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Imagination Beyond Nation

Imagination Beyond Nation: Latin American Popular Culture

Eva P. Bueno
Terry Caesar
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  • Book Info
    Imagination Beyond Nation
    Book Description:

    Can scholarly pursuit of soap operas and folk art actually reveal a national imagination? This innovative collection features studies of iconography in Mexico, telenovelas in Venezuela, drama in Chile, cinema in Brazil, comic strips and tango in Argentina, and ceramics in Peru. In examining these popular arts, the scholars gathered here ask the same broad questions: what precisely is a national culture at the level of the popular? The national idea in Latin America emerges from these pages as a problematic, divided one, worth sustained attention in the field of culture studies. Many different arts come forth in all their richness and vitality, compelling us to look, listen, and understand.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-9058-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction The Politics of the Popular in Latin American Popular Culture
    (pp. 1-16)

    We introduce this collection by quoting from an exemplary Latin American genre: the manifesto. We cite this particular one, “For a Popular Revolutionary Art,” written in 1962 by Carlos Estevam Martins, for the boldness of its presentation, not because we endorse it. Indeed, the essays is this volume dismantle virtually every one of the manifesto’s implications. Nonetheless, we begin with it both because its dismissal of what it terms “the art of the people” and its contempt for “popular art” go immediately to the heart of what commends Latin American popular culture as a fit object for study, either on...


    • 1 Gender, Ethnicity and Piety The Case of the China Poblana
      (pp. 19-38)

      The mention of thechina poblanain mexico today evokes images of a dark-haired, dark-eyed young Mexican woman dancing thejarabe tapatío(Mexican Hat Dance) and wearing a white embroidered blouse, a full green skirt adorned with ribbons, and a redrebozo(shawl). In fact, this image was officially adopted in 1941 as the national archetype for Mexican women. Luís Andrade explains that a monument was erected to commemorate Catarina de San Juan as the creator of the national archetype, thechina poblana:

      Se perpetúe en un grandioso y simbólico monumento público la inmortal figura de CATARINA DE SAN JUAN,...


    • 2 Caipira Culture The Politics of Nation in Mazzaropi’s Films
      (pp. 41-63)
      EVA P. BUENO

      The films of amacio mazzaropi present a provocative site for studying the relationship between cinema and national culture. First of all, they occupy the boundary between this culture and any others; Mazzaropi’s films are as unknown outside Brazil as they are known by virtually everyone inside Brazil. Second, and far more important, the films mark a boundary between popular and elite culture. Almost twenty years after his death, Mazzaropi’s work remains widely available in video stores throughout Brazil (especially in the south), while it is still disdained as a subject for serious critical consideration.

      Mazzaropi started as a circus and...

    • 3 Big Snakes on the Streets and Never Ending Stories The Case of Venezuelan Telenovelas
      (pp. 64-80)

      Thetelenovelais an important expression of latin American popular culture not only because of its success with the public, but also because it reflects this public’s symbolic and affective world. Thetelenovelais the main source of support for several television channels in Latin America; hence, it is not surprising that the TV channels have consolidated the popularity of the genre, since they depend so much on them. Oscar López stresses that “telenovelasare the basic staple of all Latin American TV programming (day and prime-time) of Spanish-language programming in the U.S., and, to a lesser degree, of TV...

    • 4 From Mafalda to Boogie The City and Argentine Humor
      (pp. 81-106)

      There has been much change in argentina during the last decades. Narratives born under a fragile political equilibrium, rife with the neglect of civil liberties and the predatory execution of neoliberal policies, are bound to illustrate social and economic upheaval. It is to be expected that graphic humor should mimic prevailing social dynamics as well as acknowledge the tacit exchanges of power throughout society. Given these developments, I propose to study a geographic shift in Argentine graphic humor: the change from a typical Buenos Aires vicinity inMafalda, the famed comic strip by Joaquín Salvador Lavado, to the New York...


