Latin American Popular Culture

Posted by: | January 27, 2009 | Comments Off on Latin American Popular Culture

After doing the readings for this week, I was still not convinced that one could explain Latin American culture in a few months. For crying out loud, it would take an entire course to truly understand the popular country of a single Latin American country. HOWEVER, I think I found one factor that identifies popular culture in most -if not all- of Latin America: the mix of pre-Hispanic believes/practices with colonial European traditions/ways of life.

In terms of Religion, let’s take the example of Mexico. Why is La Virgen Maria, so famous? The fact that she made herself visible to the “Indio Juan Diego”, makes all the difference in the world. In short, one of the many reasons why the Virgin is so widely worshiped around Mexico is simply because she was the heavenly character that reached out to the ‘native’ population. Taking this into account, we can say that one of the major displays of faith in Mexico – “El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe” – is the result of combining two factors, that of European Catholicism and an indigenous factor. For the most part, I think that the most powerful/popular traditions in Latin America are a combination of both European and indigenous practices. Thus, Popular Culture in Latin America must be the compromise between European and indigenous believes, practices, and traditions.

After a 100 pages read, and three weeks in class (and having spent half of my life in Latin America) I feel that I have got it right. Not convinced yet?

The reading also talks about the celebrations of the “Day of the Death”. One of  my personal favorites, and also one of the best displays of a compromise between pre-Hispanic believes/traditions and Spanish Catholisims. I mean, crosses made out of  cempasúchitl (orange flowers used commonly in altars in Mexico), these flowers were used by indigenous people in Mexico with the believe that they attract souls!!! and yet, it is completely accepted both socially and within the clergy.

YET, having taken class with John before, I am certain it is not as simple as that. But, I think it may be a good start.

I’m out.


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