BookReviews Afro-Cuban ethnography. Ortiz had more than a slight degree of racism lacing his early writings about Afro-Cuban folklore, even linking those engaged in Afro-Cuban music and dance to the worst criminal elements in Cuban society, a position he would somewhat revise in his later years. Cabrera, an upper-class white Cuban woman, was a counterpoint to Ortiz, and from 1936 to the year of her death in 1991, she wrote with fascination and affection about Afro-Cuban folklore. Unlike Ortiz, whose writings superficially matched the conventional definition of ethnographic literature during the first half of the twentieth century, Cabrera created books that obviously assumed unconventional forms. Rodriguez-Mangual credits Cabrera with having invented a postmodern ethnography, marked by "ambiguity, subjectivity, speculation, and vocal polyphony" (p. 97). This last term will be familiar to readers of literary criticism as belonging to Mikhail Bakhtin, the Russian critic who applied it to modern fiction. But the author's use of Bakhtin, whose writings on the aesthetics of carnival are surprisingly ignored, points precisely to the problem of this book. The theorists cited by RodriguezMangual--a roll call of the "stars" of postmodern and postcolonial theory that includes Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, and Homi K. Bhabha--are
Journal of American Folklore – American Folklore Society
Published: Apr 11, 2010
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