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Agustín Lorenzo: Beloved Bandit of History and Folklore  

Liliana Toledo Guzmán

Agustín Lorenzo was a prototypical social bandit, according to Eric Hobsbawm’s definition in his studies of that phenomenon. As a bandit from south central Mexico believed to have lived between the 18th and 19th centuries, the exploits of Agustín Lorenzo have been recounted in myriad ways: myths, legends, loas, corridos, films, carnival representations, among others. Lorenzo is said to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor, swearing to avenge his grandfather’s mistreatment at the hands of his employer, the local landowner. To achieve his mission, the story goes, Lorenzo made a pact with the devil, to obtain supernatural powers. The attributes of this bandit undoubtedly place him in the same category as the great body of stories about banditry that have survived for centuries around the world, particularly considering their shared essence: a desire for justice. In the case of Agustín Lorenzo, it is possible to disentangle the universal principles Hobsbawm established regarding the phenomenon of social banditry from the local context in which this particular myth lives on. Hence, to analyze the myth of Agustín Lorenzo, it is essential to explore the narratives and meanings of the cosmogony of the Nahua peoples of south-central Mexico.

Article

Alcohol in the Atlantic  

David Carey Jr.

Dating from the earliest times in Latin America, alcohol has played a crucial social, economic, political, and cultural role. Often reserved for politico-religious leaders, alcohol was a conduit through which power flowed in many pre-contact indigenous societies; indigenous drinkways (production, commerce, and consumption habits) were associated with communal ritual events and social prestige. Introduced to the Americas by Europeans, distillation profoundly altered the potency of alcoholic drinks for people who were accustomed to fermentation. Even as the social and cultural practices of alcohol consumption changed over time, alcohol continued to have political and economic implications in the colonial and national periods in Latin America. Fearing that inebriation bred disorder and recognizing that moonshining undercut their own revenues, colonial and national governments alike sought to regulate, if not control, the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. In nations as diverse as Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, and Guatemala, indigenous women came to play integral roles in the (oftentimes illicit) sale and production of alcohol. A cash nexus for moving labor and land and a crucial component of the economic system by which (often unscrupulous) labor brokers recruited workers, alcohol was a currency of local economies. As a commodity of local, national, and international significance, alcohol shaped the fate of nation-states. People’s class, ethnic, race, and gender identities all played into their access to alcohol. Although a person’s choice of libation could define their position, some of the more fascinating histories of alcohol are punctuated with women and men who used alcohol to disrupt social conventions. Through the consumption of alcohol, rituals and ceremonies created and reconstituted community both within and across ethnic groups. Imbibing could also divide people. Even while they sipped their cognacs and brandies, elites portrayed indigenous people, the poor, and other marginalized people getting drunk on moonshine to discount and denigrate them. Often associated with (particularly violent) crime, alcohol was seen as a vice by many and excoriated during temperance movements. Yet defendants across Latin America took advantage of judicial systems that considered alcohol a mitigating circumstance in many crimes. As 20th-century evangelical sects that preached abstinence as the route to wealth and marital bliss grew to unprecedented numbers, traditional healers and biomedical practitioners continued to tout alcohol’s medicinal value. In short, alcohol was a marker of social position and cultural identity, a crucial component in community and state building, and a commodity around which different cultural traditions, healing practices, and policing policies developed and evolved.

Article

Anticommunism in 20th-Century Chile: From the “Social Question” to the Military Dictatorship  

