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The Cambridge History of Latin America
  • Volume 10: Latin America since 1930: Ideas, Culture, and Society
  • Edited by Leslie Bethell, University of Oxford

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    The Cambridge History of Latin America
    • Volume 10: Latin America since 1930: Ideas, Culture, and Society
    • Edited by Leslie Bethell
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055253
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943
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Book description

The essays in Volume X discuss the modernist culture of the 1920s in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico; the renaissance of Latin American philosophy in the 1940s; major trends in Latin American narrative and poetry, including the indigenous literatures and cultures; the work of twentieth-century Latin American composers, architects, and filmmakers; Latin American mass media, including newspapers, magazines, radio and television; and the development of sculpture, painting, and mural art in the twentieth century. As such, this volume will be an important resource for scholars and general readers seeking to understand modern Latin American culture.

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On the Cambridge History of Latin America:‘I find it hard to believe that a better collaborative history of Latin America could be assembled at the present time.’

Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement

‘ … wide-ranging in scope … substantial and impressive achievements’.

Nicola Miller Source: Bulletin of Latin American Research

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  • 1 - The multiverse of Latin American identity, c. 1920–c. 1970
    pp 1-128
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.002
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter considers identity primarily with reference to national societies, to aggregations of national societies in Latin America, and to sub-national societies or groups. It then illustrates various tactics, whether deliberate or unwitting, for establishing recognition of shared identity. Next, the chapter examines modernism, the novel and essay, and philosophy as moments of a prise de conscience that took shape in Latin America in the 1920s and, in shifting modes and guises, still continues. These three moments are not strictly consecutive nor confined to specific decades, nor are they the sole intellectual beacons of their periods, nor are they walled off like 'disciplines'. In the 1940s and early 1950s the Latin American prise de conscience of the twentieth century leads to the realm of philosophy. The professionalization of philosophy in Latin America preceded that of the social sciences, which got fully under way only in the 1960s.
  • 2 - Latin American narrative since c. 1920
    pp 129-222
    • By Gerald Martin, Professor of Modern Languages, University of Pittsburgh
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    There are many ways in which one can try to encapsulate the process of Latin American fiction, but no point of departure is ultimately more persuasive than the distinction between an Americanist and a 'universalist', or 'cosmopolitan', orientation. The story of the Latin American novel in the early decades of the twentieth century appears, in retrospect, as the story of a mapping, a narrative of fields, paths and horizons, in which knowledge, progress and development were seemingly no longer problematical. Regionalism and Americanism are two sides of the same impulse and the concept 'novel of the land' was actually a symbolic designation. After the social realism of the 1920s and 1930s, much of the narrative fiction of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s has been given a more seductive name: 'Magical Realism'. The conjuncture which the 'Boom' represented saw the completion of one development, Latin American Modernism, and the beginnings of another, Latin American Postmodernism.
  • 3 - Latin American poetry, c. 1920–1950
    pp 223-256
    • By Jaime Concha, Professor of Latin American Literature, University of California at San Diego
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Before the blossoming of narrative in the second half of the twentieth century poetry occupied a pre-eminent position and role in the world of Latin American literature. The poetry produced in Argentina during the Radical ascendency included work by Jorge Luis Borges, Oliverio Girondo, possibly the poet with the most authentic avant-garde spirit, and many others. The obsession with national identity would be bordering on caricature, were it not for the saving graces of humour and irony, so firmly etched into Brazilian literature. In spite of differences in historical development, social structure and cultural traditions, Puerto Rico and Cuba are not too dissimilar, linked by the former's colonial situation and the neo-colonial domination suffered by the latter, which had begun to be consolidated under Gerardo Machado's dictatorship. The decade running from 1930 to 1940 was probably the most significant in the development of Latin American poetry. During this time, poetry reached its highest levels of revelation and expression.
  • 4 - Latin American poetry since 1950
    pp 257-286
    • By Jason Wilson, Reader in Latin American Literature, University College London
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By the 1950s Latin American poets were writing within the context of their own continental traditions. Poets in Latin America were and are rewarded for being poets in a continent with high levels of illiteracy, and little access to 'high culture'. This chapter discusses four loosely denned poetic traditions, such as the surrealist and post-surrealistic tradition, guerrilla and political poetry tradition, concrete and neo-baroque tradition, and anti-poetry tradition. Parisian surrealism condensed all the theories about liberation and writing in the air in the 1920s, and turned them into manifestos with codes. The Cuban revolution offered a way forward for many Latin American poets concerned with the scandalous injustices of their continent; it was possible to combine impatience for change with a revolutionary poetics. Several critics have seen in anti-poetry the style that matches the post- 19505 period, for anti-poetry is a questioning of the value of poetry and of the inflated egos of poets from within the poems.
  • 5 - Indigenous literatures and cultures in twentieth-century Latin America
    pp 287-306
    • By Gordon Brotherston, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Indiana University at Bloomington
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    During the last half-century accounts of indigenous America have pointed to a deeper and wider coherence, and a greater resilience, than was formerly recognized in academic and official discourse, notably in mainstream Anglo-American social anthropology. The literal bedrock of native thought, American cosmogony has in recent years acquired dramatic relevance for those interested in ecology and the possible survival of the human species. Cuna society acknowledges a hierarchy of sub-genres or 'ways', childbirth epics, funereal epics and so on, that derive from the major cosmogony Tatkan ikala, consigning all to notebooks in a special form of pictographic script. Collective authorship has undoubtedly been the norm in native literary production. After decades of Indianism and indigenism, in which Indian characters tended to be little more than the hypothetical constructs of Romantics or social realists, native culture began to make a profound impact on Latin American literature.
