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Canada’s Cultural Diplomacy toward Mexico during the NAFTA Era  

Graciela Martínez-Zalce

Canadian cultural diplomacy has been inconsistent in recent decades. In the specific case of Mexico, the visibility of Canada is the result of the sum of public and private initiatives within independent and commercial circuits, as well as academic collaborations. In certain periods of the last few decades of Canadian history, it is possible to recognize policies aimed at projecting a specific image of Canada, which is constantly modified by precise political and economic conditions. In the twenty-five years of the North American Free Trade Agreement, three moments of cultural diplomacy toward Mexico can be recognized: a first intense period of creation of binational ties, a time of restrictions that affected strategic collaboration programs, and a renaissance characterized by interest in rethinking and systematizing the strategies of cultural exchange.

Article

Cultural Policies of the Chávez Government  

Sujatha Fernandes

The cultural policies of the left-wing government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela in the new millennium saw a shift back to funding and patronage of the arts after years of defunding and commodification of cultural production. However, despite leading to a renaissance of cultural activity, Chavista cultural policy also retained a modernist rationality that treated cultural production as objects to be classified and quantified. Official cultural policy in Venezuela has historically developed alongside popular-cultural formations that draw on alternative conceptions of culture that stem from everyday life. The official and the everyday have developed in tandem and, sometimes, at cross-purposes. Many scholars look to policies and states as the producers of change, but it is at the level of the everyday that we can see the emerging possibilities that define cultural movements in search of social change.

Article

Food in Contemporary Cuba  

Hanna Garth

Cuban cuisine brings together the island’s histories of colonial relations with Spain and the culinary traditions of Africans, Amerindians, Chinese laborers, and those who migrated from Haiti and Jamaica. This dynamic food draws from these traditions and the island’s tropical climate to create a rich and multidimensional cuisine. Cuba’s food system is also deeply tied to Cuban national politics and international trade. Under socialism Cuba has had a fifty-year-old food-rationing system, and the majority of Cuban foods are imported. Despite these changes, Cuban household cooks work diligently to create complete meals, and they bring together the ingredients for various special occasions throughout the year.

Article

Football (Soccer) in Brazil  

Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda

Football appeared in Brazil in the end of the 19th century, among a favorable environment for the practice of English sports. These sports were initially practiced not professionally by English migrants and young students of Law, Engineering, and Medicine. Fluminense was the first club from Rio de Janeiro, at that time the capital of the country, to be dedicated exclusively to practice football. In the beginning, football represented nobility for the local elite. The social profile of people who attended matches at Fluminense’s field was very near to that of the players, be it for family reasons, friendship, or other motivations. Young women who went there desired to see their distinguished idols, and from this practice many relationships started. While this idyllic image of the past was produced, a historical point of view can notice a decisive enhancement in social segments interested in football. In the decade of 1910, a collective enthusiasm arose for football, mainly due to the fact that it was easy to practice and watch football in any kind of open space. This allowed it to spread out of clubs and the National Team. Far from the spatial and economic restriction of performance arts, football could be practiced and watched freely, in most diverse situations. The clubs’ lack of structure to allocate players and fans contributed in making football a popular game, since they needed to seek public spaces to practice. At this point, the club that opposed to Fluminense has been Flamengo, which until then was not more than a regatta club. When it opened a football department, it practiced in open fields near the beaches. Many passersby started to look out their training and matches, and some of them adopted Flamengo as their club even if not participating of its internal sphere. The players became idols, first in the neighborhood and then in the whole city. This encouraged the talk about football in bars and cafés, with reflections on the increasing number of people to attend matches. Historian Leonardo Pereira says that in a few years football has become a mania. The making of the first national team to dispute friendly matches against England and Argentina has also stimulated football’s repercussion. Noticing public interest over matches with teams from different cities or countries, sports press left its poor attitude about football and began to carefully pay attention to this kind of rivalry and the consequent emotions each fan is able to express for his team, especially the National Team.