    • 5 Framing the Peruvian Cholo Popular Art by Unpopular People
      (pp. 109-128)

      In the 1980s a new wave of “folk art,” featuring likenesses of the peasant class, made a place for itself on the shelves and walls of Lima’s upscale art boutiques and souvenir shops. In Peru, this work can now be found in posh hotels, in attorneys’ and doctors’ inner offices, and in many other settings where collectors wish to display their attention to high fashion. Outside Peru, this highly marketable work can be found in the homes of those who receive catalogues or on-line advertisements from enterprises that market international products with folk art appeal.¹ To appropriate what David Rockefeller...

    • 6 You’re All Guilty Lo Cubano in the Confession
      (pp. 129-141)

      In july 1996, the cuban movie star rosita fornés was scheduled to make several appearances in Miami.¹ This was a rare opportunity for the most famous of the so-called vedettes to perform in South Florida. Promoters booked theaters in South Miami Beach and at EI Centro Vasco on the famous Calle Ocho. As the dates approached, many questions arose regarding Fornés’s politics. After all, she still lived in Cuba and had not publicly broken with Fidel Castro’s government. When it became known that she had no intention of breaking with Castro and in fact planned to return to Cuba after...

    • 7 The Cueca of the Last Judgment: Politics of Chilean Resistance in Tres Marías y una Rosa
      (pp. 142-166)

      Since its inception in the first years of the republic, Chilean theater has had the intention to reflect upon the national reality in its various phases, crises, and transformations. This tendency was already clear when, on September 10, 1812, during the struggle for independence, the patriot Fray Camilo Henríquez wrote in the newspaperAurora de Chile, “I consider the theater as a public school, and therefore the dramatic muse is a great tool for politics.” Fray Henríquez championed theater as an essential part of the struggle for emancipation from colonial oppression. The theater, as the pedagogic hand of the builders...

    • 8 Tango, Buenos Aires, Borges: Cultural Production and Urban Sexual Regulation
      (pp. 167-192)

      If anything is known about buenos aires, it is this: Buenos Aires is the home of the tango. Although most people know the tango only as dance—dance accompanied by music, to be sure, but one that records the tradition of the tango as poetry before it was ever orchestrated and choreographed—it is impossible to consult a respectable guide-book about Buenos Aires without observing that the tango is one of the great tourist attractions of the city.¹ While one may quibble with this characterization of the tango because it is thought to appeal to a universalized international tourist audience,...


    • 9 Myth, Modernity, and Postmodern Tragedy in Walter Lima’s The Dolphin
      (pp. 195-209)

      Brazilian director walter lima’sthe dolphin(Ele, a Boto, 1987) offers one variant of the widespread folktales, told from the rain forests of the Andean countries to the Caribbean basin, about the metamorphosis of dolphins into human beings. Although there are as many renderings of these stories as there are storytellers, most of these accounts share several common elements, among them the enchanted dolphin orencantado’s proclivity for attending regionalfestasdressed in stylish white suits in order to seduce local women and thereby to father half-human children. Indeed, these are precisely the features of the myth that Lima’s interpretation...

    • 10 “Useless Spaces” of the Feminine in Popular Culture: Like Water for Chocolate and The Silent War
      (pp. 210-226)

      Both the wildly popular novel by the mexican author Laura Esquivel,Like Water for Chocolate(1992), and the almost completely unknown pentology,The Silent War(1979–1987) by the Peruvian novelist Manuel Scorza, have at least one thing in common: the figure of woman is central to each text. In the following discussion, I want to study how this figure functions in terms of the idea of culture represented in each work. In neither is culture finally an affair of class or even society; Esquivel’s text, which takes place primarily in domestic space, is staged in terms of ceremony and...

    • 11 Masculinities at the Margins: Representations of the Malandro and the Pachuco
      (pp. 227-264)

      The aim of this discussion is to examine the complex cultural significations assigned to the popular cultural figures of themalandroand thepachuco. Associated with popular cultural resistance to dominant culture in Brazil and the United States, respectively, the figures of themalandroand thepachucohave been mobilized and deployed in the discourses of both hegemonic and subaltern cultures, generating an array of contradictory significations. Their interpretation ranges from vilification as delinquents to celebration as cultural heroes. The meanings of their names have been translated as spiv, wide-boy, rogue, hustler, pimp, black marketeer, gangster, and so forth. The...