Marcelo Casals

Anticommunism was a central force in the history of the Chilean political conflict in the 20th century. Not only did several political actors define their identities and actions by their opposition to Marxist-inspired revolutionary projects, but also the state in different moments excluded and persecuted everything identified as “communist.” To a great extent, anticommunism relied on three main “frameworks”: Catholicism, nationalism, and liberalism, all of which were crucial elements in the construction of the Republic since the 19th century. Different combinations and interpretations within each framework resulted in different anticommunist expressions, from pro-fascist movements and nationalist groups to the conservative-liberal right wing, the Social Christian center and even moderate socialists. Many of them, especially in the second half of the 20th century, understood anticommunism as a defense of different variations of capitalism. Of course, anticommunism was not a uniquely Chilean phenomenon. It was, in fact, an ideological trend worldwide. This conditioned the reception in Chile of global events and ideas, while it enabled the construction of transnational networks among related actors. The enactment of the Law of Permanent Defense of Democracy in 1948, which outlawed the Communist Party, symbolized the alignment of Chilean politics to Cold War bipolarity. However, the Marxist left was able to recover during the “long Sixties,” in a political and cultural environment marked by the Cuban Revolution. The Popular Unity government was the materialization of all anticommunist fears. The counter-revolutionary bloc created then paved the way to the 1973 coup and the subsequent military dictatorship, which used anticommunism as state ideology. Human rights violations were legitimated by the dictatorship from that ideological framework. Anticommunism decayed by the late 1980s alongside socialist experiences around the world.

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The Creole Circus and Popular Entertainment in 19th Century Argentina and Uruguay  

William G. Acree Jr.

Theater in Argentina and Uruguay, which together compose the Plata river region of Latin America, has been a predominant form of entertainment since the 19th century. Theaters abound in Montevideo, while its sister city. Buenos Aires, has its own Broadway in the famed Corrientes Street. In the age of digital culture, the theater remains a mainstay of cultural life for Argentines and Uruguayans. The success of theater and the making of a theatergoing public in the region have their roots first in the variety of entertainment offered by hemispheric travelers to the region from the 1820s through the 1880s and then, most significantly, in shows put on by itinerant circus troupes in the countryside that only later filled urban theaters. From the mid-1880s through 1900 these circus troupes performed plays known as dramas criollos that dealt with rural traditions and explored issues of migration, social stratification, and tensions of economic modernization. These Creole dramas, like the narrative and poetic tales of gaucho heroes that informed them, became wildly successful, attracting spectators in the countryside and city alike, in venues ranging from makeshift tents to the most opulent theaters. They also became the namesake of the circo criollo, which referred as much to types of performers staging the tales as to the circus event where people flocked to see the new main attraction—the dramas. In effect, the Creole drama phenomenon expanded the presence of popular entertainment across the region and consolidated a theatergoing public. It also gave way to a new strand of modern popular culture in which storylines and characters reappeared in other media, and the impact of the Creole drama experience long outlived the spectacle itself.

Article

Digital Resources: En el Ojo del Huracán, Private Letters from the Caribbean to Spain  

Werner Stangl

The early 19th century was a period of intense turmoil and chaos in the Spanish-speaking world: The Napoleonic Wars and French occupation of the Peninsula in the 1800s, independence movements in the Americas, the liberal constitution of Cádiz, Napoleon’s defeat, and the reinstallation of the Bourbons in the 1810s, and finally, the second constitutional period, the iron fist of restoration, and the eventual loss of most American possessions between 1821 and 1825. The least affected areas in the midst of this turmoil were the loyalist islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, metaphorically the “eye of the hurricane.” It is within this context that a corpus of some dozen letters, preserved in the Spanish National Archive, were written. They were produced in the circum-Caribbean region—most in Puerto Rico—and addressed mainly to relatives and business partners on the other side of the Atlantic. The letters in question were archived without accompanying documentation, probably seized by authorities loyal to the restoration of the Ancien Régime. As a central element, this digital resource—“En el Ojo del Huracán”—displays these primary sources in an online presentation. Beyond the historiographic value of the sources, the project explores the differences between traditional and digital edition standards (TEI) for digital letter editions with the aim of showcasing the benefits of implementing the digital paradigm and for different visualizations, functionalities, analysis and incorporation in larger infrastructures.

Article

Digital Resources: Housing and Urban Development in Latin American History  

David Yee

Beginning in the 1880s, the modern foundations for architecture as a profession and academic discipline were established in Latin America’s major cities. Soon thereafter, urban planning (urbanismo) began to emerge as a distinct discipline in a period of scientific and technological innovation. This rich history has been compiled, digitized, and made available to the public by two key institutions: the Facultad de Arquitectura of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (FA-UNAM) in Mexico and the Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo of the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina (FADU). Collectively, these two digital projects contain a wealth of information for scholars to research the cultural and intellectual histories of cities in both Argentina and Mexico. The primary resources available on both platforms provide valuable insights into how Latin America’s leading architects and planners analyzed, debated, and envisioned urban life in the 20th century.

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Digital Resources: The Sandino Rebellion Digital Historical Archive, Nicaragua, 1927–1934  

Michael J. Schroeder

From May 1927 to December 1932, the Nicaraguan nationalist Augusto C. Sandino waged guerrilla war against the U.S. Marines and Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua to expel the “Yankee invaders” and achieve genuine national sovereignty. The war was centered in Las Segovias, the mountainous, sparsely populated northcentral region of Nicaragua bordering Honduras. The website is envisioned as a comprehensive, interpretive, open-access digital archive on this much-discussed but still dimly understood “small war” of the interwar years. Rigorous accuracy, judicious interpretation, and the democratization of knowledge rank among the website’s most important guiding principles. Before mid-1927 there is very little documentation on Las Segovias. Then, starting with the June 1927 Marine invasion and occupation, our documentary base explodes. For nearly six years, the US imperial spotlight—expressed in a dazzling variety of texts—illuminated the hidden corners of a society and history hitherto almost totally obscured. Alongside this explosion of imperial texts was the proliferation of texts and artifacts created by the Sandinista rebels. In January 1933 the spotlight vanished, and a month later Sandino's rebellion ended in a provisional peace treaty with the newly elected Sacasa government. The Marines went home, carting hundreds of boxes of records with them. What the U.S. imperial gaze spotlighted for those six or so years constitutes the bulk of this website’s focus. Smaller in scale but often punchier in impact are the textual fragments and social memories produced in Las Segovias that survived the brutal repression that followed Sandino’s assassination in 1934. Inspired by social and cultural history “from the bottom up,” this project conceives of the Sandino revolt as a social and cultural process, as a local response to foreign invasion and occupation. The documents presented here reflect this focus, selected because they speak in some fashion to the agency of Nicaraguans and Segovianos in shaping their own history—including campesinos and Indians, tenants and sharecroppers, smallholders and squatters, miners and migrant workers, seasonal and day laborers, as well as townsfolk and artisans, smugglers and bootleggers, peddlers and traders, boat-drivers and mule-drivers, ranchers and coffee growers, merchants and professionals, politicians and military leaders—individuals, families, and communities caught up in a whirlwind of foreign invasion and insurgency as complex and multifaceted as any in history. What manner of revolutionary movement was this? What were its origins, characteristics, and legacies? All the documents presented here speak to these broader questions and themes. A work in progress, the website currently houses nearly 5,000 primary documents from U.S., Nicaraguan, and other archives, including patrol and combat reports, intelligence reports, photographs, letters, diaries, maps, oral histories, propaganda fliers, and more. Comprised of 20 expansive, interlinked digital file cabinets organized by archival repository and theme, this noncommercial, easy-to-navigate website contains a goldmine of readily accessible information for students, teachers, and scholars on the period of the Sandino rebellion.

