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Against Abstraction

Against Abstraction
Notes from an Ex-Latin Americanist

In a deeply personal, genre-bending work, the critical theorist reflects on his career, from his emigration from Spain to pursue doctoral studies to his thirty years of immersion in the capricious tides of academia.

Series: Border Hispanisms

January 2020
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248 pages | 6 x 9 |

In 2015, members of the philosophy department at the University of Madrid conducted an interview with Alberto Moreiras for the university’s digital archive. The resulting dialogues and the Spanish edition of this work, Marranismo e inscripción, o el abandono de la conciencia desdichada, are the basis for Against Abstraction, supplemented with an interview conducted for the Chilean journal Papel máquina. In these landmark conversations, Moreiras describes how, though he was initially committed to Latin American literary studies, he eventually transitioned to become an eminent scholar of critical theory, existential philosophy, and ultimately infrapolitics and posthegemony.

Blending intellectual autobiography with a survey of Hispanism as practiced in universities in the United States (including the schisms in Latin American subaltern studies that eventually led to Moreiras’s departure from Duke University), these narratives read like a picaresque and a polemic on the symbolic power of scholars. Drawing on the concept of marranism (originally a term for Iberian Jews and Muslims forced to convert to Christianity during the Middle Ages) to consider the situations and allegiances he has navigated over the years, Moreiras has produced a multifaceted self-portrait that will surely spark further discourse.

  • A Preliminary Note
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Marranism and Inscription
  • Chapter 2. My Life at Z: A Theoretical Fiction
  • Chapter 3. The Fatality of (My) Subalternism
  • Chapter 4. May I Kill a Narco?
  • Chapter 5. The Turn of Deconstruction
  • Chapter 6. We Have Good Reasons for This (and They Keep Coming): Revolutionary Drive and Democratic Desire
  • Chapter 7. Time Out of Joint in Antonio Muñoz Molina’s La noche de los tiempos and Todo lo que era sólido
  • Chapter 8. Ethos Daimon: The Improbable Imposture
  • Chapter 9. A Conversation Regarding the Notion of Infrapolitics, and a Few Other Things
  • Appendix. Marrano Religion: Javier Marías’s Los enamoramientos, and the Literary Secret
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

Alberto Moreiras
College Station, Texas

Moreiras is a professor of Hispanic studies at Texas A&M University and the author of numerous essays and books on intellectual history, critical theory, and political thought, including Tercer espacio: Literatura y duelo en América Latina, and Línea de sombra: El no sujeto de lo político. He is the coeditor, with Nelly Richard, of Pensar en/la postdictadura; the coeditor of several journals; and an editor of the University of Texas Press Border Hispanisms series.


Against Abstraction is extraordinary in both senses of the word: it is both out of the ordinary and exceptional. It maps and historicizes the theoretical state of Latin American studies over the last two decades, analyzing the ideological, institutional-political, and personal disagreements that reconfigured and reoriented the discipline and its research agendas since the 1990s.”
Mariano Siskind, Harvard University

“This is a brilliantly argued and highly engaging presentation of recent research initiatives by Alberto Moreiras, a preeminent critical voice in the field of Hispanic studies and in the theoretical humanities writ large.”
Patrick Dove, Indiana University


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