The ‘Catastrophic Consciousness of Backwardness’: Culture and Dependency Theory in Latin America and the Caribbean
New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2021 Number 103
The ‘Catastrophic Consciousness of
Backwardness’: Culture and Dependency
Theory in Latin America and the Caribbean
Michael Niblett pages 113-133
DOI: 10.3898/NEWF :103.07.2021
This article examines the relationship between economic and cultural dependency. Its analysis is framed by Enrique Dussel’s methodological insistence on the international transfer of surplus value as the essence of dependency. Beginning with an examination of the heyday of classical dependency theory in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1960s and 1970s, the article moves on to consider the increasing importance accorded culture as a site of power and struggle, focusing on the work of Sylvia Wynter. The second half of the article turns to the literary registration of dependency. Arguing that literary works can provide a barometric reading of the pressures of underdevelopment in advance of political-economic analyses, I consider Patrícia Galvão’s Parque Industrial (1933) and Olive Senior’s ‘Boxed-In’ (2015). Published, respectively, some forty years either side of the heyday of dependency theory, these paradigmatic fictions are examples of both the diagnostic and active role of literature in responding to the depredations of dependency.
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To cite this article
Michael Niblett (2021) The ‘Catastrophic Consciousness of Backwardness’: Culture and Dependency Theory in Latin America and the Caribbean, New Formations, 2021(103), 113-133. https://doi.org/10.3898/NEWF :103.07.2021