Article

Documentary Photography and Protest under Chile’s Dictatorship  

Ángeles Donoso Macaya

An array of documentary photographic practices that emerged during the dictatorship in Chile (1973–1990) remain understudied, despite their political, aesthetical, and historical import. From the mid-1970s onward, these different practices served different purposes: some made visible the crime of disappearance and its disavowal by the repressive state; others stood as supplementary evidence that confirmed the legal existence of the detained-disappeared; some were a crucial force in denouncing state repression and demanding justice for victims; and some made it possible for independent media to simultaneously comply with and ridicule the censorship of images imposed by the dictatorship in 1984. These practices also helped to consolidate the expanding photographic field under dictatorship. They include the public display of ID photos and portraits torn from family albums; documentary images that relatives of the victims of repression pinned to their chests; the reproduction, compilation, and incorporation of these portraits into legal files and habeas corpus claims; the publication of countless photos of popular protests in independent media; and different photographic initiatives put forward by a group of photographers who established the Independent Photographers Association in 1981. Notably, the expanding photographic field under dictatorship engaged not only individuals and groups directly involved with photography but also ad-hoc human rights collectives and organizations (especially the Group of Family Members of the Detained-Disappeared and the Vicariate of Solidarity), as well as lawyers, judges, journalists, and everyday users of photography. Given the different arenas in which documentary images circulated, the transformations they underwent to resist repression and censorship, and the array of individuals involved in their (re)production and dissemination, a study of documentary photography under dictatorship in Chile cannot content itself, as has been the case, with surveying the practices that emerged within the artistic field. A study of the visual culture under dictatorship instead reveals both the different uses of photography in the public space and the transformations of documentary images in their successive circulations and disseminations.

Article

Henrietta Yurchenco: Ethnomusicology Pioneer in Mexico and Guatemala  

Yael Bitrán Goren

Henrietta Yurchenco, née Weiss, was a pioneer of ethnomusicology research. Her expeditions in various regions of Mexico and Guatemala between 1942 and 1946 allowed for the gathering of musical recordings from the Zoque, Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Chiapaneco, Tojolobal, Cora, Huichol, and Seri peoples of Mexico, and from the Quiché, Kekchí, Ixil, and Zutujil peoples of Guatemala. A portion of these expeditions were carried out thanks to an agreement signed between the Instituto Indigenista Interamericano (III; Inter-American Indigenist Institute) and the Mexican Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP; Public Education Ministry/Department) and the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington. The recordings produced by these expeditions were made direct-to-disc and are preserved at the Fonoteca Nacional de México (Mexican National Music Library/Collection), where they have been completely digitalized. They were also recognized with the Memory of the World distinction by UNESCO in 2015. One-hundred thirty two (132) discs are preserved with hundreds of pieces from these cultures, of enormous value to Mexican cultural heritage. In her memoirs, published in two versions (Spanish and English), Yurchenco offers a fascinating account of her travels in Mexico and Guatemala. Additionally, she explores specific aspects of the aforementioned research in specialized journal articles and book chapters. Yurchenco was particularly interested in discovering traits from pre-Hispanic music. This goal drove her to explore remote regions of Mexico. Her work in its vast majority—both her writings and recordings on Latin America as well as on the rest of the world—still has yet to be studied.

Article

History of the Torre Latinoamericana  

Sarah Beckhart

Historians have extensively explored the topic of architecture in Mexico City in the 20th century. From the relationships between politics, public patrons, new construction technologies, and new idioms of modernism, the impressive story of architecture in this megalopolis continues to astound and captivate people’s imaginations. Architecture was a channel that politicians used to address housing, education, and health care needs in a rapidly growing city. Yet scholars have not been especially concerned with private construction projects and their influence on the process of shaping and being shaped by the visual representation of Mexico City. Private building projects reveal an alternative reality of the city—one not envisioned by politicians and public institutions. Private construction projects in the historic city center are particularly interesting due to their location. These buildings are built on ancient clay lakebeds and volcanic soil on which the Aztecs first built the city. Not only are these buildings located in the heart of the city, the buildings in the rest of the historic district are also sinking. Any building in a historic district that has withstood the test of time should be an object of interest to scholars. The Torre Latinoamericana is perhaps the only building in the historic district and the entire city that ceases to sink, and instead floats! Located on the corner of Madero and San Juan de Letrán, the building sits at the heart of history, culture, and ancient Aztec clay lakebeds. The Torre Latinoamericana was built between 1948 and 1956 and is one of the most important visual symbols of resilience and modernity in Mexico City today.

