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Cultural Studies of the Americas

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Cultural Studies of the Americas

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Captive Women

Oblivion And Memory In Argentina

Susana Rotker

Argentina is the only country in the Americas that has successfully erased the presence of Indians, Africans, and mestizos from its national story. Official documents, reports, and censuses have largely omitted any references to the country’s non-European inhabitants, mirroring official policies that once included the extermination of indigenous peoples and continued to encourage Europeanization well into the twentieth century. In Captive Women, Susana Rotker exposes this concerted act of forgetting by looking at a historical phenomenon that has been expunged from the national record: the widespread kidnapping of white women by Argentine Indians in the nineteenth century.

Captivity narratives form a major part of the early colonial literature of the United States, but Argentina has no such tradition. These narratives contradict Argentina’s carefully shaped self-image, one historically based on the absence of aboriginal peoples and the impossibility of miscegenation. Captive Women uses close and imaginative readings of military documents, government treaties, travel journals, essays, and memoirs to explore the foundations of Argentina's strategies of silence and its negation of uncomfortable historical realities.

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Carnival Theater

Uruguay’s Popular Performers and National Culture

Gustavo Remedi

The murgas are troupes of performers, musicians, writers, and creators who, during Montevideo’s Carnival, perform on the tablados, temporary stages built in the neighborhoods of Uruguay’s capital city each year. Throughout the period of Uruguay’s subjection to a brutal dictatorship and in the following era of “democratization,” the murgas, envisioned originally as popular theater, were transformed into a symbol of social resistance, celebrated by many and perceived by others as menacing and subversive.

Focusing on the cultural practices of the lower classes and more specifically on the processes and productions of the murgas, Gustavo Remedi’s Carnival Theater is a deeply thoughtful consideration of Uruguayan society’s identity crisis and subsequent redefinition in the wake of the authoritarian-bureaucratic-technocratic regimes of the 1970s. A revealing work of cultural criticism, the book proposes a new set of criteria for the interpretation and critique of national culture.



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Consumers And Citizens

Globalization and Multicultural Conflicts

Nestor Garcia Canclini

In Consumers and Citizens, Néstor García Canclini, the best-known and most innovative cultural studies scholar in Latin America, maps the critical effects of urban sprawl and global media and commodity markets on citizens-and shows at the same time that the complex results mean not only a shrinkage of certain traditional rights (particularly those of the welfare or client state) but also new openings for expanding citizenship.

García Canclini focuses on the diverse ways in which democratic societies recognize markets of citizen opinions, however heterogeneous and dissonant, as in the fashion and entertainment industries. He shows how identity issues, brought to the fore by the aligning of citizenship and consumption, can no longer be understood strictly within the purview of territory or nation. Rather, the postmodern citizen-consumer inhabits a transterritorial and multilingual space, structured more along the lines of markets than states. Defining this space, García Canclini seeks to formulate a participatory and critical approach to consumption in which national culture, far from being extinguished, is reconstituted in transnational, cultural interactions.

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Couture and Consensus

Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina

Regina A. Root

Following Argentina’s revolution in 1810, the dress of young patriots inspired a nation and distanced its politics from the relics of Spanish colonialism. Fashion writing often escaped the notice of authorities, allowing authors to masquerade political ideas under the guise of frivolity and entertainment. In Couture and Consensus, Regina A. Root maps this pivotal and overlooked facet of Argentine cultural history, showing how politics emerged from dress to disrupt authoritarian practices and stimulate creativity in a newly independent nation.
 
Drawing from genres as diverse as fiction, poetry, songs, and fashion magazines, Root offers a sartorial history that produces an original understanding of how Argentina forged its identity during the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas (1829–1852), a critical historical time. Couture and Consensus closely analyzes military uniforms, women’s dress, and the novels of the era to reveal fashion’s role in advancing an agenda and disseminating political goals, notions Root connects to the contemporary moment.
 
An insightful presentation of the discourse of fashion, Couture and Consensus also paints a riveting portrait of Argentine society in the nineteenth century—its politics, people, and creative forces.

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Cuban Cinema

Michael Chanan

The earliest films made in Cuba—newsreel footage of the Cuban-Spanish-American War—date from the end of the nineteenth century, but Cuba cannot be said to have had an indigenous film industry before the revolution of 1959. The melodramas, musicals, and comedies made until then reflected Hollywood’s—and the United States’s—cultural domination of the island, but the revolution precipitated urgent debates about the role of cinema in a socialist country and the kinds of films best suited to the needs of the people and their rulers. Among the feature films, documentaries, and short subjects made in accordance with revolutionary principles are celebrated works by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Humberto Solás, and other filmmakers who have had a profound influence on both Latin American and world cinema. Michael Chanan provides a comprehensive, authoritative, and absorbing account of Cuban cinema both before and after the revolution, deftly setting individual films and filmmakers within the larger framework of Cuba’s social, political, and cultural history. First published as The Cuban Image in 1984 to wide acclaim, Cuban Cinema now appears in a new, expanded edition that updates Chanan’s discussion to the beginning of the twenty-first century. New chapters address ongoing concerns about freedom of expression; Havana’s restored importance within the Latin American film industry through the Havana Film Festival, before state support for filmmakers dwindled in the economic collapse that followed the fall of the Soviet Union; Cuban cinema’s place within the globalized cultural market; and the changing audience for Cuban films. The only book-length study of Cuban cinema written in English, this indispensable work on one of the world’s most vital national cinemas offers a unique perspective on the Cuban experience in the twentieth century.

