Faculty of Arts


Latin American Icons: Political Economy of Otherness


The course studies the ways in which Latin America as a place and a people has served as a site of otherness and exoticism providing economic and symbolic capital for the consumption and pleasure of colonial, neocolonial and neoliberal powers.

Beginning with indigenous ways of knowing, and their current decolonising processes, we then continue with the way in which colonialists imagined indigenous peoples as either cannibals or noble savages in utopia.

Woman and the role gender will later play in the formation of Latin American modern national identity and modern states formation, as in the case of La Malinche (colonial Mexico), Frida Kahlo and Evita (modern Mexico and Argentina, respectively).

Primary resources play a central role in creating ideas of latinidad, as in the corporate creation of Banana Republics (Carmen Miranda), while rhythms of otherness (rumba, tango, samba, mambo, Cha-cha and salsa) are considered the raw materials that culture industries require to develop new products for international consumption: Valentino, Carlos Gardel, Ricky Martin, thus contributig to the Latin Lover and macho stereotype. This in tandem with decolonising cultural movements, such as Third cinema.

Popular political figures arising out of mass movements and labelled as banditos, guerrilla fighters, revolutionaries or terrorist are studied in their historical context: Montezuma, Pancho Villa, Che Guevara, Sub Comandante Marcos, Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales. We finish by analysing all the grassroots civic movements from 1970s onwards to contest authoritarian regimes –with focus on the figure of the “disappeared", to current anti-neoliberal movements.

Learning objectives

When you successfully complete this course you will have gained

  • An historical, political and cultural understanding of the context that produced these icons
  • A knowledge-based understanding of the role that culture industries and civic activism play in consolidating, reinforcing and/or challenging the formation of specific icons
  • A critical understanding of the role that cultural and poltical icons play in establishing and maintaining ideological and cultural agendas
  • A set of analytical tools from different disciplines to facilitate reading of other contexts and to understand current social, political and cultural changes taking place in other societies


Coursework only

Availability 2021

Not taught in 2021




SPANISH 729: 30.0 points

Contact details | Search | Accessibility | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer | 1