Latin America has never been an isolated geographical and cultural region. This global interaction has only manifested itself more poignantly since the 1960s, since in the last half of the 20th century, Latin American communities have developed and experienced a series of political (e.g., civil strife, return to democratic rule), socioeconomic (e.g., IMF structural adjustment policies, oil exports), and cultural (e.g., mass media production, migration) processes. The recent selection of Brazil as the site for both the World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016 reemphasizes these global relationships. Latin Americans continue to be global players who produce distinct cultural lifeways within wider worldwide concerns and exchanges. Latin American popular cultural elements in particular are impacted by global flows that rearticulate the modes by which this cultural production is created, reproduced, negotiated, and consumed. To this degree, Latin American popular culture makes significant contribution in a myriad of manner and areas. In this article, the areas of popular cultural influence are divided into topics (i.e., music, theater, and performance, literature and telenovelas) and cultural products/encounters (i.e., narco culture, migration, Latino identity, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered/queer struggles). These two different types of categorization are metonymic devices that serve to highlight, not exhaust, the popular cultural expressions within the greater local-global structure that orders the reproduction and representation of culture in our contemporary world, a cultural representation significantly highlighted in this contribution. Latin Americans, as a result of transnational processes, continue to be important players in these larger regional landscapes but also contribute greater forms of cultural products and encounters that provide continuous spaces of agency, social transformation, and hope.
Long before globalization became a buzzword, Latin American writers and scholars had already attempted to outline the complex manner in which local popular cultural production was intimately tied to greater forms of global exchange, as is expressed in Guamán Poma de Ayala 2009, a colonial letter to the Spanish king, highlighting the singularity of American experience and its incongruence with European domination. Also in this sense the analysis in Dorfman 1984 outlines how cartoons and Disney World figures go beyond the obvious and explicit desire to entertain but rather contain larger political agendas inherently engrained in their cultural milieu. These same concerns have been consistently highlighted in a couple of larger gatherings and collections, such as the Colloquiuma on Democracy, Identity and Memory (Franco, et al. 2002, cited under Literature). General meetings build upon decades of intellectual and scholarly inquiry of how a vibrant Latin American culture is continuously reproduced in highly uneven and hierarchical spaces yet manages to provide attractive options for social transformations that are full of historical agency. Many of these similar concerns are expressed in the work by Martín Barbero 1993, García Canclini 2005, Ortiz 1988, and Monsiváis 2000 that further expound on the complex yet rich manner in which cultural representation, different types of media, and identity are intimately related in their different forms of social and political articulation. Finally, Bolaños 1972–1980 provides a tangible example of a popular television program that expressed many of the issues at play in the scholarly debates on popular culture and media.
Bolaños, Roberto Gómez. El Chavo del Ocho. Mexico: Televisa, 1972–1980.
Bolaños is the creator of this Mexican television sitcom, which gained enormous popularity throughout the Americas and Spain. It centers around the adventures and tribulations of the title character, El Chavo—a poor orphan played by the show’s creator—and other inhabitants of a fictional housing complex in a neighborhood, or la vecindad.
Dorfman, Ariel. How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic. New York: International General, 1984.
English translation of Para leer el Pato Donald, originally published in 1972. Insightful text that marked a whole generation of Latin American scholars. It is one of the earliest studies to point out the rich implications of popular culture, particularly in terms of the greater global political effects.
Achugar, Hugo, and Sonia C’Alessandro, eds. Global-local: Democracia, memoria, identidades. Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones Trilce, 2002.
A collection of texts from a conference that directly deal with the three richer implications of popular culture: democracy, memory, and identity. The collection highlights many of the contemporary key figures in the realms of popular culture scholarship and theoretical insights that result from it.
García Canclini, Néstor. Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005.
The text, originally published in Spanish in 1989, is foundational to Latin American cultural studies. The author moves with ease from the ideas of Gramsci and Foucault to economic analysis, of appraisals of the exchanges between Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges, clarifying the development of democratic institutions in Latin America and revealing that destructive ideological trends still exist.
Guamán Poma de Ayala, Felipe. The First New Chronicle and Good Government on the History of the World and the Incas up to 1615. Translated by Roland Hamilton. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009.
English translation of original text written in Spanish as El primer nueva crónica y buen gobierno in 1615. This open letter written by an Andean subject to the then King of Spain continues to provide insightful basis for understanding the elements articulated in the original historical conflicts between Indigenous and European interests.
Martin Barbero, Jesús. Communication, Culture and Hegemony: From the Media to Mediations. Translated by Elizabeth Fox and Robert White. London: SAGE, 1993.
English translation of De los medios a las mediaciones: Comunicación, cultura y hegemonía. Originally published in 1987. One of the fundamental texts in terms of assessing the manner in which media, politics, and hegemony are intimately related in the contemporary context of cultural production.
Monsiváis, Carlos. Aires de familia: Cultura y sociedad en América Latina. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 2000.
In this award-winning book, the author discusses the different elements that make a unified Latin American identity a viable political and social reality. Divided into seven essays, the book discusses different cultural products like literature, film, and history to get to the social mores that make up what we believe Latin America to be.
Ortiz, Renato. A moderna tradição brasileira. São Paulo, Brazil: Ed. Brasiliense, 1988.
How has Brazil shifted in the last decades? Using this central question, the author focuses on the Brazilian cultural problematic to understand notions of national identity, popular culture, modernization, and modernity that have imposed themselves first as cultural projects, and then reflected as traditions.
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- Agricultural Technologies
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500-1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521-1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in Nineteenth-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas