Technologies of Power: Media and Democracy

Friday, February 6, 2015
9:00am – 10:15am
Race Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Mauro Porto, Department of Communications, Tulane University

La Reina del Sur: Ten Chapters of Transnationalization in a Neoliberal Global Economy
Hannah Artman, University of Miami

During the wave of authoritarian rule in Latin America, the media industries were heavily influenced by the interest of their nations’ government. Although democracy has wiped out most traces of bureaucratic authoritarianism in the region today, we can still see how media industries reflect neoliberal trade policies in the production, dissemination, and reception of their products. The wildly popular telenovela, La Reina del Sur, is bursting with evidence that redefines Chicana/o identity within the context of a global culture. The contained cultures of authoritarian regimes by and large tried to push out the heavy economic influence of the United States, but the neoliberal policies of contemporary Latin America strategize this goal in a different way. Telenovelas and other media industries have found a way of integrating local capital with global corporate alliances to make a product relevant and successful on the local and global scale (Castañeda, 11). By doing so, Mari Castañeda affirms that, “The liberalization of economic structures has thus opened the possibility for companies located in the global south to participate in the highly competitive world stage, particularly against the hegemonic force of the United States” (Castaneda, 10). The plot of La Reina del Sur involves a Mexican woman who flees the country in fear of the cartels who have killed her boyfriend. She escapes to Melilla, North Africa and finds a Galician boyfriend and the audience is exposed to cultures and languages that go beyond Spain and Latin America, as well as many production nuances that indicate production in the U.S. By identifying aspects that are particularly Mexican and then analyzing the novela in its broader Hispanic and global context, we are able to see how La Reina del Sur cleverly maintains its Chicana/o identity while globally competing in the cross-cultural production, dissemination, and reception of telenovelas.

Painting the Public Sphere: Creative Expression as Democratic for Young Yucatec Maya-Speakers
Phillip Boyett, Tulane University

The Battle over the Marco Civil da Internet: The Limits of Participatory Democracy
Daniel O’Maley, Vanderbilt University

The signing into law of the Marco Civil da Internet (MCI), the so-called Constitution of the Internet, on April 23, 2014 represented a monumental victory for Brazilian Internet freedom activists not just because the policies it included safeguard an open Internet, but also because of how the law was drafted collaboratively via an online web platform. Yet, even in a country where participatory democracy has been embraced by the ruling Worker’s Party, the bill had lingered in congress for almost three years and was almost tabled indefinitely. In this paper I show how the logic of participatory democracy embodied in the creation of the MCI collided with the existing framework of representative democracy implemented in the mid 1980s in Brazil. Drawing on the work of Santos and Avritzer (2007), I argue that liberal representative democracy as currently constituted worldwide is dominated by elites and is closely linked to neoliberal globalization because of the tremendous influence corporations have in the governance process. In other words, the open, transparent method of policy elaboration that encouraged citizen participation that was employed to draft the MCI bumped up against the traditional legislative process that includes back-room deals, political favors, and corporate lobbying. Based on data collected through ethnographic research among Brazilian Internet freedom activists, I illustrate the unique combination of street demonstrations on online protests they used to demand change. I show how they linked their goals to the massive Brazilian street protests of June 2014 and I place their work within the larger framework of movements to strengthen the Brazilian democratic in ways that benefit citizens rather than corporations.

Identity in Art: Constructions and Negotiations of Race

Friday, February 6, 2015
10:30am – 11:45am
Rechler Conference Room, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Mia Bagneris, Department of Art History, Tulane University

The Other Shore: reviewing the exodus of Cuban visual artist within the Mariel boatlift
Jimena Codina, Tulane University

In 1980, between the months of April and October, about 125,000 Cubans emigrated legally from Cuba to the United States through the port of Mariel. This event impacted not only the history of Cuba but also the history of Cuban immigration, and the relations between the United States and the island. Among the thousands of Cubans who emigrated, many were artists: writers, musicians, and visual artists (mainly painters). Some of these visual artists became visible in the context of galleries, art exhibitions and journals in the United States, specifically in Miami. Despite the differences in the background and scope of these artists, and despite the contrasts in their respective careers once they emigrated to the United States, they were bound together by the common experience of immigration to the U.S. through Mariel, they all came to form the Generation of Mariel, and this, in turn, impacted the content of their work and their artistic career. Considering the processes and effects of the Mariel boat-lift on the Cuban artist community will help to understand better the intersection of grand historical processes and the production of culture, and how these artists negotiate both the grand historical narratives and their own migratory experiences through their work.

100 Years of Lies: Images of Brazil’s Unified Black Movement
Briana Royster, Ohio University

Using posters created by Afro-Brazilian activists in 1988, this presentation will provide a preliminary investigation into the U.S. influences on the Unified Black Movement (MNU), while revealing Brazil’s unique history of race relations and how activists captured that history within its political posters. Scholars have studied the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from many perspectives, including its leaders, the role of women and students, and its place as a catalyst for later movements in the U.S. like the Women’s Rights Movement and the Chicano Movement. Less studied are the transnational effects of the Civil Rights Movement in other countries such as Brazil. Brazil and the United States have a history of cross-cultural exchange, one that includes the social and political movements of people of African descent. African American activists in the United States were one inspiration for the Unified Black Movement (MNU) during the last quarter of the twentieth century in Brazil. Brazil’s contemporary black movement began in the 1970s in an effort to end the myth of Brazil as a “racial democracy.” A key component to the MNU’s strategy involved visually representing the importance of black heritage and culture. With a reliance on their rich African history and images from the US Black Power Movement, Afro-Brazilian activists created posters and artwork to foster a consciousness about the racial problems in Brazil. Although motivated by what they saw in the United States, activists also remained aware of many other movements, including African independence movements. The MNU developed an artistic campaign unique to Brazil’s history of racial hegemony and worked diligently to improve the conditions of Afro-Brazilians. Using interviews and artwork (mostly in the form of posters) this presentation will elaborate on the similarities and differences between the two sets of images, giving rise to an analysis of the movements themselves.

Dissecting Identity through Dissolution: Guillermo Gomez-Pena and the Performance of the Poetic Overstatement
Alexandra Santana, Tulane University

The purpose of this project is to examine how contemporary performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña uses a mixture of invented language and aesthetic media as deconstructive instruments in his artwork in order to question rigid notions of social identity. The project is also an examination of his use of the internet as an aesthetic medium, both literally and figuratively, in his performances. The use of the non-identity (or anonymity) of a digitized subject in his work allows for a more reflective examination of subaltern and marginalized social identities, and thus provides a possible space for the mobilization of marginalized artistic audiences. More specifically, however, I question if the conceptual fracture of social identity through digital means truly attempts to “fight against cultural, artistic, and political isolationism”? (La Pocha Nostra) Through a formal analysis of several key performances, I argue that Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s use of an imagined, yet recognizable poetic cyberlanguage dissolves the borders, both physical and intangible, between traditional boundaries of cyberculture and social identity.