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•April 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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I will confess that I have some difficulties to realize that we are at the end of the year. The end of the year also means for me the end of my exchange year and my return to France! I will definitely miss Vancouver and the way of learning in Canada. Indeed, in France the courses are more based on theoretical analysis. Actually, I really enjoy to explore concepts throughout the studies of different kind of texts (essays, speeches, narratives,..). I also found really interesting that we have to write a blog. Indeed, I think that it encourage the discussion. Similarly, I really like discussing about the readings in class in small group.

However, even if I assume that all the texts were interesting, I think that some readings were a little too long. In fact, I have the impression that in course, we do not have enough time to discuss deeply all the concepts of the texts. Moreover, I would have enjoyed to have more background about the readings, because I guess that, contrary to many people in the class, I do not know a lot about the social and political history of Latin America.

Anyway, I particularly enjoyed reading the text of Rowe William and Vivian Schelling because I assume that it deeply stresses the impact of modernization on the popular culture.

Finally, I think that the course was really interested. Now, I feel like to learning more not only about popular culture in Latin America but also about history of Latin America.

Anyway.. Happy holydays everyone and Good luck for you exams!


•March 24, 2009 • 2 Comments

I found that the point of the author about hybridization was hard to get. I must confess that I cannot clearly understand the differences between hybridization, transculturation and syncretism. I found really interesting the first arguments of Calclini about popular culture as a construction of the elite. He explains that there is some clichés about popular culture. He points out that “there is an intrinsic interest on the part of the hegemonic sectors to promote modernity and a fatal destiny on the part of the popular sectors that keeps them rooted in traditions”. Therefore, most of the time, popular culture is considered as something traditional, rural and subaltern. According to him, there is a theatricalization of popular culture based on the folklore, the culture industry and political populism. He points out six refutation of the biased views about popular culture. “Culture have developed by being transformed, (…) peasant and traditional cultures no longer represent the major part of popular culture (…) the popular is not concentrated in objects, the popular is not the monopoly of he popular sectors, the popular is not lived by popular subjects as a melancholic complacency with traditions” Moreover, Canclini stresses the relation between folk culture and the state and how the state use folk culture to attract tourist and control the mass. I think the example of the tourism was really interesting because it shows to what extent the state rework the meaning of popular culture and use folk culture as the base of national identity Finally, I think that Clanclini explain really the theory of hybridization at the end of his article. He explains that there is not an authentic popular culture. He choose the example of the monuments to illustrate his concept of hybridization because “public rites and monumental constructions express the historic impulse of mass movement”. I think that as the way of considering these national images changes, the hybridization implies change. Deterritorialization and Decollecting are two relevant notions to understand hybridization. However, I do not get clearly the meaning of hybridization and I hope the course of today will help me to understand its characteristics.

popular culture as mass culture

•March 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I do my post for last week today because I was quite busy last week and I did not manage to do it properly. Anyway, I found the two articles quite interesting. We are quite used to associating Latin America with the two examples given this week. Indeed, the futebol and the telenovelas have a broad and multinational audience. The first article about the futebol was interesting. Indeed, I know that futebol was a popular sport in Latin America but I did not realize that it has such a big impact. In his article, Alex Bellos stressed the relationship between futebol and politics. He explains, « Futebol gives Brazilians a feeling of national identity-citizenship ». Thus, the defeat of 1950 is considered as « the most beautiful and most glorified (…) historical examples of national crisis in Brazil ». But, how a sport could embody a nation? I think that this defeat transformed the futebol into a national element. Indeed, Brazil was a young country and had not any experiences of a national tragedy. That is why; this defeat became a symbol of the Brazilian identity. I assume that after this defeat, the national identity increase. But, the identity created seems to be based on a « sense of inferiority and shame ». Thus, Brazilians suffer from this defeat but their sufferings contribute to increase the national feelings of identity. Nevertheless, some of the aftermaths of the defeat were also the rise of the racism against people from slave backgrounds. Thus, the model of a Brazilian nation based on mestizaje was put into question. This illustrated how it is difficult to make a nation. I found the second text also interesting. It deals about the telenovelas in Latin America. Ortega explains that modern telenovelas are inspired by radio novelas, which were broadcasted in the early 1900’s. This text reminds me the article of William Rowe and Vivian Schelling who explain that the telenovelas are the new form of the folletos, which were prevalent at the end of the 19th century. Thus, the development of telenovelas traduces the change from a traditional society to a modern and urban society. Moreover, the author stresses the relationship between the upper culture and the popular culture comparing the opera with the telenovelas. I assume that the two types of cultures are both important in the construction of a national feeling.


