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History > Latin American and Caribbean History

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Circuits of Culture Cover

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Circuits of Culture

Media, Politics, and Indigenous Identity in the Andes

Jeff D. Himpele

Set against the background of Bolivia’s prominent urban festival parades and the country’s recent appearance on the front lines of antiglobalization movements, Circuits of Culture is the first social analysis of Bolivian film and television, their circulation through the social and national landscape, and the emergence of the country’s indigenous video movement.

 

At the heart of Jeff Himpele’s examination is an ethnography of the popular television program, The Open Tribunal of the People. The indigenous and underrepresented majorities in La Paz have used the talk show to publicize their social problems and seek medical and legal assistance from the show’s hosts and the political party they launched. Himpele studies the program in order to identify the possibilities of the mass media as a site for political discourse and as a means of social action.

 

Charting as well the history of Bolivia’s media culture, Himpele perceptively investigates cinematic media as sites for understanding the modernization of Bolivia, its social movements, and the formation of indigenous identities, and in doing so provides a new framework for exploring the circulation of culture as a way of creating publics, political movements, and producing media.

 

Jeff D. Himpele is associate director for the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University. He is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker; his films include the award-winning Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza and Taypi Kala: Six Visions of Tiwanaku.

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Citizens and Sportsmen

Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth-Century Chile

By Brenda Elsey

This pioneering study of amateur fútbol (soccer) clubs in Chile reveals how the world’s most popular sport has served to engage citizens in local and national politics and support democratic practices.

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City at the Center of the World

Space, History, and Modernity in Quito

Ernesto Capello

In the seventeenth century, local Jesuits and Franciscans imagined Quito as the "new Rome." It was the origin of crusades into the wilderness and the purveyor of civilization to the entire region. By the early twentieth century, elites envisioned the city as the heart of a modern, advanced society—poised at the physical and metaphysical centers of the world. In this original cultural history, Ernesto Capello analyzes the formation of memory, myth, and modernity through the eyes of Quito's diverse populations. By employing Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of chronotopes, Capello views the configuration of time and space in narratives that defined Quito's identity and its place in the world. He explores the proliferation of these imaginings in architecture, museums, monuments, tourism, art, urban planning, literature, religion, indigenous rights, and politics. To Capello, these tropes began to crystallize at the end of the nineteenth century, serving as a tool for distinct groups who laid claim to history for economic or political gain during the upheavals of modernism. In the process of both destroying and renewing elements of the past, modern Quito thus emerged at the crux of Hispanism and Liberalism, as an independent global society struggling to keep the memory of its colonial and indigenous roots alive.

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The City of Musical Memory

Salsa, Record Grooves and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia

Lise A. Waxer

Salsa is a popular dance music developed by Puerto Ricans in New York City during the 1960s and 70s, based on Afro-Cuban forms. By the 1980s, the Colombian metropolis of Cali emerged on the global stage as an important center for salsa consumption and performance. Despite their geographic distance from the Caribbean and from Hispanic Caribbean migrants in New York City, Calenos (people from Cali) claim unity with Cubans, Puerto Ricans and New York Latinos by virtue of their having adopted salsa as their own. The City of Musical Memory explores this local adoption of salsa and its Afro-Caribbean antecedents in relation to national and regional musical styles, shedding light on salsa's spread to other Latin American cities. Cali's case disputes the prevalent academic notion that live music is more "real" or "authentic" than its recorded versions, since in this city salsa recordings were until recently much more important than musicians themselves, and continued to be influential in the live scene. This book makes valuable contributions to ongoing discussions about the place of technology in music culture and the complex negotiations of local and transnational cultural identities.

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The Civilizing Machine

A Cultural History of Mexican Railroads, 1876-1910

Michael Matthews

In late nineteenth-century Mexico the Mexican populace was fascinated with the country’s booming railroad network. Newspapers and periodicals were filled with art, poetry, literature, and social commentaries exploring the symbolic power of the railroad. As a symbol of economic, political, and industrial modernization, the locomotive served to demarcate a nation’s status in the world. However, the dangers of locomotive travel, complicated by the fact that Mexico’s railroads were foreign owned and operated, meant that the railroad could also symbolize disorder, death, and foreign domination.

In The Civilizing Machine, Michael Matthews explores the ideological and cultural milieu that shaped the Mexican people’s understanding of technology. Intrinsically tied to the Porfiriato, the thirty-five-year dictatorship of General Porfirio Díaz, the booming railroad network represented material progress in a country seeking its place in the modern world. Matthews discloses how the railroad’s development represented the crowning achievement of the regime and the material incarnation of its mantra, “order and progress.” The Porfirian administration evoked the railroad in legitimizing and justifying its own reign, while political opponents employed the same rhetorical themes embodied by the railroads to challenge the manner in which that regime achieved economic development and modernization. As Matthews illustrates, the multiple symbols of the locomotive reflected deepening social divisions and foreshadowed the conflicts that eventually brought about the Mexican Revolution.

 

Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas Cover

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Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas

Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II

By Emilio Zamora; Foreword by Juan Gómez Quiñones

In Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas, Emilio Zamora traces the experiences of Mexican workers on the American home front during World War II as they moved from rural to urban areas and sought better-paying jobs in rapidly expanding industries. Contending that discrimination undermined job opportunities, Zamora investigates the intervention by Mexico in the treatment of workers, the U.S. State Department's response, and Texas' emergence as a key site for negotiating the application of the Good Neighbor Policy. He examines the role of women workers, the evolving political struggle, the rise of the liberal-urban coalition, and the conservative tradition in Texas. Zamora also looks closely at civil and labor rights–related efforts, implemented by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Fair Employment Practice Committee.

Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution Cover

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Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution

Sherry Johnson

Drawing historical climatology, environmental history, and Cuban and American colonial history, Sherry Johnson innovatively integrates the history of the Spanish Caribbean and the Atlantic world during the Age of Revolution (1750-1800) with the period's extreme weather patterns and finds that weather-induced environmental crises played an inextricable and largely unacknowledged role in charting the course of this period as a critical juncture in Atlantic world history. Johnson reviews recent scientific discoveries in paleoclimatology and, combining them with archival materials, identifies an historic weather pattern--in particular, a fifty-year warming trend--that lead to a cycle of severe drought alternating with an increased number of hurricanes, what we know now as the El Nino/La Nina weather cycle. By superimposing this history of natural disasters over the conventional timeline of socio-political and economic events in Caribbean colonial history--involving such major themes as mercantalism, imperial business, rebellion, and repression--Johnson argues for an alternate chronology based on environmental and weather events in which the signal events of the Age of Revolution are seen as consequences of ecological crisis. In particular, Johnson finds that the the general adoption of free trade by the European powers in the Americas, esp. in the key imperial outposts in the Caribbean and the North Atlantic basin, was catalyzed by a recognition of the harsh realities of food scarcity and the complementary needs of local colonists reeling from a series of unrelenting natural disasters. The environmental crisis, and Spain's slow response in assisting its colonists, also raised levels of resentment on the island against the motherland, adding to slowly building revolutionary sentiments.

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The Closed Hand

Images of the Japanese in Modern Peruvian Literature

by Rebecca Riger Tsurumi

In her book, The Closed Hand: Images of the Japanese in Modern Peruvian Literature, Rebecca Riger Tsurumi captures the remarkable story behind the changing human landscape in Peru at the end of the nineteenth century when Japanese immigrants established what would become the second largest Japanese community in South America. She analyzes how non-Japanese Peruvian narrators unlock the unspoken attitudes and beliefs about the Japanese held by mainstream Peruvian society, as reflected in works written between l966 and 2006. Tsurumi explores how these Peruvian literary giants, including Mario Vargas Llosa, Miguel Gutiérrez, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Carmen Ollé, Pilar Dughi, and Mario Bellatin, invented Japanese characters whose cultural differences fascinated and confounded their creators. She compares the outsider views of these Peruvian narrators with the insider perceptions of two Japanese Peruvian poets, José Watanabe and Doris Moromisato, who tap personal experiences and memories to create images that define their identities. The book begins with a brief sociohistorical overview of Japan and Peru, describing the conditions in both nations that resulted in Japanese immigration to Peru and concluding in contemporary times. Tsurumi traces the evolution of the terms “Orient” and “Japanese/Oriental” and the depiction of Asians in Modernista poetry and in later works by Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges. She analyzes the images of the Japanese portrayed in individual works of modern Peruvian narrative, comparing them with those created in Japanese Peruvian poetry. The book concludes with an appendix containing excerpts from Tsurumi’s interviews and correspondence in Spanish with writers and poets in Lima and Mexico City.

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Cobble Circles and Standing Stones

Archaeology at the Rivas Site, Costa Rica

In this first-person tale of archaeological adventure in the tropical forest, Jeffrey Quilter tells the story of his excavation of Rivas, a great ceremonial center at the foot of the Talamanca Mountain range, which flourished between A.D. 900 and 1300, and its fabled gold-filled cemetery, the Panteón de La Reina. Beginning with the 1992 field season and ending with the last excavations in 1998, Quilter discusses Rivas’ builders and users, theories on chiefdom societies, and the daily interactions and surprises of modern archaeological fieldwork.

Writing in the first person with a balance between informal language and academic theory, Quilter concludes that Rivas was a ceremonial center for mortuary rituals to bury chiefly elite on the Panteón. Through use of his narrative technique, he provides the reader with accounts of discoveries as they occurred in fieldwork and the development of interpretations to explain the ancient refuse and cobble architecture his team uncovered. As his story progresses amid the enchantment of the Costa Rican landscape, research plans are adjusted and sometimes completely overturned as new discoveries, often serendipitous ones, are made. Such changing circumstances lead to new insights into the rise and fall of the people who built the cobble circles and raised the standing stones at Rivas, a thousand years ago.

The only book in English that focuses on a single archaeological site in Costa Rica, which continues to develop as a destination for archaeological tourism, Cobble Stones and Standing Circles will appeal to laypeople and professionals alike.

Cold War in a Hot Zone: The United States Confronts Labor and Independence Struggles in the British West Indies Cover

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Cold War in a Hot Zone: The United States Confronts Labor and Independence Struggles in the British West Indies

Beginning just before the start of World War II and ending during the Cold War, Gerald Horne's masterful examination of British Guiana and the British West Indies details the collapse of British colonial structures and the corresponding rise of U.S. regional influence. Horne reveals the realities of race and color in the Caribbean under colonial rule, while the colonizers-Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States-battled each other for hegemony on the world stage.

Horne seamlessly weaves a variety of untapped archival sources-including personal correspondence and newspaper stories from three continents-with a wide range of scholarly publications, journals and memoirs to illustrate an important, yet underexamined, regional history in a global context. 

Highlighting the centrality of the "labor question" in relation to colonial rule, Cold War in a Hot Zone is a compelling exposé of the racial dimensions of U.S. foreign policy and anti-communist initiatives during WWII and the Cold War that followed.

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