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Since the independence of the Latin American nations, the idea of development among intellectuals has fluctuated between two tendencies. On the one hand, the creation of institutions following the lead of England, France, or the United States under positivist premises regarding education, science, material progress, industrialization, with the understanding that most fellow citizens, particularly indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, mixed-race peoples, and rural folk were not apt learners.
This fluctuation continues to this day, with neoliberals and globalizers, on the one hand, promoting a liberal cosmopolitanism, and on the other hand, decolonial activists seeking to work from indigenous ways of knowing.
A third position is that of those who seek to network across differences, advancing local, national, and regional projects. With regard to the definition of culture, this chapter takes as its point of departure the so-called anthropological view adopted by UNESCO: the representations, symbols, values, and practices by which a community reproduces itself.
A major challenge has been to mediate between these two tendencies. As thin as these thumbnail sketches of culture and development are, it should already be evident that they relate to each other, as in the developmentalist view that traditional cultures hold back development, or as in the contrary view that culture, like the environment, is a necessary factor in achieving a sustainable development that does not exhaust resources or endanger cultural and natural ecologies.
There are positions as well that see sustainable development as an alibi for a kinder and gentler despoliation of culture and nature. And finally, the Internet, social media, and OTT streaming platforms are transforming what we understand by culture and development.
We shall comment on all of these positions in the course of this essay. Another point to keep in mind is that there are many cultural matrices among the 20 or more countries that constitute the region, and significant variety within each nation.
What all these countries have in common is colonialism, a legacy that to this day has not been eradicated, despite the independent status of most of them.
Indeed, many Europeans and North Americans had condescending views of Latin Americans even into the late 20th century. From a developmentalist perspective, there certainly were advances to be lauded.
As we will see, this model goes hand in glove with a series of cultural changes. On the one hand, as increasing numbers of the popular classes entered the workforce, the populist governments fomented nationalist expressions of culture, evident in the promotion of samba in Brazil Raphael, or Mexican Golden Age cinema — with its focus on the Mexican Revolution, rural themes featuring mariachis and ranchera songs, and urban problems with the onset of modernization.
Having ushered in rapid economic growth in the s and s, the import-substitution industrialization model began to show its weaknesses by the s. Commodity prices fell after the Korean War of , exports could not keep up with imports thus leading to a balance of payments crisis. Inflation made exports even less competitive, and an increased workforce sought salary increases and labour protections, which were met by state repression Ward, State-led industrialization actually deepened inequality inherited from the unequal distribution of land during colonial times by concentrating industrial and financial capital Bulmer-Thomas, : The failures of industrialization and economic development, which looked so promising in the s and s, were attributed in large part by modernization theorists such as W.
Rostow to the inertia of traditional values and institutions: prevalence of primary economic activities, undifferentiated social roles and political structure, little social mobility, traditional and hierarchical sources of authority.
According to development theorists, these features slowed the process of moving toward a modern society characterized by differentiated social roles and political structures, high social mobility, high productivity and individual capacities for achievement, rational sources of authority Valenzuela and Valenzuela, While it is not the purpose of this chapter to delve into the economic analyses of development, it is nonetheless necessary to understand the relations that social scientists of development established between the cultural matrix of a society traditions, values, etc.
That fit varies so that there are different instantiations of dependency. The most recent opportunity structure at the time that dependency theory emerged was transnational capitalism, made possible by innovations in communications, transportation, and technology, which reset the conditions for insertion into the world economy.
Modernization and dependency were also categories in the cultural sphere, particularly in literature, the visual arts, and media. Rather than see the cultural differences of Latin American literature as aberrant or as versions of the Western canon e. Literature, especially fiction, played a major role in discussions of modernization among Latin American intellectuals, already evident in the debate regarding modernismo , which will be reprised in the s and s regarding the Latin American New Novel and the concept of transculturation, both of which are discussed below.
More importantly, the relation to the world system affects the conditions of cultural production, orienting critical attention and sales in the cultural market to those genres and forms of representation that can have greater uptake internationally. Writing in , Franco focuses on US technological influence, particularly in communications, which established, with few exceptions, the norms according to which the media sphere — including genres, styles, and forms of circulation — was shaped.
Dependency in this area was addressed in the s by the New World Information and Communication Order NWICO , which followed from a set of critiques of Western mainstream media made by intellectuals and activists from developing nations.
