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    The Faces of Popular Culture

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    This reading was lengthy and detailed giving a good explanation of the variations in popular culture throughout Latin America. I personally have a limited pot of knowledge concerning Latin American history, and have found myself thus far trying to grasp the concept of ‘Latin American pop culture’ as a lump concept. Indeed there are many shared experiences throughout Latin American development which are dissimilar to the Canadian and American history that I am used to, however each country has a unique past that must be acknowledged. Therefore, I found this article to be an excellent overview of some of the characteristics of different areas that contributed to their specific artistic impressions.

    I did enjoy the entire article, however, for the sake of the reader I will discuss only the points that really stood out me.

    On page 65, speaking of Mexico in particular, “The promotion of handicraft production benefits both peasants and the state: the former are enabled to ‘feed and keep their family in the village they always felt part of’ and, for the state, ‘handicrafts are an economic and ideological resource for limiting peasant immigration, the constant invasi on of the cities by a labor force which industry cannot absorb and which aggravates already serious deficiencies in housing, health, and education’” I volunteered this year at the fair trade store Ten Thousand Villages, and I feel that handicrafts can be undermined in the field of development. Not only are they of cultural and economic significance, this article also brings up the excellent point that they also have the power to act as a buffer against urbanization while preserving tradition.

    On Page 97, the author notes the melding or rural/urban culture infused with transnational culture which is a product of enhanced communications. Whereas the ‘rural areas’ are categorized as a place of ‘pure and authentic culture,’ the cities are considered to be ‘a corrupting and contaminating force.’ However, due to urbanization, the cities now are now injected with rural traditions and act as the hub of international capitalist ideals. Both of these mix together to form a new culture, that is the new emerging Latin American pop culture.

    On a more general note, It was really eye opening to see how some of the minor elements in a performance or other art form can have such a profound meaning, that I would not have picked up on if I did not understand the cultural representation it held. For instance the role reversal of the natives versus the Spaniards (– a compensatory effect, Page 62), or the Spaniards festivals in Peru which end in a bullfight to affirm that the ‘fundamental culture is Spanish’ (Page 57). Another, not as subtle, interesting expression is the Brazilian ‘folhetos,’ which value stereotypical roles for women, display those women who defy traditional morality as ‘suffering at the hands of supernatural forces’ (Page 91).

    The rest of the article provides great new perspectives and explanations. I am not going to discuss further, because due to my limited experience in this area I am in no place to critique, add, or subtract anything said in the paper. I just thought I would share some of what I took away.

    The message and the monster

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    I actually quite enjoyed both of these pieces assigned for this week. Evitas message, I found, was inspiring and poetic.. however not quite realistic. She lumps together the people of an entire nation making emphasis on ‘women.’ She makes bold points about escaping imperialism and exploitation, but she does so by saying that everyone wants the same thing. Of course  the ‘people’ want to be treated fairly and gain dignity, however people are diverse. With class stratification, and hierarchies of power, it would be quite difficult to unite the masses to achieve the same goal.

    Most importantly though, I believe the ‘message’ is an important piece for the empowerment of women. She strongly acknowledges the strengths of her husband and the good he has achieved while outlining her parallel abilities. She finds a good balance of showing what women can believe and achieve apart from men while not undermining the power of her husband. Her political ideologies and passion for the people is quite incredible.

    ‘A Celebration of the Monster’ contributed another interesting perspective of who ‘the people’ are and what they are capable of. Unlike Evitas message, the people are not always the victim downtrodden on by a corrupt power structure. Instead, they are capable of their own evils and selfishness. The writing format was also quite distinct  from Evita’s. Rather than being formal and idealistic, it is written in a way that you feel like you are being told a story and can almost hear the voice of the author.


    Comments Off on Culture

    These readings offered a unique perspective on what “culture” truly is. It is a difficult concept to grasp, especially as a Canadian living in a multi-”cultural” society. With such a vast mix of characteristics in all Canadians, how can we pick out certain elements to classify our culture with? Especially with the wealth of North America, and all the examples of “high” (unreachable for many) culture, what can we claim to be truly everyones? One perspective, is that through mixing and matching all these social stratums and cultures, we have lost our definition and thus lost our culture. However, in the first reading, by Williams, it shows that this is not the case in the slightest. Instead, modernization has expanded and enhanced our culture. The increased global mobility of persons, in terms of migration patterns, has diffused traditions and self expressions throughout the world. Furthermore, our advancements in the media and communications have allowed us to experience cultural practices that we may never otherwise have observed. For instance, in our class we have a specific demographic of those in a circumstance to choose to go to university. It is acceptable to say, none of us will carry out a portion of our lives in the ”slums,” yet in our first lecture, we were able to see two video examples of life and arts in these communities. This helps us gain perspective on how our own culture is displayed while appreciating those in other classes and societies. Therefore, we are at no loss in our own culture at all, rather we are no longer restricted to the terms of our immediate surroundings. It may be more difficult to define, but that is representative of our cultural breadth.

    Culture is the essense of a society. We may be in different social classes, come from various ethnic backgrounds, hold seperate political positions, however, we can all come together for a mutual appreciation of the arts and expressions that we value. In the places that I have lived in I daily witnessed seperation of lifestyle and values, but when a Canucks game came on, or it was time for the Calgary Stampede, or even the Houston Rodeo, everyone could come together and take pride in the place that they live. Therefore, spending in the arts, or whatever it may be that unites the people is a justified request. We all know that governments and religion have faltered in uniting the masses time and time again. However, the cultural elements have the capability to be that glue.

    Jessica’s Bio

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    Hello all!

    My name is Jessica Traynor, a fourth year undergraduate in my first year of GRS (going for a couple victory laps..). My region of study is Latin America and my interest is in nutrition and food politics.

    It was a long journey for me to end up where I am today. I first was interested solely in nutrition as a result of attending high school in Houston Texas, a frequent filler of the number one spot for the fattest city in America. I continuously saw people obsessing over the latest fad-diets and I simply wanted to know what the human body required to function its best.

    Upon my return to Canada, I was enrolled in the dietetics program at the University of Guelph in Ontario. However, as interested as I was in my studies, I felt that I was involved in a narrow scientific approach of nutrition while there were so many related topics that were being left undiscovered.

    A year later, I transferred to UBC and enrolled in the FNH program, doubting my commitment to becoming a dietition while there were so many other subjects I was becoming interested in. By the time I reached AgSc 250, my beliefs were reinforced that nutrition is not a subject that could be studied alone. Furthermore, my former interests in issues such as childhood obesity were toned down by the sad truth that while our society suffers from over-indulgence, a large percentage of the rest of the world is starving to death largely due to faults of the first world.

    The more I studied, the more I wanted to commit my life to work in the third world. I have had opportunities to study, travel and work abroad and thoroughly enjoyed learning about new cultures. So, naturally, GRS was able to provide an outlet for me to study what and how I want.

    I am excited for this year, and look forward to meeting everyone!


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