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Nation, Culture and Class in Argentine Cinema

Nation, Culture and Class in Argentine Cinema: Crisis and Representation (1998–2005)

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell & Brewer,
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Nation, Culture and Class in Argentine Cinema
    Book Description:

    This book engages with representations of social crisis in Argentine fictional cinema between 1998 and 2005, a period when Argentina experienced a deep economic crisis that brought about significant changes in politics, culture, society and the arts. It focuses on the ways in which cinema interpreted and represented both contemporary and long-established issues within national and social discourse, while re-assessing notions of national identity, culture and class. Despite a growing body of scholarship on Argentine film published in English over the past few years, the role of more conventional films aimed at the public at large remains underexplored. By combining close textual analysis of films with the study of their cultural context, this book argues that fictional cinema at large addressed predominantly middle-class audiences, offering both reflective and divergent views on social reality that enriched the cultural arena in which Argentineans could reflect on their past, their daily life, and their relationship with the other. In this sense cinema helped Argentine people to learn to live in democracy. Santiago Oyarzabal is Associate Fellow in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-657-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, European Studies, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Over the 1998–2005 period Argentina experienced grave economic problems, and its emergence from them necessitated radical cultural, political and economic change. The transformations that took place had a heavy impact on society, and impinged upon discourses of national, cultural and class identity. The main aim of this book is to explore the cinematic representations of this crisis. The focus will be on the ways the fictional cinema of the time showed and inflected the transformations Argentine society was going through, and the dialogue it established with its mostly local, middle-class audience. By re-situating film production in its cultural and...

  2. 1 Politics, Culture and Film in 1990s Argentina
    (pp. 11-50)

    The 1990s in Argentina were strongly associated with the government of Peronist Carlos Saúl Menem (Partido Justicialista, or PJ, 1989–99) and with the country’s full adoption and consolidation of neoliberal policies, which is regarded by many as a continuation of the socio-economic project of the dictatorship that had governed the country between 1976 and 1983. Daniel García Delgado notes that from 1945 until the mid-1970s, the welfare state held a strategic vision of the economy. Light industrialisation through an import substitution industrialisation (ISI) programme, and prioritisation of the domestic market through the introduction of higher salaries, defined Argentine economy...

  3. 2 The Struggle over Representation: Confronting Argentineans with Their Share in the Crisis
    (pp. 51-82)

    Benedict Anderson’s famous definition of the ‘nation’ characterises it as an ‘imagined community’, or a symbolic construction whose history can be traced within modernity.¹ Anderson’s view stands in sharp contrast with earlier, and some current, notions of nation (and nationalism) which have taken it to be an ‘essential’, natural given whose distinct identity is shared by a unique group of people and determined either by a single criterion such as language, ethnicity, common territory or history, or by a combination of them. During modernity, national identities tended to prevail over other forms of cultural identification. However, with the acceleration of...

  4. 3 The Old New Tricks: Re-engaging the Middle Class
    (pp. 83-124)

    In the period between 1999 and 2005, a time of immense tension and contradiction in Argentine society, several genre films addressed the local crisis. A few crime stories and melodramas referred more or less explicitly to the effect of the economic crunch on culture, class and gender identity. As they did so they established themselves as ‘mediators’ between private sensibilities and public history. Despite receiving mixed local reviews, they won audiences both at home and abroad. In contrast to films such as Bolivia, La ciénaga and El bonaerense, analysed in Chapter 2, genre films tended to focus on the better-off...

  5. 4 Laughing It Off? Comedy and Humour in the Face of Crisis
    (pp. 125-162)

    It might seem as if Argentineans had very few reasons for laughter during the years of crisis. Yet comedy proved to be a crucial element to films seeking to comment on society, its history and culture. Films used diverse forms of visual and verbal humour to address subjects such as the family, friendship, history, tradition, social commitment, economic hardship and political change. By employing very distinctive traditions of humour they offered a space for reflection on both the problems of the past and those of the present, and they asked questions about culture and society. Comedy, in particular children’s movies...

  6. Conclusion
    (pp. 163-166)

    The installation of a neoliberal political regime and its ultimate collapse left a profound imprint on Argentine national, cultural and class identities. In a context of rapid change, the need to challenge and redefine one’s place in the world was crucial for the people of Argentina as they endured one of the worst economic crises ever to hit the country. With its different representations of the period’s social transformations, domestic fiction cinema accompanied the change in national direction towards an economic, social and political model that sought to revive some of the key features of the welfare model that existed...