In the s, there emerged a debate over the subservience or autonomy of modernista literature in Spanish America. It was the dazzling vehicle of a repudiable evasion, the brilliant mining of a malnourishing vein. It is not surprising that the notion of a Latin American cultural autonomy would emerge at the same time as dependency theory. The Boom novelists and their boosters felt that Latin America had finally come into its own, overcoming dependency by naming it in their newly invented literary language.
NWICO sought to counter biases in reporting on developing nations, filtered by Western news agencies, and to establish a balance in the flow of TV programs.
It demanded technology transfer so that these countries could develop robust communications systems. It also sought to counter the manufacture of desire for consumer goods through advertising MacBride and Roach, Indeed, this aspect of culture, as export, will constitute an important part of what I argue below, but before elaborating on this issue, it is important to consider other arguments regarding what Dorfman and Mattelart call cultural imperialism, for they also make a claim to, if not autonomy, certainly innovations in Latin American culture.
The assumption is that if audiences read comics or view TV series in which characters are individualistic and only interested in profit, they will acquire those values and ways of being.
Audience reception is, of course, much more complex, which is not an argument for privileging US or European media over local production. Today, cultural policies aim for diversity rather than an exclusive focus on national culture; increasingly, this also seems to be the goal of the new media: to foster a greater heterogeneity in conversations that take place in social media as well as face-to-face encounters.
In the conclusion, I shall discuss how the development of media and cultural delivery platforms has changed and how that change factors into understandings of cultural development in Latin America.
But before doing so, it is important to examine a line of argument about cultural development that does not see the penetration by foreign media and cultures as producing a backwardness in Latin American cultures, but rather a reality that since the conquest of America has resulted in the emergence of creative hybridities.
In the s, he was Chief of the Folklore Section of the Ministry of Education of Peru, and in that capacity he operated as a mediator between local Andean musics and the new technologies that came with US music. In other words, traditional culture could survive and indeed increase its scope as it circulated nationally, transformed via the appropriation of new technologies.
Arguedas did not seek to disalienate the popular classes because he did not see them as alienated. Instead, he sought to help them create and legitimize a cultural counter-hegemonic space.
During the heyday of dependency theory in the s and s, the possible options for breaking free from dependency seemed to be the full integration of popular sectors via industrial labour, although that option foundered with the failure of import industrialization, or revolution, which became more difficult after the Chilean coup in , the US embargo on Cuba, and the US-backed counter-insurgency strategies that brought the Central American national liberation civil wars in the s to the negotiating table without any gains for popular groups.
It is clear that Rama discerns in the regional novelists an original solution to the conundrums of combined and uneven development that social scientists had not seen. Rama sees these transculturators as mediators between different cultures found within the boundaries of the nation-state, who are sensitive to the ways in which their societies are modernized Ibid.
Indeed, he seems to attribute to them something akin to the Romantic visionary genius who could see the spiritual meaning in nature, with the difference that culture replaces nature and the nation replaces spirit in transculturation.
Far from seeking to protect a pristine Andean culture, Arguedas sought to facilitate the massification of Andean musics. Already in the s, Arguedas was working to provide a space in which Peruvians could develop a cultural resilience with inputs from within any of their regional cultures as well as from abroad. While Arguedas sought to give Andean culture, albeit a hybridized one, protagonism within the framework of the Peruvian nation-state, subsequently hybridity discourse moved to a more transnational scale.
His later work examines a wealth of examples from art, literature, crafts, and urban cultures to demonstrate that traditions have not been rendered obsolete but that they are in transition . The book that he edited with Guillermo Guevara Niebla diagnoses the likely impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on education, cultural industries, technological innovation, intellectual property and copyright, and tourism.
This focus on the force field in which culture takes shape, with local as well as international impacts, shows that the relationship between culture and power is much broader and more complex than the representation of traditions, identity groups, or even social movements. These intellectuals understood that the United States intended to get control over culture and nature through the terms of trade, which override national laws.
Questions of national cultural identity were no longer enough in order to understand the workings of culture in an era of neoliberal globalization. Until the s and s, Latin American cultural policy-making institutions ministries, secretariats, and councils had largely focused on supporting Eurocentric arts national theatres, symphony orchestras, museums that would make them conversant in a league of modern nations, and on folklore and heritage, which would provide ballast for national identity.