•March 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

The last time we speak about mestizaje, we enlighten the fact that the theory of syncretism was based on an idea of the dominance of one culture on the others.  Thus, the « cosmic race » resulted to be a way to purify the indigenous cultures, which were considered as inferiors. Contrary to the theory in term of syncretism, the transculturation is « a synthesis (of cultures) able to overcome originating contradictions, then another theoretical device would have to be formulated in order to explain sociocultural situations and discourses in which the dynamics of the multiple intercrossings do not operate in a syncretic way but instead emphasize conflicts and alterities.»  (Antonio Cornejo Polar p.117).
First, in his text of Antonio Cornejo Polar, explains that the literature in Latin America is based on ruptures. The first ones, was obviously the conquest of the Spaniards, but other forms of heterogeneity also emerge such as the mix of culture with slave population. These ruptures are the base of the mixing cultures in Latin America. These ruptures also stress the term of national literature. Indeed, this term does not seem to be relevant to depict the Latin American literature. First, this term is too broad and is incapable to enlighten the « intranational variant » of the literature of a country. Otherwise, it undermines the possibility of broader categorization. Anyway, Antonio Cornejo points out the fact that the context and the interpretation of Latin American literature by other cultures are also relevant to understand Latin American literature. Indeed, when the chronicles interpret the books of the Latin American writers, they add their own subjectivity. Thus, even if the Latin American literature could be considered as unique, it still is judged by a European point of view. Thus, the theories of dominance between cultures are still relevant.
Moreover, I think that the first text was very interesting because it provides an analysis of the mestizaje in a particular country. The text depicts the different cultures that are represented in modern Cuban culture, a mix of European culture, indigenous ones and African. He enlightens how these cultures inferred and played an important part in the development of a mixed Cuban culture.
Finally, the last text was interesting too. It gives a deep analysis of the concept of transculturation. Thus, transculturation results to be an ideal mixing between different cultures, which consider each other as equal. Transculturation enlightens the differences between the cultures in order to attempt to erase the relation of dominance between the cultures.

State and Popular culture: a complex relation.

•March 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I think that these two texts enlighten the relationship between State and popular culture. How does State infer in popular culture?
The first text focuses on the evolution of Mexican murals. The author particularly discusses the fact that these murals suffered from several onslaughts of the governments. He raises the issue that these murals are still considered as a symbol of public expression whereas it « is effaced by cyclical onslaughts of governments or electoral propaganda, is displaced in the colonization of urban space by commercial advertising and images, and suffers the more gradual erasure inflicted by the elements on work of art executed within the marginal economy of the unofficial » (p29). Moreover, he compares the murals as palimpsests. The palimpsests were the paper on which the people wrote in the Antiquity. They wrote new things on already used paper, and thus, they erased the previous thing they had written. This means that as the political situation of the country change, the murals as a form of popular culture evolves too. However, as it evolves, it also erases the previous murals.  In his text, Campbell shows how the Mexican governments used murals does as an object of power. For example, he explains that murals were used to increase the nationalism in Mexico. Most of the time, it depicts the people. Nevertheless, even if the government used Mexican murals, it seems that the murals had its own ideology. This explains why murals suffered from censorship.  However, now, murals are considered as « things of the past » because of the modernization, the urbanization and the rise of advertising. What does it mean? In their text, William Rowe and Vivian Schelling explain that the media, which convey popular culture, evolve but still be alive. Could we say the same thing for murals? Are the Mexicans murals and their ideology still alive?
Then, I do not clearly understand the second text. The style is complicated and the text is full of metaphors. State is compared with « a queen mountain ».  I think the author tries to explain how the imposition of the nation-state was difficult for other people (African slaves, Indians, ect.)  who were not used to living in a nation-state organisation. The acceptance of this model was followed by wars and violence. Today, the popular culture is also inspired by this reaction against the model of nation-state. Could this explain why states are so suspicious towards popular culture?

The pernicious side of the term “mestizaje”

•February 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

Before reading the text, I only consider the positive side of the term « mestizaje ». Indeed, I think that term implies that the two cultures are considered as equal and that their specificities are recognized. Nevertheless, throughout my reading, I understood that the term « mestizaje » is more complex. In fact, the mixing of people also implies some pernicious effects.

