What is popular culture in Latin America?

Posted by: | January 27, 2009 | Comments Off on What is popular culture in Latin America?

The text of Rowe William, who is a professor of religious philosophy, proposes to understand the concept of popular culture in Latin America. In class, we have already discussed about the concepts of culture and people. But, to what extent, popular culture in Latin America is unique?
First, popular culture in Latin America seems to be a mix of three cultures: pre-Columbian cultures, Spanish popular culture and modernism. I think that the plaza of the three cultures in Mexico illustrates well the construction of a popular culture around these three elements. As Rowe explains it, pre-Columbian cultures and their traditions were not totally swept out by Spaniards. In fact, Catholicism who developed in Latin America was influenced by Indian system of beliefs. Thus, popular culture in Latin America is related to religion. It is the result of a cultural syncretism. Thus, the Catholicism of Latin America seems to be unique because it mixes the Catholic official church, the Spanish popular idea of Catholicism and some Indian beliefs.
Moreover, popular culture is not a fixed concept. Indeed, the concept of popular culture evolved.  It was sometimes used as a counter culture against the dominance of the Spaniards or as an opposition to modernity. But in the same time, it results to be influenced by these new elements and incorporates them. Thus, popular culture proposes a continuous renewal.  Even if, many authors point out that mass production of culture reduce the role of popular culture as a ferment of collective memory, according to Rowe William, it goes on being a fundamental element of collective consciousness.
Rowe also explains that there is a continuation between the rural popular culture and the urban one in Latin America. Indeed, the wave of peasants, going to cities in order to work, brought popular culture from rural sites into cities. However, popular culture in city changed and adapted to new logics based on capitalist system. Nowadays, as three fourth of the Latin American people are urban, we could say that now, popular culture is merely urban. As popular rural culture infers with capitalist system, some changes occurs.  The capitalist logic influence popular culture in many fields. These changes have advantages and drawbacks. Generally thinking, popular culture is no longer used only as a vector of a collective consciousness, but also, as an economic product. Thus, the topical issue is:  do the changes of popular culture into an economic product reduce its importance as a factor of collective consciousness?


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