Can any of this be synthesized anyway?

Posted by: | February 23, 2009 | Comments Off on Can any of this be synthesized anyway?

I’m still reeling and really have no idea what exactly can be, should be, will be, was and is classified as Popular Culture, especially in an area so undefinable, diverse, broad, multicultural, and flexible as Latin America. But I suppose it is exactly these things that we are meant to understand better through this semester’s readings so far. The idea of popular culture as not being considered a coral reef, gradually changing over time as is suggested by Keesing. Perhaps the idea of culture as a journey comprised of the ordinary, everyday, educational, or working class is a more accurate representation. I identify more with the idea of cultural development as a journey, as opposed to the slow unnoticeable accumulation of things. There are likely examples of both types of culture, however it seems that both are forms of process.
I suppose there is some connection between the people and their culture, or the culture they consume, if culture is something to be consumed at all. Eva Peron, and her version of populism provide one example of the people as the descamisados, workers, women, exploited and suffering. She contrasts this idea with those in the oligarchy, or the military. Interestingly though, I find it hard to categorize her as a member of the group with whom she so enthusiastically tries to identify. Borges’ article sheds light on the idea of the people as well, but from a different perspective. From Rowe and Schelling the power of the media in all its forms seems the most relevant to me. Not only the power of the written word, but the way that music, dance, drama and oral stories come to be popular culture, or forms of it. The historical narrative they supply provides a good background to contemporary popular culture and what is loved and abhorred now. They seem to embrace the idea of culture as a process more than an explosion or apparition, as does Williams. Reading what I see as examples or representations of actual popular culture in the works of Arguedas and Asturias was interesting. Through the works, ideals, values and discourses are apparent. I’m interested to better understand the way certain discourses permeate their writing, even if they consciously felt they did not ascribe, construct or fit into them. Having discussed Vasconcelos in other Latin American related courses, I was glad to finally read a sample of his famous work. As problematic as it may have been, it provided an interesting example of thought and race from the 1920s. The racism he includes in his work seemed normalized and expected. His class, socio-economic position and gender are highly present in his work, and contribute to why we might find problems with what he wrote presently. Wade’s reaction or counter point that perhaps culture, race and mixture can be better understood as embodied experience was more in line with my personal opinion. I liked that he was able to acknowledge that people can find commonality in their differences within constructs of supposed homogeneity. The idea that a nation can be both homogenous and heterogeneous at once seems paradoxical, but was clarified when Wade wrote about the woman who was a mulatta. When asked whether she identified with black or white parent better, she answered that she was neither. This avoidance of classification alters conceptions of culture creation, nationality and identity.
No one perspective can come to represent such a diverse and changing area such as Latin America. The people can not be seen in one light, nor can popular culture be classified in only one manner. The process of creating and defining that culture is not unidirectional, nor is it always at one speed, or by one group. Identity, race, class, gender, education, sexuality and space interact altering what is considered culture and what is popular about it.


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