Article

The History of Emotions in Colonial Latin America  

Jacqueline Holler

The history of emotion is one of the strongest currents in contemporary historiography. Historians and the public have always considered emotion important, but it has become a topic in itself only in recent decades. The history of emotion now has its own lexicon and key concepts, including emotionology (emotional standards of a community) and emotional communities (the multiple and shifting communities, each with its own standards and practices, within a society). The historiography of emotion in colonial Latin America can trace its origins to colonial works that framed Iberians as emotionally pathological. While this derogatory stereotype is clearly invalid, the notion of a distinct colonial emotional regime is worth investigating. Distinct indigenous emotional standards and understandings, the emotional performances and practices associated with colonial domination, and the relationship between emotion and honor may all be key features of a uniquely Latin American, and uniquely colonial, emotional regime. Similarly, the manifestations of more recognizably “interpersonal” emotion had a distinctively Latin American character. To a great degree, the Catholic Church exercised hegemony over the definition and regulation of emotion, though medical and humoral understandings of emotion were common both to colonial clerics and to the laity; at the same time, however, the emotions associated with sexuality—love, desire, jealousy, and hatred—are testament to the limits of the Church’s control. Moreover, 18th-century cultural and social changes further altered the balance of the colonial emotional regime; reformers criticized what they viewed as the extreme, inauthentic, or violent emotions of the Latin American population, while the authority of psychological and medical explanations of emotion grew, producing “hybridized” understandings.

Article

Hollywood and Disney in Mid-20th-Century Inter-American Relations  

Fernando Purcell and Camila Gatica

Hollywood, and Disney in particular, played a key role in inter-American relations during the mid-20th century. Hollywood cinema became an important weapon of cultural diplomacy in the context of the Good Neighbor Policy and later during World War II, and it aligned itself with the main diplomatic guidelines issued by Washington. Cinema was widely disseminated throughout Latin America, which helped to consolidate the US message in the region. Thus the close ties between the Hollywood film industry and the State Department is made clear, which became particularly close with regard to Latin America thanks to the creation of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs during the conflict. In this context, the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs played a key role in creating a two-way street between Latin American culture and US audiences, as well as presenting the United States as an ally to trust.

Article

Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura  

Liliana Toledo Guzmán

The Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA; National Institute of Fine Arts) was created to replace and broaden the functions of the Departamento de Bellas Artes (DBA; Department of Fine Arts), which was created in 1921 as a branch of the Ministry of Public Education in the context of a Mexico already in upheaval due to the revolutionary armed conflict. The decades leading up to the creation of the INBA were characterized by a constant discussion of how nationalism should be expressed in art. The answer was often associated with rural life and its artistic manifestations; thus research on these expressions became the center not only of the discourse, but of many artistic projects launched by the Mexican government. These expressions were brought to many arenas in public education, from creation to distribution, so that over the course of three decades they were articulated in an organized fashion as much in the rural education project of Jose Vasconcelos as in that of Moisés Sáez, and later, in the socialist education framework of Lázaro Cárdenas. In the 1940s, the INBA inherited not only the art collections of the DBA but also its role. The promotion of nationalist art would take on new proportions, intending to reach the entire territory. The cultural bureaucracy began to gain strength with figures such as Carlos Chávez, the first director of the INBA. Nevertheless, Mexico was a different country than it had been in the 1920s. During the government of Miguel Alemán, art was strongly associated with tourism and economic dependence on the United States worsened, to some degree affecting artistic expression. Integrationist education, the creation of the Mexican collective imagination in the 1920s, and contradictions clearly seen through social inequality compared to the mythical indigenous world—all these were factors that led to an aesthetic rupture that would seem imminent, just as development, education, and research hoped to become institutionalized through the INBA.

