The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader

The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader

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The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader brings together thirty-six field-defining essays by the most prominent theorists of Latin American cultural studies. Written over the past several decades, these essays provide an assessment of Latin American cultural studies, an account of the field’s historical formation, and an outline of its significant ideological and methodological trends and theoretical controversies. With many essays appearing in English for the first time, the collection offers a comprehensive view of the specific problems, topics, and methodologies that characterize Latin American cultural studies vis-à-vis British and U.S. cultural studies.

Divided into sections preceded by brief introductory essays, this volume traces the complex development of Latin American cultural studies from its roots in literary criticism and the economic, social, political, and cultural transformations wrought by neoliberal policies in the 1970s. It tracks the impassioned debates within the field during the early 1990s; explores different theoretical trends, including studies of postcolonialism, the subaltern, and globalization; and reflects on the significance of Latin American cultural studies for cultural studies projects outside Latin America. Considering literature, nationalism, soccer, cinema, postcolonialism, the Zapatistas, community radio, and much more, The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader is an invaluable resource for all those who want to understand the past, present, and future of Latin American cultural studies.

Contributors. Hugo Achugar, Eduardo Archetti, John Beverley, José Joaquín Brunner, Antonio Candido, Debra A. Castillo, Antonio Cornejo Polar, Román de la Campa, Ana Del Sarto, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Juan Flores, Jean Franco, Néstor García Canclini, María Gudelia Rangel Gómez, Adrián Gorelik, John Kraniauskas, Neil Larsen, Ana López, Jesús Martín-Barbero, Francine Masiello, Daniel Mato, Walter D. Mignolo, Carlos Monsiváis, Mabel Moraña, Alberto Moreiras, Renato Ortiz, José Rabasa, Angel Rama, Gustavo A. Remedi, Darcy Ribeiro, Nelly Richard, Alicia Ríos, Beatriz Sarlo, Roberto Schwarz, Irene Silverblatt, Graciela Silvestri, Armando Rosas Solís, Beatriz González Stephan, Abril Trigo, George Yúdice

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822385462
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 07/26/2004
Series: Latin America Otherwise
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 832
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Ana Del Sarto is Assistant Professor of Latin American Cultures and Literatures at Bowling Green State University.

Alicia Ríos is Associate Professor of Latin American Literature at Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, Venezuela.

Abril Trigo is Associate Professor of Latin American Cultures at The Ohio State University.

Read an Excerpt

The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader

By Ana Del Sarto, Alicia Ríos, Abril Trigo

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2004 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-8546-2



Introduction by Alicia Ríos


As the preceding introduction has established, "Latin American cultural studies are a disputed field in a global scenario, which cannot be fully understood or further advanced without considering its historical grounding in Latin American sociocultural processes." Thus, "despite common interpretations, Latin American cultural studies are not just the product of an epistemological break ... but also the result of specific historical continuities." It is a field of enquiry that has been mapped out through a series of conflicts, combining the rich Latin American critical tradition with European and North American schools of thought.

In this introduction to part 11 would like to consider the manner in which the very long and important tradition of the Latin American critical essay has been intersected, throughout its history, by certain thematic axes and enunciative positions marking many of its pivotal concerns: questions of the national and the continental, the rural and the urban, tradition versus modernity, memory and identity, subjects and citizenships, and, especially, the role of intellectuals and institutions in the formation of discourse as well as social, cultural, and political practices. These concerns all lead into five cognitive constellations: neocolonialism, modernity and modernization, the national question, the popular, and identities/alterities/ethnicities. From the 1820s—the period immediately following independence—well into the 1960s, Latin American critical and political thought centered, directly or indirectly, on these constellations. Afterward, new critical parameters were constructed, giving rise to what we now call Latin American cultural studies.

The Latin American Critical Essay

The construct now called Latin America has always been marked by desire, perhaps even prior to the coining of this term in the nineteenth century. In this context, desire must be understood doubly: as both a lack as well as a productive force arising as the result of, but also as the vehicle for, a discourse and a praxis that have felt hard-pressed to "invent" their "realities." America has been created on the empty space of a map since its origins. It has been pegged with names whose function it was to reproduce the ideal mental image of the namers—names that inevitably clashed with the other entity already there, or beginning to take shape. Even today, the contours of this map are still being drawn, from within and without, by words attempting to name something that is always managing to escape ideological boundaries.

Latin America's critical essay tradition has rested on this process of invention from Simón Rodríguez and Andres Bello to the present. These "men of letters" had to "think" through each act, and clung to their "dreams of reason" throughout the nineteenth century. That metaphorical dream [of America] in which such men lumped together past, present, and future "authorized" them to decide what was suitable, desirable, and appropriate for the rest of the continent's inhabitants.

