Week 7

I really enjoyed this weeks video. I thought it presented topics that I had not payed much mind to previously, and broke them down well. The concept of modernity was not something I had ever really tried to define myself, and I found it particularly interesting to consider the varying degrees of modernity a country can achieve- aesthetically but not politically, and so on. It makes me wonder to what degree the countries I do think of as modern these days are truly modern. Am I playing a fool to a countries elegant façade? Or is it justifiable to assume that if a country can present itself as modern it probably is? Probably the former. One thing this video made me think of, while unrelated in many ways to Latin America, was the “Democratic” peoples republic of North Korea, a country that so desperately wants to be perceived as affluent and developed that it is not above building so called “ghost buildings,” empty shells of buildings designed to trick observers into thinking that North Korean Citizens live in modern establishments. (They may also hide or disguise military activity- you can look into them further here if you are curious https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Village_(North_Korea) ). Another point that Prof. Dawson raises is that one of the main elements of modernity is the secularization of the state (or nation). This makes me wonder about countries like the US, where certain politicians have moved towards embracing religion as part of the governments guiding principals. Donald Trump’s speech three days ago (Oct. 13th) at a value voters convention included the line “In America we don’t worship government- we worship god.” And yet, adopted 226 years prior, the first Amendment to the United states constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” giving the founding base of antidisestablishmentarianism in the US. Are we watching the states slid backwards from being a modern country? Did they peak in the sixties? Probably, hopefully not, but it is disheartening to see an abandonment of such a core element of modernity by the President, no matter what his personal beliefs are. Still, I digress. In terms of Mexico under Diaz, I think it is important to draw the link back to our old friend Bolivar and his frustration at governing a unified Latin America. The appeal to force as rule, or power, seems to bridge time in Latin America, from the Caudillos to the “modern society” of Mexico. Maybe it’s easier that way.

Sorry for the eclectic post, thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Week 7

  1. Livia Oliveira

    I liked your point connecting the Caudillos and their forceful authority with Díaz’s governing – this paternalistic, violent way of ruling is definitely a historical trend all over Latin America, and I’d argue that it’s still present – if not in rulers like Chávez in Venezuela, for example, ingrained in institutions and their practices.

  2. Ronnie Daney

    Hi! I like that you use the word “façade” to talk about the aesthetic modernity of Latin America, as if it does not matter what the situation is like for the people, so long as the new amenities attract foreign investors.
    I also like that you mention the regression of the United States: this is a perfect example of Alec Dawson’s argument, according to which nobody can predict the future. This gives me hope that someday Latin America could outperform some of the most influential nations in the world and become one of the most powerful forces within the new global order.

  3. Craig

    I also thought of North Korea after reading this weeks passage of ¨Latin America Since Independence¨. There is a three-part series on youtube called Inside North Korea that just blows my mind. Everything this guy captures on video is staged. It begs the question who are they trying to impress?
    I have never understood the idea of secularization of society. Oh, I agree with secularization of society, but I rarely see evidence of it. If one is on trial in court, they have to swear an oath holding a bible. In Canada even though a bunch of religions are practiced, it all comes down to christianity in the eyes of the court and the government. Why? Are we not supposed to have a separation there?



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