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José Guadalupe Posada and Visual Culture in Porfirian Mexico  

Robert M. Buffington and Jesus Osciel Salazar

José Guadalupe Posada (b. Aguascalientes, February 2, 1852; d. Mexico City, January 20, 1913) was a prolific printmaker of exceptional technique, range, and originality. By the time of his death, his images had become a staple of Mexico City popular culture, appearing regularly in theatrical posters, advertisements, book illustrations, broadsides, and the penny press. Despite his popularity with impresarios, advertisers, publishers, editors, and readers, Posada received scant formal recognition during his lifetime. That changed in the 1920s with his “discovery” by prominent artists and art critics including internationally renowned muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. By the 1940s, exhibitions of his work had begun to appear in major galleries and museums in the United States and Europe, promoted as evidence of a unique visual aesthetic rooted in traditional Mexican culture and committed to exposing the long-standing oppression of the Mexican people at the hands of corrupt politicians, greedy bourgeoisie, cruel caciques (local party bosses), and foreign interlopers. Although scholars have disputed the genealogy and political nature of Posada’s vision, the revolutionary nationalist interpretation of Rivera, Orozco, and others has provided inspiration and a sense of cultural legitimacy for succeeding generations of artists in Mexico and throughout the Mexican diaspora. Posada is best known for his striking calaveras, notably Calavera Catrina, a fashionable female skull with bows and a fancy hat; and La Calavera Oaxaqueña, a machete-wielding male skeleton dressed in a charro outfit. Published in conjunction with the annual celebrations for Day of the Dead (October 31–November 2) and accompanied by satiric verses, Posada’s calaveras poke fun at the pretentions of the living in the face of their inevitable mortality.

Article

Nelson Rockefeller in Latin America  

Darlene Rivas

Nelson Rockefeller (1908–1979), known for his political career in the United States, built his public reputation upon experiences in Latin America and impacted US relations with the region. His initial interest grew through art collecting and business investments in the 1930s. He developed a conviction that US policy should foster collaborative efforts to promote economic development, in large measure to combat economic nationalism but also for humanitarian purposes and to encourage democracy. During World War II, he led the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), which combated Axis influence, developed cultural and propaganda programs, and launched the first long-term US foreign aid programs of technical assistance through the Institute of Inter-American Affairs. As assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs (1944–1945), he cultivated Latin American aspirations to maintain US interest in the region characterized by the Good Neighbor Policy, through renewed commitment to collaboration and nonintervention, continued US support for economic and social development, and protection of regional organization within the larger United Nations. After the war, Rockefeller promoted a reformed capitalism he envisioned would involve collaboration among government and private groups in the United States and Latin America. Starting in Venezuela and Brazil, he created a nonprofit entity, the American International Association for Economic and Social Development (AIA), that partnered with Latin American governments, especially in public health and agriculture, and a for-profit business, the International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC), which fostered joint investments. In 1950, he headed the International Development Advisory Board to advise the Truman administration on the Point Four program, established to foster US technical assistance toward developing nations. Rockefeller advocated for continued focus on economic development abroad, even as the Korean War intensified the defensive nature and military requirements of US Cold War policy. He promoted partnerships with private capital investment and increased public loans that prioritized developing nations’ concerns. The scope he suggested was not adopted in the region, but models for technical assistance he had pioneered in Latin America spread globally. He leveraged his experiences in the region to promote a political career, serving as governor of New York (1959–1973) and vice president of the United States (1974–1977), and he attempted to win the presidency several times. In 1969, he led a series of Latin American tours for President Richard Nixon that were met with violence and harsh criticism of the United States. His economic prescriptions changed little, yet alarm over potential radical change led Rockefeller controversially to suggest friendly relations with authoritarian military governments. His impact on US Latin American policy waxed and waned, yet Rockefeller’s endeavors expanded cultural relations, increased collaboration, prioritized economic development, and valued pre-Columbian and Latin American artistic expression.