  • 6 - Latin American music, c. 1920—c. 1980
    pp 307-364
    • By Gerard Béhague, Professor of Music and Fine Arts, University of Texas at Austin
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The history of Latin American art-music composition in the twentieth century begins with a period of nationalist assertion, with neo-Romantic and neo-classical countercurrents, followed by a period of openly experimental tendencies. The late nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century saw the emergence of musical nationalism, particularly in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil, under the influence of similar trends in Europe. As an aspect of culture, music did not escape during the first half of the twentieth century the influence of the rapid development of nationalism in the socio-political life of the Latin American republics. Although musical nationalism prevailed in Latin America well into the 1950s, other currents, some opposed to nationalism and others indifferent to it, emerged from the beginning of the twentieth century. Since the middle of the twentieth century the profound transformations that have affected art-music in Latin America have resulted in a variety of styles and in a diversity of aesthetics.
  • 7 - Latin American architecture, c. 1920–c. 1980
    pp 365-392
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Relative economic prosperity resulting from Latin America's accelerated integration into world economy and the arrival of thousands of immigrants from all over the world, but above all from Europe, had at least two important consequences for Latin American architecture. Architecture at the end of nineteenth century met a common fate in nearly all the Latin American republics: there was a reaction against everything Spanish or Portuguese that might even remotely conjure up memories of colonial dependence. Several buildings were erected in Mexico City in the neo-colonial style during the early years of the twentieth-century. At the end of the nineteenth century there were few notable buildings in Guatemala, whose capital was built and rebuilt after the various earthquakes that dot its troubled history. In Cuba and Puerto Rico until the end of the nineteenth century the architectural models still came from Spain, but after the Spanish-American War the influence of North American architecture was dominant.
  • 8 - Latin American art since c. 1920
    pp 393-454
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Beginning in the 1870s Latin American art was gradually transformed by a dual phenomenon. Latin American artists were gradually exposed to naturalism, impressionism, post-impressionism and symbolism. This chapter discusses Latin American art in many countries, such as Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Halti, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Urugauy and Brazil. Joaquin Clausell, who was a lawyer by profession, decided to paint in the impressionist style after a brief sojourn in Europe and became its best representative in Mexico throughout his long career as a painter. In Cuba which declared itself an independent country only in 1902 art had been strongly marked by Spanish colonial rule. In the Dominican Republic it can be said that modern painting begins with Abelardo Rodriguez Urdaneta, an academic painter who did historical paintings and scenes of local colour. Haiti achieved international recognition in the field of art with the founding of the Art Center in Port-au-Prince in 1944.
  • 9 - Latin American cinema
    pp 455-518
    • By John King, Reader in Latin American Cultural History, University of Warwick
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    With the advent of the centenary of cinema, each country has a story to tell about the arrival of moving pictures in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Cinema took root in the developing cities of Latin America during the next twenty years. The universal language of cinema now gave way to the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues. Local entrepreneurs in Latin America soon realized the possibilities opened by sound and, in countries with a large domestic market, that is to say, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, investment was made in machinery and in installations. The early 1950s witnessed a slow but appreciable shift in the appreciation of cinema among intellectuals and middle-class sectors more generally. The 'new' cinemas in Latin America grew up in the optimistic conditions of the late 1950s and early 1960s in Latin America. The decade of the 1970s witnessed several interlocking trends that profoundly affected the development of cinema.
  • 10 - Latin American broadcasting
    pp 519-568
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    On 27 August 1920, four Argentine medical students broadcast Wagner's Parsifal from the roof of the Coliseo theatre in Buenos Aires. During the 1920s, visionary pioneers introduced radio into almost every country in Latin America. Experimental broadcasts began in Mexico in 1921. This chapter focuses on broadcasting, both radio and television, the truly mass media in many centuries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Colombia, Uruguay and Cuba. The Latin American newspapers and magazines of the early twentieth century scarcely compared with what by the second half of the century would become the sprawling Latin American radio and television conglomerates with their mass appeal and national audiences. In most Latin American countries the growth of commercial radio coincided with the development of national industries and fulfilled their need for an advertising medium to reach new urban markets, swelled by an influx of migrants from the countryside looking for factory jobs.
  • Bibliographical essays
    pp 569-622
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521495943.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This bibliography presents a list of reference materials that are related to aspect of the history, culture and society of Latin America. A deeply imaginative reflection on the character of cultural expression in the Americas, presented by historical eras, is La expresion amerkana by the noted Cuban writer Jose Lezama Lima, first published in Havana in 1957. The last thirty years have seen an extraordinary transformation in Latin American literature, in the recognition it has achieved internationally and in the scholarly resources available for its study. An appropriate starting point for any survey of twentieth-century Latin American poetry is Saul Yurkievich, Fundadores de la nueva poestia latinoamericana. A review of popular music literature, of centres and research collections, and future research on popular music is provided in Gerard Behague 'Popular music' in Handbook of Latin American Popular Culture. The extensive literature on development communications in Latin America was written mainly in the United States.

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