Article

Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in 20th-Century Costa Rica  

Patricia Alvarenga

Proposals challenging male authority gained strength in Costa Rica during the 20th century and, especially at the turn of the 21st century, and questioned naturalized sexual and gender identities. The effects of these discursivities are varied. The experience of feminists, of middle-class women outside these discursivities, and of women of the subaltern classes demonstrate the plurality of meanings attributed to gender relations as filtered through subjective experience. The introduction of alternative identity proposals destabilizes the established parameters of sexual and gender identities, but, at the same time, produces new conservative discursivities that limit the potential for change. Two feminist movements, one that reached its peak in the 1920s and a second that arose in the final decades of the 20th century, brought about substantive changes in female identities, revealing the power relations that underlie the discursive representation of patriarchal power as eternal and immutable. An assessment of contemporary feminism based on the experiences of its protagonists shows the movement’s significant gains as well as the challenges and weaknesses it has faced over its history, the most important of which may be how to reach beyond the sphere of well-educated, heterosexual, middle-class women. In conclusion, public discourses that have politicized gender and sexuality in Costa Rica are creatively constituted in the social world, according to what changes appear attainable at different moments of history. Carved out by actors committed to change, these discourses have achieved substantive transformations in institutional structures and subjectivities. However, present experience shows clearly that every affirmation of identity is precarious, and that the gains achieved require the ongoing, active engagement of civil society.

Article

Mexican Comic Books and NAFTA  

Bruce Campbell

Mexican comic books are a cultural product whose development is tied to the history of the modern Mexican state. The consolidation of the state in the aftermath of the armed conflict period of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) shaped the conditions for the emergence of a domestic industry and market for comics, and in particular for comic books, alongside other important cultural industries such as radio, film, and television, through state supports for and controls over the nation’s culture industries. In the late 20th century, the neoliberal character of the Mexican state—for which official policy has centered on privatization of state economic enterprises, the reduction of public subsidies for goods and services, and the elimination of import tariffs—subsequently reshaped the conditions for production and consumption of the nation’s sequential art. The term “comics” is applied to graphic narrative generally, which in turn is defined by the sequential use of images, usually in combination with language, in order to tell some kind of story. Comics are therefore a broad category of cultural production that includes newspaper strips, comic books, graphic novels, fotonovelas (comprising photographs in series with inserted dialogue text), and, more recently, webcomics. Comics are a cultural commodity the production and distribution of which are affected by changes in public supports, as well as by governmental controls over comics content. In the period of institutional consolidation that followed the armed phased of the Mexican Revolution, government supports were provided principally through the subsidizing of newsprint and the implementation of national literacy campaigns. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—a tri-national trade liberalization regime signed by Mexico, Canada, and the United States and implemented on January 1, 1994—significantly altered the circumstances of comics in Mexico, in terms of both the economic conditions for comics production and readership, and the political environment and public discourses addressed and communicated through Mexican comics art. The most direct impact on comics production came through the Mexican state’s retreat from control of the paper supply under the terms of NAFTA. Because paper is a key productive input, changes in paper cost and availability had the largest impact on the cost of long-form or sustained graphic narratives, such as comic books. As a result, the NAFTA period (1994 to present) is marked by the emergence of the Mexican graphic novel and of webcomics. Both of these cultural forms are based on a reorganization of the economics of comic-book production. Comics production and consumption are therefore implicated in neoliberal policy constructs such as the North American Free Trade agreement, despite not being an explicit category of economic activity addressed by the treaty.

Article

Mexican Women Writers, 1960 to the Present  

Sarah Anderson

Since the early 1960s, Mexican women writers have relentlessly fought to become recognized within a traditionally male-dominated literary canon. In the 20th century, women’s writing began to flourish, in many cases emerging as a counternarrative to the patriarchal discourse that had dominated the literary scene for decades after the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). The work of women writers can be examined according to three different phases: from 1960 to the 1970s, 1980 to the 1990s, and 2000 to the present, and by highlighting in particular a group of women writers from the northern border region, who have faced additional obstacles in their path to becoming published writers. All in all, each of the writers discussed here contributes to a snapshot of the literature written by women from the 1960s to today. The chronological trajectory of their literary voices underscores Mexico’s rich cultural and historical past through the eyes and voices of those traditionally silenced and marginalized in the patriarchal and hierarchical spaces of power.

Article

Popular Music since 1945 and the Growth of the Brazilian Culture Industries since 1945  

K. E. Goldschmitt and Eduardo Vicente

The period following the end of Getúlio Vargas’s second government (1951–1954) saw a massive expansion of the media industries, with popular music in particular becoming an important cultural touchstone. A major feature of the postwar period was the politicization of music and other media such as radio, television, and social media. Other salient trends include the incorporation of international musical influences (especially jazz, rock, and countercultural postures) into Brazilian musical production starting in the late-1950s, and the rise and prominence of regional genres in the national discourse. Along with the fluctuations in the national economy, the recording industry expanded and contracted. Brazilian media industry infrastructures have taken part in artistic expression, including both major multinational record labels as well as independent record companies. Popular music production has regularly responded to the social and economic upheavals that have characterized Brazil since the end of World War II, including the military dictatorship (1964–1985). While much of the international reputation of Brazilian music in this period relies on the popularity of bossa nova, the history of the country’s media industries shows how other genres such as música popular brasileira, rock, brega, and sertanejo adapted to public tastes. Even during the height of the military regime’s repression, the efforts of record companies and recording artists saw the expansion of Brazilian popular music into still more diverse sounds, a trend that continued through the first decades of the 21st century. Interdisciplinary perspectives, including communication studies, history, anthropology, and ethnomusicology, show some possible new routes for music and cultural industry research in Brazil.

