Monday, January 26, 2009

The Faces of popular culture

When I entered this class I sported a very limited amount of knowledge about Latin American Culture and I can honestly say that this article has helped immensely. I enjoyed the article, some areas lost me a bit, like the part about theatrical performances but in all it was a very interesting and informative article.
Due to the sheer size of this piece I will highlight some topics that i feel were integral such as the influence of the Spaniards on popular culture. Although the colonial Spaniards tried to wipe out many of the natives' Religious customs and traditions, and attempted to replace them with Catholicism it is interesting that many of those customs and traditions have survived. "Popular Catholicism in rural Latin America tends to be combination of native pre-Columbian elements, Spanish popular Catholicism of the sixteenth century and the teachings of the official church" (Rowe and Shelling, Pg. 68). These ancient native traditions have been kept alive through oral teachings, art, and even theatrical performances. It is amazing to me that even though the Natives in Latin America were froced to adopt Catholicism and disregard their own Gods, the people were able to somewhat salvage a significant chunk of their traditions religious practices.
Another important aspect of the article is the focus on a flow of population between rural and urban settings. With 60-70% of the population in Latin America now living in cities there has been a shift identity and culture of the people. "To see the city as a corrupting and contaminating force, in opposition to a pure and authentic culture rooted in the rural areas is to indulge in nostalgia" (Rowe and Shelling, Pg. 97).  With such a massive flow of population from the rural areas of Latin America to modern urbanization, popular culture in Latin America is now revolved around city living, with elements such as mass media being able to reach all the way into rural areas as well. 
Lastly, being a sports fan I found it ironic that while the British first brought soccer to Latin America, most notably Brazil, now the Brazilians are the best soccer players in the world and constantly beat the British at their own game. Soccer is a game that can be played by anyone, regardless of socio-economic status, and often its the poorer nations in the world that have the strongest soccer players.
All in all, it was a very fun and informative article that provides a great look at the faces of popular culture in Latin America both over the past 400 years and up until the present day. 

1 comment:

  1. The preservation of the indigenous culture is something that interested me too. Some parts of the Americas have a significantly less degree of this than the places discussed in the reading. You have to wonder how much of the preservation was conscious effort as opposed to simply being a result of a rapid imposition of foreign tradition on a very different people.