Michael Chanan is a documentary filmmaker and professor of cultural and media studies at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

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Cuban Currency

The Dollar and “Special Period” Fiction

Esther Whitfield

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, during an economic crisis termed its “special period in times of peace,” Cuba began to court the capitalist world for the first time since its 1959 revolution. With the U.S. dollar instated as domestic currency, the island seemed suddenly accessible to foreign consumers, and their interest in its culture boomed.

 

Cuban Currency is the first book to address the effects on Cuban literature of the country’s spectacular opening to foreign markets that marked the end of the twentieth century. Based on interviews and archival research in Havana, Esther Whitfield argues that writers have both challenged and profited from new transnational markets for their work, with far-reaching literary and ideological implications. Whitfield examines money and cross-cultural economic relations as they are inscribed in Cuban fiction. Exploring the work of Zoé Valdés, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Antonio José Ponte and others, she draws out writers’ engagements with the troublesome commodification of Cuban identity.

 

Confronting the tourist and publishing industries’ roles in the transformation of the Cuban revolution into commercial capital, Whitfield identifies a body of fiction peculiarly attuned to the material and political challenges of the “special period.”

 

Esther Whitfield is assistant professor of comparative literature at Brown University.

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Cultural Residues

Chile In Transition

Nelly Richard

A complex portrait of postdictatorial Chile by one of that country’s most incisive cultural critics, this book uses memoirs, photographs, the plastic arts, novels, and other texts—the “residues” of a culture—to analyze the political-cultural Chilean landscape in the wake of Augusto Pinochet’s seventeen-year military rule. Such residual areas reveal the flaws and lapses in Chile’s transition from violent military dictatorship to electoral democracy.

Nelly Richard's analysis ranges from an exploration of false memories of the recent past—especially memories of violence—to a discussion of the university under neoliberalism; from debates about the use of the word “gender” to an examination of refractory texts and cultural activities such as Diamela Eltit’s “testimonio” of a schizophrenic vagabond, Eugenio Dittborn’s use of photography in art installations, and transvestite performances. In Cultural Residues, each instance becomes a suggestive metaphor for understanding a rapidly modernizing Chile attempting to re-democratize its public life.


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Infertilities

Exploring Fictions of Barren Bodies

Robin Truth Goodman

In today’s global market, ideas about family, femininity, and reproduction are traded on as actively as any currency or stock. The connection has a history, one rooted in a conception of feminine identities invented through a science interwoven with the pursuit of empire, the accumulation of goods, and the furtherance of power. It is this history that Robin Truth Goodman exposes in her provocative analysis of literary and political representations of female infertility from the mid-nineteenth century to our day. Goodman takes Darwin’s studies on sterility between species as her starting point, exploring evolutionary science as the intersection of a colonial worldview based on class struggle and the pathologizing of female identities that fall outside reproductive normalcy. She then examines how Joseph Conrad constructs a vision of feminism as a product of miscegenation, how Alejo Carpentier and Mario Vargas Llosa deploy female figures of miscegenation to recast Latin American literature as "difference," and how ecological devastation in the Brazilian Amazon is envisioned through failures in Indian marriage. Locating points of conjunction between queer, feminist, and postcolonial theories, Infertilities points to the role of lesbian representation and reproductive politics in ongoing critiques of globalism.

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The Inner Life of Mestizo Nationalism

Estelle Tarica

The only recent English-language work on Spanish-American indigenismo from a literary perspective, Estelle Tarica’s work shows how modern Mexican and Andean discourses about the relationship between Indians and non-Indians create a unique literary aesthetic that is instrumental in defining the experience of mestizo nationalism. 

 

Engaging with narratives by Jesús Lara, José María Arguedas, and Rosario Castellanos, among other thinkers, Tarica explores the rhetorical and ideological aspects of interethnic affinity and connection. In her examination, she demonstrates that these connections posed a challenge to existing racial hierarchies in Spanish America by celebrating a new kind of national self at the same time that they contributed to new forms of subjection and discrimination.

 

Going beyond debates about the relative merits of indigenismo and mestizaje, Tarica puts forward a new perspective on indigenista literature and modern mestizo identities by revealing how these ideologies are symptomatic of the dilemmas of national subject formation. The Inner Life of Mestizo Nationalism offers insight into the contemporary resurgence and importance of indigenista discourses in Latin America.

 

Estelle Tarica is associate professor of Latin American literature and culture at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Latin Americanism

Roman De La Campa

In this timely book, Román de la Campa asks to what degree the Latin America studied in U.S. academies is actually an entity “made in the U.S.A.” He argues that there is an ever-increasing gap between the political, theoretical, and financial pressures affecting the U.S. academy and Latin America’s own cultural, political, and literary practices, and considers what this new Latin Americanism has to say about the claims of poststructuralism, postmodern theory, and deconstruction. De la Campa focuses on the conduct of Latin American literary criticism in U.S. universities and compares this with the “Latin Americanism” of Latin America itself. He examines the translation of Latin American works into English, the careerism of U.S. intellectuals, the conduct of Latin American literary criticism in English, and the diaspora of Third World intellectuals. In a reconsideration of the vogue in Latin American literature and magical realism in light of new work by theorists residing in Latin America, he contrasts this work with critiques of Latin American discourses in the United States. A critique of postmodern and postcolonial constructions as articulated differently in the United States and Latin America, this hard-hitting but fair-minded book provides a postdeconstructive perspective on culture and literature. ISBN 0-8166-3116-6 Cloth £00.00 $47.95xx ISBN 0-8166-3117-4 Paper £00.00 $18.95x 224 Pages 5 7/8 x 9 June Cultural Studies of the Americas Series, volume 3 Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

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