The Faces of Popular Culture

Posted by: | January 26, 2009 | Comments Off on The Faces of Popular Culture

This reading was lengthy and detailed giving a good explanation of the variations in popular culture throughout Latin America. I personally have a limited pot of knowledge concerning Latin American history, and have found myself thus far trying to grasp the concept of ‘Latin American pop culture’ as a lump concept. Indeed there are many shared experiences throughout Latin American development which are dissimilar to the Canadian and American history that I am used to, however each country has a unique past that must be acknowledged. Therefore, I found this article to be an excellent overview of some of the characteristics of different areas that contributed to their specific artistic impressions.

I did enjoy the entire article, however, for the sake of the reader I will discuss only the points that really stood out me.

On page 65, speaking of Mexico in particular, “The promotion of handicraft production benefits both peasants and the state: the former are enabled to ‘feed and keep their family in the village they always felt part of’ and, for the state, ‘handicrafts are an economic and ideological resource for limiting peasant immigration, the constant invasi on of the cities by a labor force which industry cannot absorb and which aggravates already serious deficiencies in housing, health, and education’” I volunteered this year at the fair trade store Ten Thousand Villages, and I feel that handicrafts can be undermined in the field of development. Not only are they of cultural and economic significance, this article also brings up the excellent point that they also have the power to act as a buffer against urbanization while preserving tradition.

On Page 97, the author notes the melding or rural/urban culture infused with transnational culture which is a product of enhanced communications. Whereas the ‘rural areas’ are categorized as a place of ‘pure and authentic culture,’ the cities are considered to be ‘a corrupting and contaminating force.’ However, due to urbanization, the cities now are now injected with rural traditions and act as the hub of international capitalist ideals. Both of these mix together to form a new culture, that is the new emerging Latin American pop culture.

On a more general note, It was really eye opening to see how some of the minor elements in a performance or other art form can have such a profound meaning, that I would not have picked up on if I did not understand the cultural representation it held. For instance the role reversal of the natives versus the Spaniards (– a compensatory effect, Page 62), or the Spaniards festivals in Peru which end in a bullfight to affirm that the ‘fundamental culture is Spanish’ (Page 57). Another, not as subtle, interesting expression is the Brazilian ‘folhetos,’ which value stereotypical roles for women, display those women who defy traditional morality as ‘suffering at the hands of supernatural forces’ (Page 91).

The rest of the article provides great new perspectives and explanations. I am not going to discuss further, because due to my limited experience in this area I am in no place to critique, add, or subtract anything said in the paper. I just thought I would share some of what I took away.


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