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Circuits of Culture

Circuits of Culture: Media, Politics, and Indigenous Identity in the Andes

Jeff D. Himpele
Volume: 20
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    Circuits of Culture
    Book Description:

    Set against the background of Bolivia’s prominent urban festival parades and the country’s recent appearance on the front lines of antiglobalization movements, Circuits of Culture is the first social analysis of Bolivian film and television, their circulation through the social and national landscape, and the emergence of the country’s indigenous video movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5371-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
  5. Introduction: Arenas of Circulation and Ethnographic Circuits
    (pp. 1-38)

    With my 35mm camera in hand, I descended the steep city streets to the center of La Paz and positioned myself among the crowd lining both sides of the avenue across from the Cinema Monje Campero. On this last Saturday of July in 1994 , thousands of university students from all over Bolivia, organized in dance fraternities according to their academic majors, were parading through the city performing indigenous and mixed European-indigenous (mestizo) dances in the University Folklore Parade. In this annual event, the students seek to rescue and celebrate their own indigenous heritage by parading iconic dress and choreographed...


    • 1 Film Distribution as Media: Mapping the Urban Imaginary
      (pp. 41-64)

      On the eve of 1993, Dracula descended from the sky and arrived in Bolivia on board an American Airlines jet at the international airport in El Alto, the indigenous immigrant city sprawled on the dusty flatlands overlooking the wide and steep canyon bowl of La Paz. Securely bundled inside several metal canisters, he cleared customs and continued on his itinerary. In spite of the dense population of this city, and even with his own appetite for circulatory material, he decided that El Alto would have to wait and promptly swooped down along the curving expressway to the city center of...

    • 2 Assembling the Cinemascape: Tracking Circulation, Fixing Difference
      (pp. 65-90)

      Announcing one of the earliest public cinema exhibitions in the center of La Paz in 1904, the social column of the newspaperEl Comercioflaunted the “cinematograph” itself as the arrival of a new kind of machinery: “‘The apparatus . . . is ultra-modern, up-to-date, and it will be a spectacle worth seeing’” (in Dagron 1982, 32). Rather than by storytelling, and unlike photography, the attraction of early cinema featured its technological capacity to present brief scenes composed of images in continuous perceptual motion (Gunning 1986).¹ The technologies and experiences of perceptual movement became a defining feature of twentieth-century modernity...


    • 3 The Visible Nation: Excavating the Past, Projecting the Future
      (pp. 93-112)

      Historical narratives of national cinemas differently reveal and exclude the uneven political, global, and technological determinations of both the cinema and the nation -state. Consider the following accounts of Bolivian cinema:

      During the 1920s, films were being produced in every country of Latin America. However, only Mexico, Argentina, and Chile made some notable contributions to the art of silent film making. Most films were trials, experiments. Without a film tradition, without experienced direction, without technical facilities and financial support, Latin American film makers could not create excellent works. (Usabel 1982, 7)

      Bolivian cinema? It is behind. Everything here is behind,...

    • 4 Fantasies of Modernity: The Social Imaginaries of Revolutionary Films
      (pp. 113-134)

      This scene takes place in 1958 at the early evening exhibition at the Cinema Monje Campero, the large, magnificent new theater built just a few years earlier on the beautifully manicured Prado in the center of La Paz. Arriving at the theater, people from the city’s expanding mestizo middle classes enter the lobby. They approach the ticket windows with money drawn from the new tin-based economy that has been boosted by providing raw materials for the Allied arsenals of World War II. Outside on the sidewalk, Aymara residents of the city take advantage of their condoned access to the city...


    • 5 Reality Affects: Cultural Strategies and the Televisual Public Sphere
      (pp. 137-163)

      The revolutionary fantasies promised by the centralized Bolivian state quickly dissipated in the economic crises of the early 1980s, when the same, perhaps disillusioned, MNR party and the bourgeoisie that had carried out the revolution in 1952 abandoned their state-led models and populist ideologies of mestizo nationalism in 1985. Introducing drastic structural reforms, the MNR and subsequent governments sold shares in state enterprises to transnational corporations, praised free markets and consumerism, and reimagined the popular nation as fundamentally multicultural; all were transformations driven by their own neoliberal fantasies (Comaroff and Comaroff 2001). The state that had been conjured up in...

    • 6 Indexical Binds: The Televisual Production of Popular Publics
      (pp. 164-185)

      The traumatic texture and immediacy in many of the scenes onThe Open Tribunal of the Peoplemake demands in several directions. In the case recounted here, the urgency of a young woman makes demands not only on the host, Carlos Palenque, for the aid he offers to her but also upon viewers for sympathy. Although her narrative is incomplete and calls for more detail, it is because of Palenque’s haste to end the segment with her. In doing so, however, he opens an opportunity for himself to enter the story and to appear to respond immediately to her demands....

  9. Conclusion: Popularizing Indigenism, Indigenizing the Popular
    (pp. 186-212)

    For many of the immigrants from Bolivia who had settled in the environs of Arlington, Virginia, tonight would be the first time they would see either documentary or fictional works produced by trained indigenous video makers from their home country. Two of the immigrant organizations that had formed among the concentration of Bolivians living in the area, Comité Pro-Bolivia and Alma Boliviana, were collaborating to present video screenings occasioned by the visit of the video makers to the United States. Just days earlier in March 2002, a trio of Bolivian video makers had arrived to launch a month -long video...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 213-224)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-238)
  12. Index
    (pp. 239-247)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 248-249)