Introduction: Doing and Undoing Comparisons in the Americas from the Colonial Times to the Present

Susana Rocha Teixeira, Bielefeld University:

Currently, comparisons seem to be ubiquitous. Anything and anyone – be it universities, sports teams, countries, restaurants, or physicians – can and seem to be compared in order to identify, for example, the ‘best,’ ‘performance’ or the most ‘diversity.’ Nevertheless, comparing is hardly a novel phenomenon. Critics maintain that ‘modernity’ (and in particular the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) gave rise to new ways of seeing, measuring and ordering the world as well as to new practices of comparing; and that during that same period, comparing was increasingly established as a seemingly objective and scientific method, a fact that led to the establishment of a number of academic areas and (sub-) disciplines such as comparative literature.

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