We have already seen how Dorfman and Mattelart sought to protect national culture from the juggernaut of Western media. To this end, he makes a series of recommendations for a regional, Latin American media and cultural space, as well as establishes the parameters of a democratic interculturality. This means acknowledging heterogeneity in the design of policies to promote the relation between local traditions and the cultural and creative industries, which largely operate according to international standards.
This focus on hybridity, heterogeneity, diversity, and interculturality was also interpreted ecologically, in analogy with the need to safeguard biodiversity for the survival of the planet. Indeed, as Arturo Escobar notes, indigenous and inter-religious movements in Latin America have sought to establish culture as the fourth pillar of development.
Indeed, several Latin American cities have been quite active in UCLG and have made great strides in formulating cultural policy within this ecological framework. The government of Fajardo was characterized by the transversality of projects for citizen empowerment. The most iconic example are the Library Parks, also part of a broader strategy to integrate the city. They link with schools, day-care centres, sports centres, cultural centres, and gardens that facilitate participation in activities for the poorer sectors of the city because they are located at major transport intersections and provide access to media Melguizo, The intersectorial and transversal character of urban revitalization is articulated with aesthetic, cultural, and educational processes.
As architect Alejandro Echeverri, who directed the revitalization project as Secretary of Urban Development, explains, a true transformation cannot be achieved by investing only in physical or material infrastructure. Local residents are encouraged to participate actively in the program, orienting its policies Gerbase, To be sure, there also are urban cultural policies that seek to position certain cities like Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro squarely in the international cultural marketplace.
From the mids on, creative cities policies circulated around the globe, encouraging urban policy-makers to invest in the cultural and creative industries, and in particular those industries protected by copyright. The inclusion of advertising and software should raise eyebrows regarding how culture art, performing arts, film, books, music, heritage is reconstituted through the notion of creativity, but it is clear that the international trade context encouraged repackaging these heterogeneous sectors as one policy priority.
A community cultural organization is selected by a committee of peers and receives funding, computer equipment, Internet connectivity, and inclusion in a network of other points, enabling communication on common issues that they confront. It is important to acknowledge, as well, that Gilberto Gil, already a seasoned city councilman in his hometown of Salvador da Bahia, with abundant expertise in cultural policy, drew on human rights activism since the dictatorship years as well as the vibrant cultural activism throughout Brazil when he created the Cultura Viva department, which houses the Points of Culture.
The Points of Culture, a priority action of Cultura Viva, are the nodal points of a horizontal network of articulation, reception, and dissemination of cultural initiatives. A common feature among them is the transversality of culture since they necessarily involve actions that cross sectorial boundaries. Turino sees the Points of Culture as nodes that are linked, in contrast to the social divisions that characterize society in terms of class and race.
The numerous points of culture make that diversity visible, not only from a symbolic point of view which in itself is already an important achievement but also as a process that can generate a new economy Ibid.
This program revolutionized cultural policy in Brazil, and as we shall see, throughout Latin America. The immediate prehistory of CVC begins in December in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where a number of cultural networks and leaders of cultural organizations and movements from half a dozen countries met at the First International Congress of Culture for Social Transformation, organized by the Cultural Institute of the Province of Buenos Aires with the collaboration of the Federal Investment Council.
It is not by chance that these actors came together; many got to know each other in the context of the left-turn in Latin America in the new millennium, which prioritized the protagonism of the popular classes and marginalized groups such as Afrodescendants and indigenous peoples. The participants in these forums sought to empower the disadvantaged through art and cultural practice, not as spectators but as active participants.
They are members of Iberculturaviva, which is the platform within the Iberoamerican General Secretariat a UN-like organization of countries from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal , from which the Points of Culture movement continues to lobby governments. These promises are made not by governments as was the case with telephony and the television spectrum or with regard to cultural subventions like those of the Points of Culture.
No, the promises are made by rather immodest corporations such as Google and Facebook. Latin American governments are ill-prepared, both legally and financially, to support domestic equivalents, which would contribute to tax revenues. At the same time, the question arises as to who should provide a seemingly public service, such as the Internet, which is nowadays the equivalent of classic utilities of the 20th century, such as water and power, and which increasingly carries all kinds of culture film, TV shows, theatre, opera, music, books, videogames, etc.
Most states have very little to say in this regard, except for China, which has put up a Great Firewall to Facebook, Google, and other Western platforms.
In Latin America, there is very little resistance to global new media penetration.
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