- Latin American Cinemas: Local Views and Transnational Connections ed. by Nayibe Bermúdez Barrios
The project outlined in Latin American Cinemas: Local Views and Transnational Connections is informed by a recent shift in scholarship on Latin American cinema that draws on the body’s lived experience as a marker and producer of identity rather than on larger abstract categories that categorize the individual primarily along ethnic, economic, or political lines. This shift transcends nationalist discourses in Latin American film, relocating the site of identity negotiation onto the individual body in relation to other bodies rather than on citizen to state. The notion of the individual as engaged in an ideological or political struggle as represented in most major Latin American film movements since the 1960s gives way to a focus on the corporeality of the individual in a transversal and reciprocal relationship with other individuals. The editor cites philosopher Enrique Dussel’s conceptualization of modernity as a homogenizing force that propagates conventional ethnic and patriarchal discourses in that such paradigms as inclusion-exclusion and center-periphery underlie its assumptions. Aníbal Quijano’s emphasis on corporeality, which illustrates capitalism’s claim on the body, coupled with Dussel’s critique of modernity, serves as the foundational rationale for this volume.
Divided into three sections, the collection explores a “wide variety of singularities and a politics of solidarity which would foster dignity for all subjects” (4). As in Jean-Luc Nancy’s formulation, community must be [End Page 199] founded on a resistance to homogenization while particularity is embraced. Individuals are engaged in a constant merging with, flowing into, and separating from various groupings, resisting symbolization and transcendence in the sense that these can erase or gloss over individual differences. The first group of essays question the concept of the totalizing institution of the nation-state, focusing on how the breakdown of its various institutions plays out in the lives of ordinary citizens. They question the relevance of traditional conceptualizations, exploring new ideas about national belonging. In the second group, the focus turns away from the nation-state toward affect and the individual’s sexuality. Again the particularity of one’s individual sexual expression, in all its movement and flow, is to be embraced rather than assimilated or homogenized. The third group explore cinema as an industry in Latin America, showing how a desire for community leads to a more global sense of interconnectedness and representing identity formation as a collaborative process in which center-periphery gives way to creative, mutual fecundation.
As is typical in such works, the theoretical approaches represented are eclectic and cover mainstream, as well as marginalized, cinemas, including works by such well-known directors as María Novaro and Juan José Campanella, along with independent cinema such as that by women in Chiapas in recent years. Without prioritizing the national, this volume provides fairly broad geographical coverage while emphasizing the trans-nationality of production and consumption that characterizes Latin American cinema of the twenty-first century. A common thread situates national concerns as the backdrop for and dynamic partner in a visceral struggle that is played out on the bodies of the characters represented. Since this struggle seems to constitute the spiritual core of the volume, it is no surprise that the second section, “Sexuality, Rape and Representation,” is the strongest in supporting the proposed aim of the project: “to examine contemporary lives in their diversity and singularity through their focus on identity politics, sexuality, the body, the family and/or community” (1), given that the sexed and sexualized body forms a fundamental site of negotiation. It also proves to be among the most theoretically innovative sections, with Gerard Dapena’s study of Hernández’s El cielo dividido being especially suggestive. Through Deleuze’s film theory Dapena explores how new subjectivities and sexual identities “are constituted in a world of time and sensation, of materiality and immanence” (127). Dapena rejects facile allegorical readings, instead probing the perceptual apprehension of this film and speculating that...