The wars of independence end in the mid-1820s, with the exception of those in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Once a relative peace was achieved, since throughout that first century quarrels between different ethnic and social groups abounded, the new republics committed themselves to (re-)construction, everything from roads and farm fields to, especially, the manner in which future citizens should think and express themselves. The fixation on a proper language "of their own" not only made possible the formation of a new citizenry, but also permitted control over other subjects, still in need of discipline and education. Teachers and educators, like Rodríguez and Bello, become fundamental figures. The lettered ruling class placed great faith in the role that teachers/educators would play in elaborating the premises for the successful consolidation of the new states. Rodríguez became instrumental in the development of primary education, Bello in that of the university; both left the mark of their ideas on the usage of an Americanized Spanish language (in law, grammar, and society in general). The tradition of the critical essay, aparticularly Latin American form of expression, begins with these two educators and men of letters.

Bello's often cited silvas, a poetic form from the Spanish Golden Age, Alocución a la poesía (1823) and Silva a la agriculture de la zona tórrida (1826), written in London, mark the beginning of a recurrent theme: the need to focus strictly on the American. It is, however, when writing from Chile that Bello develops a pedagogic program to be followed, especially in his articles on the manner in which to write and study history (1848), as well as in his Discurso en el establecimiento de la Universidad de Chile (1843). In the latter, the idea of the university as an enclave of "disinterested culture" or of "knowledge for knowledge's sake," which would later prevail, had no place. For Bello, very much in step with the beliefs of his age, "knowledge in its diverse disciplines, should be an instrument for the supervision of public life" (Ramos 1989,40). Bello begins a timid reflection there on the boundaries between academic disciplines, which has nothing to do with our current conceptions. His polemic with José Victoriano Lastarria, for instance, has been catalogued by literary historiography as "literary," although at the time it was seen as cultural and, mostly, political. In his two later essays on history, Bello deepened such reflections and posited the value of the social sciences over philosophy. On the one hand, he argues, we have philosophers, politicians, and orators; on the other, historians, whose method is not speculation, but rather a "synthetic induction," or narrative, which allowed them to furnish antecedents and clarify facts. The need to construct/write national histories in order to find the "true" meaning of the national and to discover the differences between nations arises from this notion of Bello's.

Rodríguez, meanwhile, especially in his Sociedades americanas en 1828, coined the important phrase "Either we create or we err" (Rodríguez 1975, 343) in his pursuit of a new definition of the American. Both men promoted a "second" revolution, to which would be entrusted the happy outcome of the first one, initiated at the political level by the various liberators/heroes of independence. This new and more profound second revolution would not be led by the military, but rather by civilian men of letters, despite Bello's, Rodríguez's, and likewise Bolivar's lack of faith in their capabilities and maturity.

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento capitalized on this lack in order to focus his attack on the unlettered caudillos (local political war leaders) from the continent's hinterlands. Sarmiento was president of Argentina from 1868 to 1874, but not before having been twice exiled to Chile, where he wrote and published in episodic installments the political pamphlet that has undoubtedly had the widest of continental renown, his Civilización y barbarie. Vida de Juan Facundo Quiroga (1845). In this text, Sarmiento achieves a most accurate and vivid representation of the hatreds between his country's two opposing political parties, the federal and the unitarian, each with its own model of government. According to Sarmiento, the only way for Argentina to stay on its predestined road to success was to rid itself of its greatest enemy, the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, who embodied the backwardness and ignorance of the hinterlands. Similarly, he held that there would be a place only for those who were willing to overcome past limitations and to focus on the development of Buenos Aires as the nation's hub.

With the publication of Facundo, the constant counterpoint between the amenities/abundance of the cities and the backwardness of rural life, between modernity and tradition, between Western and local values defines itself in Latin American writing. Likewise, the conscious admixture of various literary genres and types of writing also becomes normative with its publication. Facundo is a fundamental text in the attempted construction of a Latin American ideal based on the hope of synthesizing all contradictions; it is at once history, sociology, moral treatise, novel, biography, political pamphlet, and, above all, essay. A strictly American representation and expression begin to take shape, thanks precisely to this mix: that is, the unavoidable coexistence of the transcultural, the heterogeneous, and the hybrid not only in the society in which it is a lived experience, but also in the expression that attempts to represent it. Given his zeal for eliminating dichotomies undoubtedly at the heart of his text's take on civilization, which is in open opposition to barbarism, it is curious that Sarmiento leaves this hybrid text of mixed genres to express "reality" as his legacy. This tendency led him, toward the end of his life, to develop an explicitly racist theory in Conflicto y armonía de razas en América (1883), a sort of bible for later pragmatic utilitarianism.

