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    Latin American Popular Culture

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    After doing the readings for this week, I was still not convinced that one could explain Latin American culture in a few months. For crying out loud, it would take an entire course to truly understand the popular country of a single Latin American country. HOWEVER, I think I found one factor that identifies popular culture in most -if not all- of Latin America: the mix of pre-Hispanic believes/practices with colonial European traditions/ways of life.

    In terms of Religion, let’s take the example of Mexico. Why is La Virgen Maria, so famous? The fact that she made herself visible to the “Indio Juan Diego”, makes all the difference in the world. In short, one of the many reasons why the Virgin is so widely worshiped around Mexico is simply because she was the heavenly character that reached out to the ‘native’ population. Taking this into account, we can say that one of the major displays of faith in Mexico – “El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe” – is the result of combining two factors, that of European Catholicism and an indigenous factor. For the most part, I think that the most powerful/popular traditions in Latin America are a combination of both European and indigenous practices. Thus, Popular Culture in Latin America must be the compromise between European and indigenous believes, practices, and traditions.

    After a 100 pages read, and three weeks in class (and having spent half of my life in Latin America) I feel that I have got it right. Not convinced yet?

    The reading also talks about the celebrations of the “Day of the Death”. One of  my personal favorites, and also one of the best displays of a compromise between pre-Hispanic believes/traditions and Spanish Catholisims. I mean, crosses made out of  cempasúchitl (orange flowers used commonly in altars in Mexico), these flowers were used by indigenous people in Mexico with the believe that they attract souls!!! and yet, it is completely accepted both socially and within the clergy.

    YET, having taken class with John before, I am certain it is not as simple as that. But, I think it may be a good start.

    I’m out.

    The People, the image of the people, and a monster…

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    I don’t know about the rest of the class, but I certainly had a hard time rounding my head around the excerpt from Peron. It just seems to me that Peron as a person, and Peronism as an ideology just seem to be full of contradictions. To be honest, more than contradiction between ideology and actions, it seems to me that Eva Peron is to a point cynical. Through out the rule of Peron, the words/promises of the Argentinean government did not translate into action. In fact, in many cases the actions of “the Peron” went against what they preached.

    Nevertheless, in terms of “In My Own Words” it almost seems apologetic. Without going into a complicated analysis that would ultimately confuse me even more about the text, I came to the following conclusion: Eva Peron is glorifying the people in order to ‘excuse’ her actions (or in certain cases lack thereof). Through out the excerpt that we were assigned to read, there are two consistent factors: 1) she identifies herself as part of a group, she no longer belongs to –the masses – ; 2) she also constantly attempts to justify her engagement in the politics of Argentina. Now, in my opinion, people that do good, and act on what they preach DO NOT write books explaining themselves, because their actions speak louder than their words.

    So yeah, let’s leave Peron at that since it is obvious I am rather biased against her work.

    On the other hand, I also do not agree completely with Borges, I don’t think “the people” are a “monster”. I think the reality of the people lies in between the two works, they are not perfect (or should I say we are not perfect), but we/they are not entirely bad.  Anyways, I really liked the description of Mr. Marforio in pg. 203 because it showed how the most insignificant character in society may be the one who can give you the best insight into what the masses feel for.  Another aspect that caught my attention was the description of people as “ants” in pg. 208, because I think it is true that most people in society at some point in their life get stuck in a monotonous routine. Lastly, the fact that the narrator acknowledges the fact that the murder of the Jew is something that “was relegated to oblivion” is very significant to the history of Latin America. How many people have died and gone to the oblivion in Latin America for thinking differently.

    I’m out

    Reply to Andrea Azcona’s entry on Culture

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    Hey there, I could not agree with you more with regards to the branding of culture as either good or bad. I think that if we assume that scholars or elites to decide what culture is. I mean, when the European colonial powers went into the Americas (specially the Spaniards) they decided that much/must of the local culture was barbaric and proceeded to erase it. Furthermore, to a certain extent I got the feeling that Williams would say that popular culture is bad culture, which i am not entirely sure would be true.


    I could not post on your blog because I don’t have a live journal account, but I thought you had a great point on the issue.

    And I thought I knew culture…

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    And I thought I knew culture…

    After the first reading of the term, I find myself more confused than before. When reading “Culture is Ordinary” I realized that there are a whole bunch of implications when one refers to culture that I had never taken into consideration. I like that he starts by arguing that a culture is what is used to describe a “whole way of life” (pg. 11). I think for the most part this is true, when we were talking about Canadian popular/high culture last week; it was obvious that some of our Canadian students were quick to grab ‘ordinary’ things and identify them as part of their culture.

    I would like to stay on this thought and expand of it. When we think of popular culture, we inevitably see that some things in popular culture that come from high culture, and vice versa. This makes a very blurry line between popular and high culture, which allows for many ordinary things to become part of our culture, and maybe one day even become “high” culture. I believe that this is where Williams is going by saying that culture is used to describe a “whole way of life”. Because culture is dynamic, all the things that to a certain generation may seem ‘cool’ and worth of appreciation, to another generation within the same borders and social context, the same things will seem mundane. However, just because one generation dislikes a way of dressing, a form of speech, etc. it does not mean that those elements will not inevitably become part of the culture of the younger/future generation.

    Williams goes further and argues that “bad” culture will inevitably be driven away by good culture. However, here you find some weaknesses in his article, for example: he says that the number of people who listens to good music is higher, and that more “good” literature was printed than ever before, etc. Today we can see that perhaps the number of people who reads a good newspaper has increased, and that there are more people who go to a museum to appreciate some sort of fine art, yes that is undisputable. However the rate at which these numbers have increased, in comparison with other forms of “bad” culture is not taken into account.

    Food for thought: The number of readers of ‘good’ newspapers says Williams has increased, but what about the percentage? Furthermore, how much have industries such as the Hollywood gossip magazines have expanded, in comparison with major newspapers?

    Because of the current addiction people have developed towards celebrities, new multimillion industries have been created and maintained alive by the ever increasing number of readers. Thus it is not so easy to accept Williams’s argument regarding “good” culture, pushing “bad” culture out. At least not in terms of literature… not many people in Latin American have read the classics of English literature, but many know about Angelina Jolie’s new adopted baby. Besides, who decides what is “good” and what is “bad”? Especially when we are talking about popular culture.

    I’m out.

    Salvador’s Spanish Class Blog 2009-01-09 20:35:43

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    Hello Class:

    My name is Salvador Madrid. I am from Mexico. I am an International Relations major, and I am looking forward graduating this upcoming May. I hope this blog goes well. Looking forward getting to know all of you a little bit better.



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