Popular Culture in Latin America

There is no doubt that popular culture has played a crucial role in shaping Latin American societies. This course aims precisely to explore various manifestations of popular culture that contributed to build national identities in contemporary Latin America: cinema, soap operas/telenovelas, best sellers and comic books, visual arts and graffiti, the radio, theatre/performance arts, social media, sports, fashion, religion, and social movements. The objective is not only to better understand these sociocultural practices, but also to reflect on their connections with fundamental concepts, such as race/ethnicity, gender, cultural politics, hybridity/transculturation, and globalization. Therefore, we will combine primary readings with critical and theoretical texts on the relevance and challenges of popular culture, problematizing the conventional dichotomy between “low (or mass) culture” and “high culture.”

Selected case studies:
Fashion icons, such as Frida Kahlo and Carmen Miranda
Football and the FIFA World Cup
Graffiti in Medellín (and other cities) and muralism
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Mafalda by Joaquín Salvador Lavado (Quino)
MINKA (Indianista-Katarista) indigenous movement and current protests, such as in Venezuela
#Ni Una Menos (in Argentina, Chile, Peru, etc.)
Performance art by Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Jesusa Rodríguez
Radio Venceremos
Salsa, nueva trova, and reguetón
Santería and candomblé
Strawberry and Chocolate
by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
The Rich Also Cry by José Alberto Castro and Yo soy Betty, la fea by Fernando Gaitán/Ugly Betty by Silvio Horta

Required theoretical/critical texts (available on Canvas):
Beezley, William H. and Linda A. Curcio-Nagy, eds. Latin American Popular Culture: An Introduction
Bueno, Eva P. and Terry Caesar, eds. Imagination Beyond Nation: Latin American Popular Culture
Franco, Jean. “What’s in a Name? Popular Culture Theories and Their Limitations.” Critical Passions: Selected Essays (eds. Mary Louise Pratt and Kathleen M. Newman)
Kantaris, Geoffrey and Rory O’Bryen, eds. Latin American Popular Culture: Politics, Media, Affect
Rowe, William and Vivian Schelling. Memory and Modernity: Popular Culture in Latin America
Strinati, Dominic. An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture

Language of instruction: English

Course Registration