Monday, January 26, 2009

last 201- what is popular culture in latin america?

What is Popular Culture in Latin America?

“The Faces of Popular Culture” reveals several facets of Latin American culture, so for my blog I will comment on only a few main points. I thought it was interesting how the authors portrayed the modernization and industrialization of the twentieth century not as simply destroying the traditional culture of Latin America, but as creating an infused culture. This infused culture represents both Native and Hispanic, as well as rural and urban influences.

One interesting example of modernization and urbanization transforming the significance of traditional culture is with Mexican handcrafts. The article explains how these handcrafts, although originally sculpted for practical usage, now serve almost purely aesthetic purposes. These crafts, coined “airport art,” have grown to represent traditional culture. Although their initial purpose has significantly changed, natives and tourists still regard them as a symbol of national identity.

I thought the description of popular Catholicism was very interesting. I sometimes associate Christianization with the complete obliteration of Native religions. Therefore, this article provided a new perspective through its description of Catholicism in Latin America being heavily embedded with traditional religious beliefs. This article describes Catholic rituals celebrating patron saints as placing less importance on the traditional priest figure. Instead, the ritual involves a capelao, often an elderly woman who serves as the collective memory of the people. I think this is really interesting, knowing that traditional catholic doctrine is very male-centred. Additionally, this article describes how a sort of mythical or magical undercurrent often accompanies these ceremonies, which is further reflective of traditional spiritual influences.

The last aspect of this article I want to comment on is the significance of soccer in Latin American popular culture. They explain how when the British first brought soccer to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the nineteenth century people considered it a very elite sport. I was a bit taken aback when I read that the players spoke in English to distinguish themselves as gentleman- why should society perceive speaking in English as some sort of highbrow, privileged behaviour? Anyways, I thought it was cool how in Brazil soccer became increasingly popular amongst the working classes, and that it developed into a huge national identity symbol.

Well that’s it for now. I know I didn’t comment on a lot of other interesting examples, but I hope to learn more in class. Bye!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that it was very interesting that the authors of this article argued that modernization and industrialization didn't wipe out traditional Latin American culture. In past articles that I've read, this is usually the main argument, that modernization and industrialization have been bad things for the indigenous communities of Latin America. It is refreshing to see a different view on this hot topic.
    I also enjoyed the description of popular Catholicism in this article. I liked the angle the authors took towards this topic, stressing the mixing of Catholic and indigenous religious elements, rather than the absolute takeover of Catholicism. Similar to you, I also associated Christianization with the wiping out of indigenous religions, prior to reading this article.