According to Arturo Andrés Roig's important study, Teoría y crítica del pensamiento latinoamericano, the word civilization began to be used in the sense Sarmiento gives it toward the end of the eighteenth century as a reflection of a newly evident social problematic, "a matter that comes about in direct and intimate relation to the social antagonisms such as those generated in colonized and dependent countries.... The nineteenth-century conflict between the pre-bourgeoisies of the Río de la Plata, avidly pursuing the processes of modernization in a bid to hasten their entrance into the sphere of industrialized nations, and the peasants and the older artisan's guilds formed at the end of the eighteenth century is well known" (Roig 1981, 67-68). The need to overcome "the barbarous" will be a theme repeated or inverted throughout Latin American history, as will the values of civilization and of "culture" along with very radical positivistic policies that find one of their highpoints in Juan Bautista Alberdi's famous dictum: "To govern means to populate." Man's duty was to conquer the immense plains, fence them in, urbanize them, and force nature to conform to human designs.

In Sarmiento, then, we find the typical Latin American man of letters: at one and the same time politician, statesman, and writer. It would have been impossible at the outset of the republics for reflection and creation not to have been tied to governmental functions, a panorama that would change with the advent of modernismo as a literary (and cultural) movement at the end of that first century of republican life, a life then conceived of only within the parameters of modernity and modernization, but that fell under an intense system of unequal commercial and cultural exchange with its European and North American counterparts. The accelerated process of modernization, catalyzing the transformation of the political sphere and the progressive disappearance of entire social sectors, also brought about unprecedented socioeconomic development, especially in the Río de la Plata region.

The professionalism made possible by the development of the press and its respective correspondents' posts allowed the turn-of-the-century writer, among other things, to finally become independent of his lettered function and count himself solely as an intellectual and/or a creator. In this respect, the figure of José Martí is emblematic. Martí not only continued to consolidate the long tradition of the critical essay, but also initiated with greater autonomy the so-called literary essay. Like Rubén Darío, Martí took the newspaper chronicle, that genre straddling literature and journalism, to its highest level of expression, creating a space for reflection on the hectic years at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth (see Rotker 1991). One of Martí's most important contributions and a classic work of Latin Américan thought in its own right is his Nuestra América (1891), in which he posits a new "definition" of race, one of the terms most feared and most frequendy appealed to in America. In this text Martí tells us that "there is no racial hatred because there are no races" (1980,17). He did not mean to say by this that there were no whites, blacks, Indians, and mestizos, but rather that race did not exist in the biological sense of the word. Race existed from a rather different perspective: that of the oppressed, that of the slave. This is Martí's response to Sarmiento, whom he undoubtedly engages in dialogue here. Martí was opposed to the positivistic biological conception of race, and he would surely have also opposed José Enrique Rodós vision, clearly more "cultural" than that of Sarmiento, but based equally on Latin racial pride.

Martí proposed a different concept of "ours": pride in being who and what (Latin)Americans are. Originality and authenticity are posited as values, according to which (Latin)Americans would no longer be forced to follow foreign models of government, for example, but had, instead, to create new and more adequate models, if need be, even making wine from bananas (in many ways reiterating Simón Rodríguez's motto: "Either we create or we err"). Martí puts forth the idea of Our America as a motive for continental political unity, and as the only possible avenue of defense against the new power to the north, that "seven league monster," the United States, against which not only Cuba, but the rest of (Latin)America must also defend itself.

Yet another fundamental text in Latin American critical thought, José Enrique Rodó's Ariel (1900), makes its appearance at the turn of the century. Framed within the context of the Spanish-American War (1898), the Spanish crown's last attempt at saving its few remaining colonies— Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines—Rodó's text, again a composite of genres—essay, speech, and parable—posits the need to defend the values of "Latinness" in light of neocolonial encroachment from the new northern power. As in the case of the previously mentioned texts, this essay looks toward the future and its most valued, designated reading audience consisted of young people from all Latin American nations.