First, I must confess that in Vancelos’ article    some arguments scandalize me. Indeed, he clearly establishes a hierarchy between different races and considers some as civilized and other as uncivilized. Sometimes, his article reminds me the theory of Darwin about the differences between the races and the superiority to the White people over the other races. Obviously, according to him, there is a gap between the Whites and the indigenous. However, mixing the two, a new race ridded of its uncivilized customs could rise.  This « cosmic race » will erase the racial divides. Yet, even if, people who are « mestizaje » seem to be considered as equal as the Whites are, he does not explain whether people who have only indigenous background suffer from racism.
Conversely, Wade’s article points out that the concept of « mestizaje » does not only imply a process of inclusion but also a process of exclusion. Indeed, in many Latin American countries, the building of the nation-state was based on the concept of « mestizaje ». A race of « mestizaje » symbolizes the syncretism of two cultures, which transform themselves and create a new culture, which is impregnated of the two background cultures. Nevertheless, most of the time, one of the two cultures is consider as inferior to the other one. Thus, even if « the mestizaje » do not really suffer from racism, this does not mean that people who are from indigenous background do not suffer from race divides. In fact, they are still regarded as inferior.
Thus, the term « mestizaje » could be use to hide a form of racism which is not obvious but unconscious. As concerns popular culture, I think that, even if, the indigenous heritage of popular culture in Latin America is promoted, people from indigenous background are not as well integrated as other ones.

Popular culture as folk culture.

•February 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

This week, the readings were quite entertaining. Indeed, I really enjoyed readings some legends and stories. These legends are a part of folk culture and of popular culture too. What are the differences between these two terms?  Do they have the same meanings?

Folk culture is composed of myths and traditions. Generally, legends from folk culture are oral ones. But, as production processes and ways to communicate change, the ways to convey these legends also change. These modern legends published in 1997, are inspired by indigenous myths. So, folk culture is not only composed with the legacy of ancient civilizations, it renews it.

It deals with ancient Gods or mystic characters but it also conveys a message and some values. That’s why; I assume that it could be considered as apologues. Indeed, even if these legends look unreal, it deals with people and their culture. For example, in the legend of « The singing tablets », Utuquel explains that « to create is to steal. » What does it mean? Art is inspired by things which already exists and by common things. It inspired by ancient civilizations and influences by ancient values. Thus, there is no really pure creation. As we learn it in the text of William Rowe and Vivian Schelling, culture is influenced by progress, new processes of production and change of mentality. However, a culture keeps its heritage and transforms it, adapts it to new contexts. Thus, the process is not a creation but regeneration.

Moreover, I find some similarities between the last text and the text of Eva Perron. According to Eva Perron, the people who are humiliated and exploited are also the people of God. Similarly, in the text, Saint Francis seems to be on the side of the poor and humble people. The turns upside-down at the end of the text, illustrates that the situation must change. However, the main difference between the two texts, is that in Evita Peron one, the people have to fight for their rights, they are an actor, a force, whereas, in the text of José Maria Arguedas the people are submissive and seem to wait passively for their relief.

Finally, folk culture is composed of myths, legends and heritage of ancient civilizations. However, regarding the texts of this week, I have the impression that folk culture is only based on indigenous myths and tradition. Yet, I assume that folk culture is also composed with Spanish popular culture and African popular one.

What is popular culture in Latin America?

•January 27, 2009 • 3 Comments

The text of Rowe William, who is a professor of religious philosophy, proposes to understand the concept of popular culture in Latin America. In class, we have already discussed about the concepts of culture and people. But, to what extent, popular culture in Latin America is unique?
First, popular culture in Latin America seems to be a mix of three cultures: pre-Columbian cultures, Spanish popular culture and modernism. I think that the plaza of the three cultures in Mexico illustrates well the construction of a popular culture around these three elements. As Rowe explains it, pre-Columbian cultures and their traditions were not totally swept out by Spaniards. In fact, Catholicism who developed in Latin America was influenced by Indian system of beliefs. Thus, popular culture in Latin America is related to religion. It is the result of a cultural syncretism. Thus, the Catholicism of Latin America seems to be unique because it mixes the Catholic official church, the Spanish popular idea of Catholicism and some Indian beliefs.
Moreover, popular culture is not a fixed concept. Indeed, the concept of popular culture evolved.  It was sometimes used as a counter culture against the dominance of the Spaniards or as an opposition to modernity. But in the same time, it results to be influenced by these new elements and incorporates them. Thus, popular culture proposes a continuous renewal.  Even if, many authors point out that mass production of culture reduce the role of popular culture as a ferment of collective memory, according to Rowe William, it goes on being a fundamental element of collective consciousness.
Rowe also explains that there is a continuation between the rural popular culture and the urban one in Latin America. Indeed, the wave of peasants, going to cities in order to work, brought popular culture from rural sites into cities. However, popular culture in city changed and adapted to new logics based on capitalist system. Nowadays, as three fourth of the Latin American people are urban, we could say that now, popular culture is merely urban. As popular rural culture infers with capitalist system, some changes occurs.  The capitalist logic influence popular culture in many fields. These changes have advantages and drawbacks. Generally thinking, popular culture is no longer used only as a vector of a collective consciousness, but also, as an economic product. Thus, the topical issue is:  do the changes of popular culture into an economic product reduce its importance as a factor of collective consciousness?