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Orquestas Infantiles and Children’s Musical Education in Argentina  

Federico Luis Escribal

Arts education tends to be understood exclusively from its insertion into the formal education system, although its impact on educational trajectories is not only represented in the development of specific knowledge in the field but can also contribute with didactic volume to other disciplinary fields—as already recognized by UNESCO in the First World Conference on Arts Education in 2006—as well as opening new horizons in vocational terms. In Latin America, the development of musical training policies through children’s orchestras has become a trend at the beginning of the 21st century, unfolding in particular ways in the different countries of the region, mainly based on the so-called Venezuelan model. Based on the search for excellence and prioritizing classical European instruments and repertoires, El Sistema has generated the irruption of outstanding figures in the mainstream musical field. In Argentina, different public policies have been implemented since the late 20th century tending toward the development of children’s orchestras. Although there were government programs based on the Venezuelan system, there was also an alternative model: the Andrés Chazarreta social program based its actions on the use of American instruments and repertoires, and on collective training as a didactic strategy, opposed to the marked individualism that classical musical training promotes. In the 1970s, the choral movement in Argentina gave birth to outstanding cultural and artistic experiences. Nowadays, participation in this type of initiative stimulates the transformation of imaginaries about what young people can do with their futures, not only professionally, beyond musical vocations.

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Palm Oil and Afro-Brazilian Cultures  

Case Watkins

Palm oil is fundamental in Afro-Brazilian cultures, economies, and ecologies. Perhaps no other single material is as essential to Afro-Brazilian identities and cosmologies as is palm oil. Known in Brazil as dendê, or more precisely, azeite de dendê, palm oil exemplifies the intricate relations linking cultures and environments in the African diaspora. During colonial overseas expansion, the African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) crossed the Atlantic to become a transformative but underappreciated African contribution to cultures and ecologies in the Americas. In Brazil, the palm interspersed within mangrove ecosystems, secondary forests, shifting agriculture, and diversified agroforests on the coasts of Bahia, creating complex landscapes and economies that supplied palm oil for a variety of Afro-Brazilian cultural expressions. In complement to those landscapes of domestically produced dendê, by the 18th century, transatlantic commercial networks had begun importing palm oil in bulk from West and Central Africa to Bahia. Along with a range of other ancestral goods, including colorful West African textiles and stimulating kola nuts, African palm oil served as an essential base material in growing Afro-Brazilian foodways, aesthetics, and religions. When these trades fell into decline in the late 19th century, demand for locally produced palm oil spiked, and Bahia’s domestic economy consolidated regional dendê cultures, ecologies, and markets. In the 21st century, palm oil remains integral in Afro-Brazilian identities and cultures, and complex traditional landscapes continue to supply local and national markets. Enduring as a living monument to resistance in the African diaspora, dendê provides livelihoods for rural communities, the unmistakeable flavor of Afro-Brazilian foodways, and a sacred symbol and ritual element in Afro-Brazilian religions.

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Political Parties and Intellectual Debates in Brazil from the Empire to the Republic  

