So far…

Posted by: | February 23, 2009 | Comments Off on So far…

So far our readings have been very diverse, and they have explored different aspects of Latin American culture in depth. We started off with the Williams and Keesing readings, which talked about how to interpret culture and how to define it. Culture is not solidly set in stone, unchanged by time. It is not only appropriated to a certain environment and group of people (for example, culture in the form of a museum or “high” culture as the product of the elite). Culture is present everywhere, even in the most mundane scenarios and it is produced even by the most ordinary people.

We also read about Peronism, by Borges, who was against Peron, and by Evita Peron, who obviously supported her husband, the president of Argentina. Evita believed she was one with the people, and that she could relate to the descamisados of Argentina. Borges, on the other hand, revealed Peronists as ruthless people who acted out violently without reason. We saw the contradictory interpretations of the people in Peronist Argentina through these readings.  Then, William and Schelling discuss various aspects of Latin American culture itself, like samba, Mexican artefacts and telenovelas. Here we saw the way traditional facets of Latin culture have evolved into their modern forms.

We then got into folk culture, as presented in the reading by Asturias, which was a collection of indigenous stories. Asturias interweaves reality with fantasy, and I this is what made these stories a little hard to read for me, although they were interesting. Our next reading by Arguedas depicted the abuse of the Indigenous people by the Spanish, and the Indigenous people’s rebellion.

Then we had Vasconcelos, who argued that a new race should emerge from the mixing of Spanish and Latin American races. This reading was a little creepy, because it seemed like Vasconcelos was predicting and encouraging the creation of a superior race. This race would be calculated, and this superior race would possess the Amazon. Wade’s article discussed mestizaje and its implications on the personal and public levels, and reveals the complexities of being mestizo.

I am hoping the readings for the rest of the term will focus on more modern topics, and that we will discuss current Latin American cultural issues. The readings are interesting, but so far, they have not fully explained today’s Latin culture.


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