Culture under the Volcano

Article excerpt

This very special issue of the Journal of American Culture reflects the enthusiasm which Ray Browne and Pat Browne have had for the extension of popular culture studies. In the past few years they have eclipsed Marco Polo and Amelia Earhart in their expeditions to far places on behalf of the American Culture Association and the Popular Culture Association.

Ray Browne would have been an indefatigable duelist in the era when affairs of honor were settled at dawn by blades or matched pistols, as he immediately responds to any casual commitment by calling the bluff. Woe to some inhabitant of the Falklands who indicates a vague desire to finally make good on a promise to promote scholarly activity. Before long the schooner will appear on the horizon and the longboat will be lowered with Ray in it, ready to get on with the details of registration and allocating rooms for panels.

Fortunately, the launching of PCA and ACA activity in Mexico has not required any cutlasses. The enthusiasm which has greeted the efforts to fly the PCA and ACA flag south of the Rio Grande indicates that this is an idea whose hour has come. Mexico and Latin America are a Valhalla for cultural studies, long known for the enormous and vibrant variety of expression of a people whose humor and ingenuity are boundless. With the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States, exploring the headwaters of what has become a vast river of art and music and much else has an ever higher priority in cultural research.

However, past experience in trying to formally organize PCA and ACA activity in the region was discouraging. …