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Area and Ethnic Studies > Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Spatial Transitions in Post-Dictatorship Latin America
During the age of dictatorships, Latin American prisons became a symbol for the vanquishing of political opponents, many of whom were never seen again. In the post-dictatorship era of the 1990s, a number of these prisons were repurposed into shopping malls, museums, and memorials. Susana Draper uses the phenomenon of the “opening” of prisons and detention centers to begin a dialog on conceptualizations of democracy and freedom in post-dictatorship Latin America. Focusing on the Southern Cone nations of Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, Draper examines key works in architecture, film, and literature to peel away the veiled continuity of dictatorial power structures in ensuing consumer cultures. The afterlife of prisons became an important tool in the “forgetting” of past politics, while also serving as a reminder to citizens of the liberties they now enjoyed. In Draper’s analysis, these symbols led the populace to believe they had attained freedom, although they had only witnessed the veneer of democracy—in the ability to vote and consume. In selected literary works by Roberto Bolaño, Eleuterio Fernández Huidoboro, and Diamela Eltit and films by Alejandro Agresti and Marco Bechis, Draper finds further evidence of the emptiness and melancholy of underachieved goals in the afterlife of dictatorships. The social changes that did not occur, the inability to effectively mourn the losses of a now-hidden past, the homogenizing effects of market economies, and a yearning for the promises of true freedom are thematic currents underlying much of these texts. Draper’s study of the manipulation of culture and consumerism under the guise of democracy will have powerful implications not only for Latin Americanists but also for those studying neoliberal transformations globally.
Drawing on an analysis of issues surrounding the consumption of alcohol in a diverse range of source materials, including novels, newspapers, medical texts, and archival records, this lively and engaging interdisciplinary study explores sociocultural nation-building processes in Mexico between 1810 and 1910. Examining the historical importance of drinking as both an important feature of Mexican social life and a persistent source of concern for Mexican intellectuals and politicians, Deborah Toner’s Alcohol and Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Mexico offers surprising insights into how the nation was constructed and deconstructed in the nineteenth century.
Although Mexican intellectuals did indeed condemn the physically and morally debilitating aspects of excessive alcohol consumption and worried that particularly Mexican drinks and drinking places were preventing Mexico’s progress as a nation, they also identified more culturally valuable aspects of Mexican drinking cultures that ought to be celebrated as part of an “authentic” Mexican national culture. The intertwined literary and historical analysis in this study illustrates how wide-ranging the connections were between ideas about drinking, poverty, crime, insanity, citizenship, patriotism, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity in the nineteenth century, and the book makes timely and important contributions to the fields of Latin American literature, alcohol studies, and the social and cultural history of nation-building.
A Social and Cultural History
Alcohol in Latin America is the first interdisciplinary study to examine the historic role of alcohol across Latin America and over a broad time span. Six locations—the Andean region, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico—are seen through the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, art history, ethnohistory, history, and literature. Organized chronologically beginning with the colonial era, it features five chapters on Mesoamerica and five on South America, each focusing on various aspects of a dozen different kinds of beverages.
An in-depth look at how alcohol use in Latin America can serve as a lens through which race, class, gender, and state-building, among other topics, can be better understood, Alcohol in Latin America shows the historic influence of alcohol production and consumption in the region and how it is intimately connected to the larger forces of history.
This ms is an international history of the inter-American Cold War. Harmer looks at Chile during the presidency of Salvador Allende (1970-73) and outlines how he proposed a constitutional “Chilean road to socialism.” This call for a peaceful transformation of the inter-American system and international economic relations abroad resulted in a violent, unconstitutional future for Chile, with a right-wing dictatorship drowning out the promise of a revolution in the Southern Cone as well as the global South’s continued dependency on the North.
The Andean Church and its Indigenous Agents, 1583-1671
Focusing on the highland parishes of the Lima archdiocese, John Charles explores the vital, often conflictive role indigenous agents played in the creation of Andean Christian society. Torn between their obligation to enforce colonial laws and their customary obligation to protect native communities from the colonizers’ abuses, indios ladinos used the Spanish language to complicate the Church’s efforts to evangelize on its own terms. Utilizing a vast body of literary activity, Allies at Odds provides perspective on the Spanish cultural values that shaped the literary activity of native Andeans and that native Andeans had a part in shaping.
Pre-Hispanic History, Religion, and Nahua Poetics
Lee provides a new assessment of Nezahualcoyotl that critically examines original codices and poetry written in Nahuatl alongside Spanish chronicles in an effort to paint a more realistic portrait of the legendary Aztec figure. Urging scholars away from sources that reinforce a Judeo-Christian perspective of pre-Hispanic history, Lee offers a revision of the colonial images of Nahua history and culture that have continued over the last five hundred years.
The Astonishing Travels of Karl Heller, 1845-1848
Born between 1568 and 1580, Alva Ixtlilxochitl was a direct descendant of Ixtlilxochitl I and Ixtlilxochitl II, who had been rulers of Texcoco, one of the major city-states in pre-Conquest Mesoamerica. After a distinguished education and introduction into the life of the empire of New Spain in Mexico, Ixtlilxochitl was employed by the viceroy to write histories of the indigenous peoples in Mexico. Engaging with this history and delving deep into the resultant archives of this life's work, Amber Brian addresses the question of how knowledge and history came to be crafted in this era.
Brian takes the reader through not only the history of the archives itself, but explores how its inheritors played as crucial a role in shaping this indigenous history as the author. The archive helped inspire an emerging nationalism at a crucial juncture in Latin American history, as Creoles and indigenous peoples appropriated the history to give rise to a belief in Mexican exceptionalism. This belief, ultimately, shaped the modern state and impacted the course of history in the Americas. Without the work of Ixtlilxochitl, that history would look very different today.