Ever an avid devotee of science and technology—as the good "modern" he was—Rodó did not align himself with positivism; his response was more in keeping with a renovated idealism attempting to salvage aesthetic and individual values in danger of extinction from imperial capitalism and utilitarian mass society. Despite being a close follower of Ernest Renan, Rodó was in favor of certain democratic ideas; when he spoke of aristocracy, it was not on the basis of economic or social privileges, but rather on that of merit earned from honest work and the cultivation of uncorrupted values. He tried "to reconcile the most stabilizing principles of European tradition with the redefinition of the social order in order to assure the mechanisms for increasing, but regulated, participation by the masses" (Morana 1982, 658). At the heart of his thought is a hidden desire for a society in which differences and heterogeneity could be overcome, thus creating a world in which Latin and criollo cultural values would prevail, including leisure in the classic sense of the term.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

General Introduction / Abril Trigo 1

I. Forerunners Introduction / Alicia Rios

Traditions and Fractures in Latin American Cultural Studies 15

Literature and Underdevelopment / Antonio Candido 35

Excerpts from The Americas and Civilization: “Evolutionary Acceleration and Historical Incorporation, “The Genuine and the Spurious,” and “National Ethnic Typology” / Darcy Ribeiro 58

Caliban: Notes Toward a Discussion of Culture in Our Americas/Roberto Fernandez Retamar 83

Indigenismo and Heterogeneous Literatures: Their Double Sociocultural Statute / Antonio Cornejo Polar 100

Mestizaje, Transculturation, Heterogeneity / Antonio Cornejo Polar 116

Literature and Culture / Angel Rama 120

II. Foundations Introduction / Ana Del Sarto

The 1980s: Foundations of Latin American Cultural Studies 153

Plotting Women: Popular Narratives for Women in the United States and Latin America / Jean Franco 183

Would So Many Millions of People Not End Up Speaking English? The North American Culture and Mexico / Carlos Monsivais 203

Brazilian Culture: Nationalism by Elimination / Roberto Schwarz 233

Intellectuals: Scission or Mimesis? / Beatriz Sarlo 250

The Movable Center: Geographical Discourses and Territoriality During the Expansion of the Spanish Empire / Walter Mignolo 262

Notes on Modernity and Postmodernity in Latin American Culture / Jose Joaquin Brunner 291

A Nocturnal Map to Explore a New Field / Jesus Martin-Barbero 310

Cultural Studies from the 1980s-1990s: Anthropological and Sociological Perspectives in Latin America / Nestor Garcia Canclini 329

III. Practices Introduction / Abril Trigo

The 1990s: Practices and Polemics within Latin American Cultural Studies 347

Political Disenfranchisement / Irene Silverblatt 375

On Citizenship: The Grammatology of the Body-Politic / Beatriz Gonzalez Stephan 384

Male Hybrids in the World of Soccer / Eduardo Archetti 406

The Past as the Future: A Reactive Utopia in Buenos Aires / Adrian Corelik and Graciela Silvestri 427

Tears and Desire: Women and Melodrama in the “Old” Mexican Cinema / Ana M. Lopez 441

The Unbearable Lightness of History: Bestseller Scripts for Our Times / Francine Masiello 459

Legitimacy and Lifestyles / Renato Ortiz 474

The Transnational Making of Representations of Gender, Ethnicity, and Culture: Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival / Daniel Mato 498

The Production of Local Public Spheres: Community Radio Stations / Gustavo A. Remedi 513

Mimicry and the Uncanny in Caribbean Discourse / Romn De La Campa 535

Of Zapatismo: Reflections on the Folkloric and the Impossible in Subaltern Insurrection / John Rabasa 561

Tentative Exchanges: Tijuana Prostitutes and Their Clients / Debra A. Castillo, Maria Gudelia Rangel, Gomez and Armando Rosas Solis 584

The Latino Imaginary: Meanings of Community and Identity / Juan Flores 606

IV. Positions and Polemics

Writing in Reverse: On the Project of Latin American Subaltern Studies Group / John Beverly 623

The Boom of the Subaltern / Mabel Morana 643

Latin American Intellectuals in a Post-Hegemonic Era / George Yudice 655

Local/Global Latin Americanisms: “Theoretical Babbling” apropos Roberto Fernandez Retamar / Hugo Achugar 669

Intersecting Latin America with Latin Americanism: Academic Knowledge, Theoretical Practice, and Cultural Criticism / Nelly Richard 686

Irruption and Conservation: Some Conditions of Latin Americanist Critique / Alberto Moreiras 706

The Cultural Studies Movement and Latin America: An Overview / Neil Larsen 728

Hybridity in a Transnational Frame: Latin Americanist and Postcolonial Perspectives on Cultural Studies / John Kraniauskas 736

Mestizaje and Hybridity: The Risk of Metaphors--Notes / Antonio Cornejo Polar 760

Works Cited 765

Acknowledgments of Copyrights 805

Index 811

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