Fernando Coronil - The Magical State

Fernando Coronil: “Where people can dream their futures without fear”

by Jason Antrosio

Anthropologist Fernando Coronil passed away in August 2011 after battling cancer. For a moving and personal account, see A Tribute to Fernando Coronil by Genese Sodikoff.

I had recently discussed Coronil’s critique of Scott in the Anthropology and government planning blog-post. An original thinker for Latin Americanists and many others.

Also out from Laurent Dubois, posting at Duke University Press, A Tribute to Fernando Coronil. Dubois has a great discussion of Coronil’s introductory essay for Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar by Fernando Ortiz, which was also the first essay I read by Coronil. From Gary Wilder at the CUNY Graduate Center, In Memoriam: Fernando Coronil.

Para hispanohablantes, ver Fernando Coronil: distinguido intelectual venezolano falleció en Nueva York y Aporrea: Muere en Nueva York Fernando Coronil.

Fernando Coronil will be missed–he worked toward the moral optimism of anthropology promoted by this blog. From the final paragraph of The Future in Question: History and Utopia in Latin America (1989-2010):

Of course, given the unequal structures of power within which this leftward turn has taken place, it is possible that its new imaginings may be co-opted or crushed. But given that these imaginaries now unite South and North in a politics that fuses the pursuit of well-being and sheer global survival, it is likely that a counterpoint between the embers of the past and the poetry of the future will continue to conjure up images of worlds free from the horrors of history. Politics will remain a battle of desires waged on an uneven terrain. But as long as people find themselves without a safe and dignified home in the world, utopian dreams will continue to proliferate, energizing struggles to build a world made of many worlds, where people can dream their futures without fear of waking up. (2011:264)

Update 2013 on Fernando Coronil’s work

I reviewed the links and tributes in response to a comment from Tilman on Transcultural Studies and the possible critiques and positions of Coronil, Trouillot, and Eric Wolf. Julie Skursi provided a great follow-up comment recommending Coronil’s article Towards a Critique of Globalcentrism: Speculations on Capitalism’s Nature (2000) and his essay “After Empire: Reflections on Imperialism from the Américas” (2007) in the edited volume Imperial Formations.

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  • Genese

    Thank you so much, Jason, for the mention. So nice of you too to honor Fernando on your website. I was happy to see the NorLAR tribute as well.

  • Jason Antrosio

    Hi Genese,
    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been trying to keep the page updated as the tributes come in. I did not really know Fernando, but his work has been so important, a big loss for an anthropology of human possibility.

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  • Dwight E Howell

    Yah know both Linen and Mao used to talk like that. Maybe in there own eyes they even achieved it.

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