Popular Culture in Latin America

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

Reading Rowe & Schelling work was very interesting to me because I believe it not only touched on many aspects of popular culture in Latin America, but also they demonstrated the complexity of it. I could spend hours discussing about futbol, music and even black culture within the cultural sphere in Latin America, however there is one particular aspect in this paper that grabbed my attention, and that the aspect was resistance in Latin American culture.

This process of syncretism between colonial and pre-colonial culture is very characteristic of Latin American society, particularly that of the worldviews held in Latin America.

Christianity is probably the biggest “remain” left from the colonial period and many people in the region still practice it the same way it was practiced in the past (traditionally). However, as Rowe and Schelling point out, some elements of Christianity have been altered and previous indigenous worldviews have been incorporated. Sometimes these elements are incorporated in order to make better sense of the new worldviews that are being imposed to the indigenous by the missionaries (i.e. Corpus Christi). And in other cases, these elements are incorporated deliberately as a symbol of resistance (i.e. “El Baile de la Conquista” among the indigenous and “El Congo” among the blacks). The former, though maybe not on purpose, is still a form of resistance because it’s not fully accepting Christian worldviews without renouncing to their indigenous worldviews. I believe that it’s this “unconscious-form” of resistance that characterizes many aspects of the culture of Latin America. However, there are still many aspects of resistance within Latin American culture that are a bit more obvious.

In Latin American countries, independence and other national holidays are celebrated very differently from other parts of the world. In many countries of the region (after practicing for 6-8 months) both the students and military from all around the country march in remembrance of the struggles that lead to independence. One particular national holiday of some Latin American countries is the celebration of the so-called “gritos de independencia” (cries for independence). Cries for independence are sometimes considered the official starting points for independence; it is an act of resistance in which a person (or population) calls for independence. Now this is not as subtle as the “unconscious-form” of resistance I mentioned early, rather it is a more obvious form of resistance and many nations adopt this event and make it part of their national holiday. By doing so, this event is now part of the culture of that country because it commemorates that act of resistance. Additionally, this ties in with another of Rowe and Schelling argument which was that part of the culture in Latin America comes from the rural areas. The similarity that the Grito de Dolores in Mexico, Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos in Panama and el Grito de Lares in Puerto Rico have is that they all occurred in towns that are far away from the urban setting.


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