Political Cinema In Latin America

From nation-building to cultural translation

Authored by: Armida de la Garza

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415717397
eBook ISBN: 9781315678863
Adobe ISBN: 9781317392460


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Historically, film and politics in Latin America have been closely related. Indeed, “for the modernist tradition, the cinema was the art form and mass medium specific to the twentieth century that could provide the formal frame within which key issues of radical aesthetics could find expression” (Mulvey 2003: 263), and as Laura Mulvey notes this was especially so in Latin America. It has been widely held, however, that under the ‘postmodern condition’ of the twenty-first century, utopian ideas of social progress were abandoned, and the belief in the transformative power of art and the media in general, and cinema and particular, was put into question. A number of insightful and sophisticated theories seeking to reconceptualize politics in altogether less grand, more provisional terms have been put forward. One of these has been to recast the political as the means whereby individuals cope with the anomie, precariousness and atomization of postmodernity, from social into personal terms (Bauman 2007; Berlant 2011). Even those who see the ‘new’, digital media as delivering utopias of activism and participation cast these in terms of individuals or life-style communities, rather than in terms of citizenship. Another way is to conceive of the political as a way of finding the means to disrupt the fit whereby each one of us is “socially plugged” into the system by culture, a capacity to create “a dissociation between the work of the arms and the activity of the gaze [… a disruption of] the way in which bodies fit their functions and destinations” (Rancière 2009: 70–72). But these subversive acts are temporary only.

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