Week 7: The Export Boom as Modernity

Dawson discusses modernity and how it was an export driven process by which some of the population gained more than other sectors, further creating disparities among the population of Latin America.

An interesting comparison I drew from this week to a previous week was the introduction of photography in Latin America and how it was used as a way of ‘documenting the population’. This reminded me of the Casta paintings in a way. Especially because the photographs introduced the audiences to different sectors of the population. Dawson draws on Deborah Poole’s argument, the photos served to describe and inscribe racial identity to they subjects. This could be compared to the Casta Paintings in that they were also trying to frame a particular racial identity in relation to the different mixes of race that existed in Latin America. Both serve as a glimpse into the society they were trying to frame.

One thing I found interesting is this idea of one (or two) commodity economies. These structures have had their impacts well into the 21st Century as Latin American countries are still trying to expand their economies into other less agricultural sectors. The fact that the Latin American economies were one commodity economies is one of the main reasons as to why Latin America became highly dependent on the World Market, especially on the demand for their particular commodity. Also, these types of structured economies lead to many Latin American countries opting for import-substitution industrialization as a way of steering their economies away from this type of import dependency.

Question: To what extent could the modernity project be considered an authoritarian project to maintain people in power? To what extent could the modernization project be justified by the use of violence?

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