Article

Samba Schools  

Carlos Sandroni and Felipe Barros

Samba schools are musical and recreational associations linked to carnival, created in Rio de Janeiro between 1928 and 1932 approximately. The first competitive samba school parade was held during the 1932 carnival, and since then they have held annually, always during carnival. Samba schools were also created in São Paulo later in the 1930s and gradually spread throughout Brazil, expanding internationally from the 1970s onwards. Since the end of the 1950s, the samba school parade has been recognized as the principal event in the Rio de Janeiro carnival. It is characterized as a performance involving music, dance, costume, and artwork. In the 1930s, each school sang up to three different sambas: the rule of just a single samba per parade was established later. Instrumental accompaniment is produced by the bateria, a set of membranophones and idiophones, which is perhaps the most the most characteristic element of a samba school. In addition, a small group of guitars and cavaquinho (a type of ukulele) provide the harmonic base for the singing. A group of judges mark the competition: points are organized by theme, music, dance, and outstanding features. The parade has gone through numerous transformations over the years. One such was the growing importance of the enredo, the central theme or story guiding the parade as a whole. In the 1950s, the composition of the sambas for the parade came to be driven by the need to present each aspect of the enredo in the music and lyrics, which led to the creation of a new type of samba, the samba-enredo. At time, the sambas performed in the parades were not very different from the sambas released on records and sung in different contexts in festivities. In the 1960s, the coordination of all aspects of the parade, with the aim of showing the enredo in the best manner possible, led to the emergence of a new role, the carnavalesco, who is charged with choosing the theme and designing and planning everything related to the parade’s visual and scenic dimensions. Increasing public interest in the samba schools was accompanied by the growth of the parade itself, implying ever greater costs, connections, and conflicts with the public authorities and with different private economic agents, including in some cases illegal economic activities, such as gambling. The importance of the parade of the samba schools for the city of Rio de Janeiro was expressed in the construction in 1983–1984 of a new and immense urban structure, known as the Sambódromo. Designed to shelter the parades without disturbing urban circulation, as had happened until then in the mounting and dismantling of stands, the Sambódromo is used throughout the year. Its open spaces host various festive events in the city, while the closed ones are used for activities linked to public education.

Article

Women Filmmakers in Argentina  

Ana Forcinito

This article offers an overview of some of the most important Argentine women filmmakers along with some tendencies that could serve to organize four decades of films, shorts, and documentaries. The article also examines some of the main paths that women filmmakers have taken in their revision and transformation of the relationship between the visual/aural dimension of cinematographic language and the patriarchal regime of the image and the voice. The films discussed in this chapter challenge the still-dominant masculine visual regime through aesthetic projects that reveal the worlds made invisible and erased by marginalization, authoritarianism, violence, sexism, homophobia, abjection, racism, inequality, discrimination, and impunity. Feminism is undoubtedly a vital framework for analyzing the history of women filmmakers in ArgentiIt appears sometimes at the center of the audiovisual project and, other times, outside the frame. This article explores the intersections among different aesthetic concerns, and in particular attempts to show that the discussion of women filmmakers in Argentina should not be limited to only two or three names but should include a vast number of women filmmakers and their innovative visions. From the first decades of the Twentieth century to the present, Argentine women filmmakers have taken different paths in their revision and transformation of the relation between the visual/aural dimension of cinematographic language and the patriarchal regime of the image and the voice. The feminist dimension of some of their films has challenged masculine and heteronormative norms through aesthetic projects that revealed what remained invisible and erased by authoritarianism, violence, sexism, homophobia, abjection, racism, inequality, discrimination, and impunity. Feminism—expressed in different waves of the feminist movement and with different degrees of intersectionality— is undoubtedly a vital framework for analyzing the history of women filmmakers in Argentina. It has framed the aesthetic concerns and the innovative visions women filmmakers have been proposing about the domestic, the intimate, and the political.