):
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