Hybrid Cultures

Posted by: | March 24, 2009 | Comments Off on Hybrid Cultures

In Nestor Garcia Canclini’s article, he explores the popularization of folk culture. It was thought that modernization would erase folklore, but instead it has transformed it. The “popular-traditional” has been adopted by the elite culture and the culture industry, in such a way that it is commodified and mass-produced. Facing unemployment, many people turn to making artisans to make a living, or as an way to make a little extra income. Artisans make up apparently “ 18 percent of the economically active population” of Latin America, a number that is surprising as many would think that culture was being eroded by the globalization of Western (mainly American) culture. Now, people whose communities never made handicrafts, or only did for their own personal use, are making them as part of the culture industry. Governments continue to promote the productions of such artisanal work despite the fact that it does not add to the GDP. In places like Mexico, stores dedicated solely to the sale of souvenirs are everywhere, heavily concentrated, obviously, in the tourist destinations that are frequented by Americans. Staying at a Club Med, people can own a little piece of “real”, “authentic” Latin America that they bought in the resort’s gift shop, without even having to venture out into the street.  Folklore is not only catered as a commodity for tourists, however, as states use traditional or popular symbols to reach the population. Nestor Garcia Canclini states that different sectors use folk culture “to affirm their identity, stress a national;-popular political definition or the distinction of a cultivated taste with traditional roots” (154). Through the modernization of communication networks, states can use traditional symbols, dances, festivals, etc to reach all levels of the population, regardless of geographical location or socioeconomic standing. Communities also use folk culture as a way to communicate with the people, to tell history and to teach morality. So, although traditional culture is often produced for the volumes of tourists wishing to take home a little piece of their trip, modernization has allowed traditions to keep being practiced by the population, even if they have been transformed.


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