Week Ten Readings

The readings for this week primarily discuss how power was given to the people of Latin America through artistic mediums. The radio was one of the principal forms of power. The radio was a form that allowed individuals to display different arts (music, soap operas, etc.), which enhanced a sense of virtual community within nations. For example, the text talks about how samba became a national identity for Brazil. As samba became more wellknwn throughout Brazil, individuals started identifying more with the music. Getulio Vargas, therefore, decided to use samba to connect the people to his ideologies of the Etado Novo. However, Alexander Dawson explains that, particularly, lower income samba artists rejected this official samba and sought different mediums to express their true samba. The contribution of so many artists overwhelmed the official samba, and eventually took over. Working from different levels of society and expressed through different mediums, samba became a national identity for Brazil. So much so, that in spite of the fact that it rose from lower class individuals, elite Brazilians had to embrace samba to be considered “true” Brazilians. The idea of using art as a source of power is very amusing to me. As the samba example shows, class and power differences are blurred or dismissed when dealing with art. It is more about the quality and quantity of the artwork, rather than the individual, that gives power.
Maria Eva Duarte de Peron also used the radio as a form of power and identity. Evita moved to Buenos Aires to pursue a career in the arts, and in a way, that is exactly what she did – powerful arts. As the wife of President Juan Peron, she was given a political power that she had not previously had. She came from a humble background, and rose to a position of power where she could address and be listened to by a wide community. Given this opportunity she pursued the arts though the radio, but used it to pursue issues of women’s rights, labor rights, and other social issues often dismissed in politics. As a once severely poor individual, Evita knew how and what social issues were important to address.
Both these examples of the arts used in Brazil and Argentina, show how much power common people can have if they are just given the form to do so. The radio is a powerful tool because any class, gender, and ethnicity can use it. One idea can be spread to the entire nation, and that individuals in the entire nation can choose to listen to it or not (as in Vargas’ official samba station). Thus, I see the radio (and other art and medium forms) as a source of great power – potentially even for war.

4 thoughts on “Week Ten Readings

  1. Nice comments about this weeks reading. I especially enjoy your comments on how in Argentina, the radio was used to broadcast political message in Evita’s speeches and like your comments on the samba in Brazil. However, I would like to have heard your comments radio had on the political scene in Brazil much more, particularly about the rise and fall of Vargas. Yet, overall this was a great posting and I enjoyed much of your analysis.

  2. I agree with your comment on how the radio is an extremely powerful tool for people. It definitely creates an open platform for any person to express their opinions.

  3. Hi there,
    I enjoyed reading your post on this week’s readings. I find very interesting your take on radio as an overreaching form of communication used in Brazil and Argentina during the 30’s. However, I would also add that, like any other communication medium, radio can also have political, economic, and racialized ways to present its content. What I also liked about your post was that people could do positive things for other people given the political and social opportunity to do so. Great job.

  4. I completely agree that the radio played a big role in 20th century politics and people’s life in general. Even though Vargas was not too successful in using radio, it was interesting to know that he was one of the earliest politicians in Brazil to discern its importance.

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