Angela Alonso

The Second Reign (1840–1889), the monarchic times under the rule of D. Pedro II, had two political parties. The Conservative Party was the cornerstone of the regime, defending political and social institutions, including slavery. The Liberal Party, the weaker player, adopted a reformist agenda, placing slavery in debate in 1864. Although the Liberal Party had the majority in the House, the Conservative Party achieved the government, in 1868, and dropped the slavery discussion apart from the parliamentary agenda. The Liberals protested in the public space against the coup d’état, and one of its factions joined political outsiders, which gave birth to a Republic Party in 1870. In 1871, the Conservative Party also split, when its moderate faction passed a Free Womb bill. In the 1880s, the Liberal and Conservative Parties attacked each other and fought their inner battles, mostly around the abolition of slavery. Meanwhile, the Republican Party grew, gathering the new generation of modernizing social groups without voices in the political institutions. This politically marginalized young men joined the public debate in the 1870s organizing a reformist movement. They fought the core of Empire tradition (a set of legitimizing ideas and political institutions) by appropriating two main foreign intellectual schemes. One was the French “scientific politics,” which helped them to built a diagnosis of Brazil as a “backward country in the March of Civilization,” a sentence repeated in many books and articles. The other was the Portuguese thesis of colonial decadence that helped the reformist movement to announce a coming crisis of the Brazilian colonial legacy—slavery, monarchy, latifundia. Reformism contested the status quo institutions, values, and practices, while conceiving a civilized future for the nation as based on secularization, free labor, and inclusive political institutions. However, it avoided theories of revolution. It was a modernizing, albeit not a democrat, movement. Reformism was an umbrella movement, under which two other movements, the Abolitionist and the Republican ones, lived mostly together. The unity split just after the shared issue of the abolition of slavery became law in 1888, following two decades of public mobilization. Then, most of the reformists joined the Republican Party. In 1888 and 1889, street mobilization was intense and the political system failed to respond. Monarchy neither solved the political representation claims, nor attended to the claims for modernization. Unsatisfied with abolition format, most of the abolitionists (the law excluded rights for former slaves) and pro-slavery politicians (there was no compensation) joined the Republican Party. Even politicians loyal to the monarchy divided around the dynastic succession. Hence, the civil–military coup that put an end to the Empire on November 15, 1889, did not come as a surprise. The Republican Party and most of the reformist movement members joined the army, and many of the Empire politician leaders endorsed the Republic without resistance. A new political–intellectual alignment then emerged. While the republicans preserved the frame “Empire = decadence/Republic = progress,” monarchists inverted it, presenting the Empire as an era of civilization and the Republic as the rule of barbarians. Monarchists lost the political battle; nevertheless, they won the symbolic war, their narrative dominated the historiography for decades, and it is still the most common view shared among Brazilians.

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Rock Nacional in Argentina during the Dictatorship  

Timothy Wilson and Mara Favoretto

In the 20th century Argentina experienced a series of dictatorial regimes of varying intensity, but the last dictatorship stands apart. The Process of National Reorganization or Proceso (1976–1983) was not only the most brutally repressive, “disappearing” 30,000 of its own citizens into concentration camps, but also the most ambitious in terms of ideological mission. Its campaign, officially called “the war against subversion,” was committed to the total eradication of leftist ideas from the political landscape of the country by any means necessary. This radical transformation was to be brought about not only in the torture chamber, but in the media as well. The regime planned an Orwellian redefinition of words: the systematic creation of a national vocabulary that would exclude certain ideas and parties. In order to achieve its overt project of the appropriation of language, the junta maintained obsessive control over the media, instituted strict censorship reinforced by terror, and bombarded the airwaves and newspapers with official communiqués. In the face of this repression, most journalists and writers and many artists could not express dissent of any kind. Yet singers of a new Argentine music genre that came to be known as rock nacional developed codified and oblique metaphorical expression in their lyrics that allowed them to evade censorship and to continue to criticize the military regime with relative impunity. Moreover, many Argentine youths found solace in the music and used it to create communities in which they could meet and express themselves. The regime had sought to deny young Argentines a forum for public speech; however, together artists and listeners created a rock nacional culture that provided community for the isolated and lent a voice to the silenced.

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Telenovelas and Modernity in Brazil  

Mônica Almeida Kornis

The popularity of telenovelas in Brazil begins in the 1960s. On air for many decades, they still have an audience, despite competition from cable networks, the internet, and streaming productions. Though not exclusive, Rede Globo’s presence in this genre, which also includes series and miniseries, constitutes a pedagogical exercise on Brazilian nationality, through language, the identification of the diversity of its regions, and cultural and historical references, in narratives essentially defined within a melodramatic and realist fictional framework. In the last three decades, despite Rede Globo's leadership in the realm of fictional production from the seventies, the competition increased with other free-to-air networks, first with Rede Manchete on nineties, and more recently with Bandeirantes, Record and SBT, when biblical novels, Latin American telenovelas and epic dramas were aired with great success. During those years, Rede Globo tried to overcome the competition introducing new themes and different treatments, not only on telenovelas but also on series and miniseries.