"Popular culture" has always represented a fulcrum within social, cultural and anthropological discourses in Latin America. Often imagined as representing a challenge to the dominant cultural paradigms of the "lettered city", it has repeatedly been mapped onto political, economic and even libidinal boundaries - between country and city, between folk and street, between the "masses" and elite national/political structures. Yet at the turn of the 21st century, concepts such as the "folk", the "popular", the "mass" and the "multitude" have exploded in the face of new cultural and informational technologies, putting cinematic, televisual and cybernetic manifestations of popular culture at the forefront of social processes.
In order to address the fragile contemporaneity of popular culture in Latin America, the essays in this collection engage with a wide range of cultural phenomena, from forms of mass political experience in the Colonial and Independence periods, to the modern-day emergence of street art, blogs, comic books and television, as well as the recycling of refuse as art, the marketing of santeria to tourists, and the filming of poverty in the favela. In so doing, they explore the diverse regimes of affect that both sustain and destabilize national symbolic orders, and chart the novel mediations between the national and the global in a see-sawing climate of conflicting economic and political ideologies.
Geoffrey Kantaris is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
Rory O'Bryen is a University Lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
Contributors: Francisco Ortega, Joanna Page, Stephen Hart, Erica Segre, Jesus Martin Barbero, Lucia Sa, Chandra Morrison, Claire Taylor, Andrea Noble, Ed King.