- Editors’ Preface
Around the world, the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s were years of intense political confrontations shaped by the Cold War. The United States faced the antagonism of the Soviet Union and became more involved in Vietnam. Domestically, Lyndon B. Johnson implemented his Great Society plan, which aimed to combat socioeconomic inequalities, and the civil rights movement worked to end discrimination against African Americans. As the editors of Social Text summed it up in The 60s without Apology,
the 60s is merely the name we give to a disruption of late capitalism ideological and political hegemony, to a disruption of the bourgeois dreams of unproblematic production, of everyday life as the bureaucratic society of controlled consumption, of the end of history.(2)
Culturally, this period saw the emergence of a counterculture movement in music and film. A general disenchantment impacted cinematic production in the US and a new filmic genre—road movies—captured the zeitgeist of those years by depicting characters who resisted the mandate to conform.
In Latin America the death of Che Guevara marked the end of the euphoria that had swayed the Latin American Left since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. These were the years of the instauration of authoritarian bureaucratic states, those defined by Argentine political scientist Guillermo O’Donnell as states that are influenced by a global capitalist order that benefits from class subordination (60). Two of its main features are the suppression of citizenship and political democracy (61). Hence, the popular is marginalized and disavowed as part of a strategy that entails the rigid exclusion of the working class.
The spirit of disillusionment also touched Europe where, in May and June 1968, student protests led to the biggest strike in the history of French labor. A similar concern mobilized Mexican students who protested in the Square of Three Cultures in October 1968, many of whom were massacred. These events led Jean Franco to assert that 1968 was a decisive year for Latin America. On one hand, the rural guerrillas that were crucial for the Cuban revolution were replaced by urban movements such as the Tupamaros in Uruguay and the Montoneros in Argentina. On the other hand, the United States sought to stress its influence in the region, defending the interests of multinationals and capitalism (324). This special issue of Studies in Latin American Popular Culture is dedicated to understanding the cultural production of the 1960s and 1970s. The essays gathered in [End Page 1] this issue analyze the emergence of popular music and rock in Latin America as contestatory forms of cultural production; survey the cinematographic production of Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba; illustrate the counterculture of Mexican writers gathered around La Onda; and examine the changing definitions of gender.
The editors of this volume would like to thank Melissa Fitch for the opportunity to prepare this special issue as well as all the authors who answered our Call for Papers and whose essays shed light on the way the popular was affected by ideological tensions and political events. We also appreciate Kevin Flaiz’s editorial help.