Tag Archives: music

Week 10 – Power to the People

I thought that Dawson’s emphasis on the advent of radio being pivotal in Peronism to be on point. Without being able to broadcast her voice, Evita Peron would not have achieved the level of support she enjoyed. Interesting that she was so aware of this, and so comfortable with the new media, that she perfected a melodramatic tone to suit the form. This approach may have been over-the-top if broadcast today in HD, but in the early years of radio, this type of performance-style discourse was extremely well received. The qualities of a successful politician were forever changed. From radio to Twitter, a charismatic personality will always overshadow the quieter brand of political speaker.

Not only was Peron well suited for radio, but now her message, which was directed to the non-elite population, could reach its target audience without interference. Anyone could hear her speak, even from a great distance. Large crowds could gather and listen, together building a sense of community. No longer was political discussion reserved for the literate upper classes, everyone could participate. Those in charge could do nothing to contain this new power, and the face of politics was forever changed.

Another aspect of this week’s readings that I found fascinating is the emergence of different music styles as political rally flags. The popularity of Samba, and the fact that anyone could listen no matter where they found themselves on the economic totem pole, made Samba an effective tool for unifying the people. Dawson points out that it was the poor who shaped the sound of Samba, and it eventually became the defining sound of Brazil. Those in power made attempts to control it, but the people wouldn’t have it. The same happened with Tango in Argentina. Tango had its own language, often vulgar, and decidedly anti-state. The popularity of the music was a political act, the people versus the state. The community building power of radio is apparent in the popularity of Samba and Tango, just as in Peronism.

Maybe students of politics should have drama and music classes as part of their required credits.

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First Week and Student Videos


My name is Elan and I am coming back to university to finish my degree after several years off. I work in law, and I also write science fiction and play music. I took this course because Latin America is a fascinating place of which I know very little. I hope to change that over the next few months.

Here are my thoughts on some of the student videos from past classes.


I didn’t know what Caudillos were before watching this video. They are dictators that came into power in the 1800s in Latin America. But the term is more nuanced than that. Caudillos were also leaders who initially represented a change from the current government, but who eventually became corrupt with power. The people who had initially supported these leaders inevitably suffered under their command. I appreciated the comparison to Donald Trump at the end of the video. Trump certainly came to power because he represented change for the people who elected him, and perhaps we are now seeing the inevitable fall. But this isn’t political science, so I will leave it at that.

Casta Paintings: An Introduction

These paintings were created in the 1700s as a way of organizing and defining the boundaries between the different races in Latin America at the time. Casta is translated to Caste, and the artists of Casta Paintings, who were Spanish elites, were attempting to enforce a racial hierarchy within this diverse region. Represented at the top of the hierarchy were lighter-skinned Spanish peoples who were “pure of blood,” especially those born in Spain. Indigenous people were at the bottom, and women were always depicted as subservient to men. I appreciated the comparison to modern media, and the observation that perhaps very little has changed. There was a Filmora watermark on the video the whole time, which was pretty distracting.

The War on Drugs

The video begins in the 1980s when the movement of drugs from Latin America to the United States really takes off, and clearly illustrates those who gain (those in control of the flow of drugs) and those who lose (basically everyone else). There are several examples of cities and individuals directly affected by drugs, complete with compelling pictures and first-hand accounts. The video ends with an ominous question about whether drugs will continue to exert this tremendous power over Latin America, or whether the region will recover from the war on drugs. A clean and professional video.

Lastly, I LOVED the music in all the videos. I’m gonna go dance now.

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Filed under war on drugs, Week 1