Translation is not a neutral activity. What we choose to translate directly impacts the visibility, reach, and circulation of ideas. In this sense, translation is an extension of the choices of publishers and editors in the original language. By translating this collection of writings, I am participating in a project that seeks to render visible voices that have been absent far too long in mainstream Brazilian publications and in English translation. In this particular instance, critical takes on the heavily consecrated concept of Anthropophagy, especially from the perspective of Black and indigenous thinkers in Brazil, are much needed in the consideration of Brazilian art and literature. Questioning the precepts, the aesthetic and philosophical elements of Brazilian modernism, and situating them within an analysis of social hierarchies in the realm of the arts, is absolutely crucial.
Anthropophagy, for Brazil’s artistic elite, has been held up as a powerful post-colonial metaphor meant to unify. What the writers for this issue of the Brooklyn Rail demonstrate is that any idea of union in Brazilian modernism—or by extension, Brazilian national identity expressed in the arts—is questionable at best. Regardless of its substantive contributions to Brazilian art and literature, Anthropophagy has to be viewed from a variety of vantage points that account for the full range of its influence, limitations, and context. I hope that this collection of writings contributes to the unmasking of Anthropophagy’s social, aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, particularly in relationship to the economic peripheries of Brazilian society. Further, the intellectuals and artists represented here have unique perspectives and knowledge to share that I hope can breathe in both English and Portuguese.