What is people?

•January 20, 2009 • 1 Comment

The concept of the people seems difficult to understand. Does the word it mean nation? Does it symbolize a particular class of people?
I was quite disappointed when I read the text of Eva Peron, first, because I did not find a clear answer to my questions, then, because I expected to an objective definition of this word, such as the ones we had last week to define the concept of culture, and, I read a political speech impregnated with personal opinions and some demagogy.
I must confess that before reading these texts, I wanted to study a little the history of Argentina because I did not know a lot about the period of the beginning of the 20th century in Argentina. I learnt that Eva Peron and her husband influenced a lot the history of Argentina. They fought for the social development of their country, its democratization, and for its independence regarding the United States. However, I was quite shocked when I read this speech because it clearly aims at manipulating the masses in order to convince them to support Juan Perron.
Throughout his text, she used different elements of rhetoric so as to reach her goal. First, she explains that she wants to reveal a terrible truth, but she does not directly tell us that truth. First, she enlightens her love for « her people » using different metaphors and the pathetic register. Then, she reminds us that she has stayed loyal and courageous for her people. She also keeps repeating that the oligarchy exploits people in order to develop the hatred of people against them. Moreover, she identifies a clear dichotomy between the friends of the people i.e. Peron’s supporters and the people who do not support Perron who are automatically considered as enemies. She also uses a mystical style, and the metaphor of the good path and the bad path to convince people. Thus, people do not have a large range of choice: either they belong to the race of the oppressors or to the race of the defender of people.  In the second case, « justice demands that they be destroyed ». These last words of Eva Perron shocked me. I have the impression that she tries frightening people to convince them. Indeed, who wants to be destroyed by his peers?
In addition to that, I am convinced that her call for fanatism could lead to some extremist actions. In the text «a celebration of a monster », the violence of the action against an innocent man reveals the danger of such a call. Do they really think that the death of this innocent could make them win the fight? Or, is it just a violent action to take their hatred to someone?  Anyway, I think that the end do not justify the means. We cannot denying the fact that fanatism is dangerous. Today, many terrorist organizations laud the same kind of discourses and the kamikazes kill themselves and many innocents because they want to give their life for ideals. Thus, the discourse of Evita is quite controversial.
Finally, as reading these texts, I try to find a definition of people. Unlike Evita, I do not think that the people are « one single class: those who work ». I suggest that the people is a political concept build by political leaders in order to manipulate masses. I think that the people is an entity which symbolizes some ideals such as juridical and social equality between people, freedom and solidarity. Finally, the message of Evita reminds me the Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy as the « government of people, by people and for people ». Thus, the government is a representative of the people and has to fight for the people’s interests and not for their own interest.  So, does the people represent the citizenships who elect their representatives?

What is culture?

•January 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

I think the term culture is multidimensional. As Roger M. Keesing explains, the first meaning of a culture is a human construction based on the emphasis of a radical alterity. Thus, culture is regarded as an entity which acts behalf on the community it represents. This raises an important issue : Is a culture a unified entity? Does it personify a group? Does it have a self consciousness? Even if, culture seems to represent a set of values shared by a society it could also represent a collectivity. Williams explains that the term culture has two aspects. On one hand, it represents the common values of a society ; on the other hand, it is based on new experiences and observations. It is both a symbol of our traditions and in the same time, it could be renew everyday. That’s why, culture is ordinary, because it is a product of traditional elements known by all and of new elements which come from everyday life. Thus, culture is a dynamic concept. Moreover, Williams underlines that popular culture is as interesting as culture of elite. Traditional dances or dishes are a part of culture as museums and books. However, as the culture of elite is imposed as a reference, popular culture is diminished. In both article, the authors raise the issue of the imposition of the culture of elite. Elite has power, and financial resources. They use it in order to manipulate the masses. Bourdieu, in his book, The Distinction, explains that lower classes and elite do not have the same access to culture and the same capital of culture. For example, student who belong to the upper class have better successes than the others because the values they have learned are similar to the values of school. Thus, culture is a social issue. The last part of Williams’s argumentation about preservation of freedom of expression is really interesting too. Indeed, he raises current issues about preservation of their cultures and the freedom of expression.