Cultures of Politics/Politics of Cultures: Re-Visioning Latin American Social Movements

By Sonia E. Alvarez; Evelina Dagnino et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Seventeen
Final Comments: Challenges to Cultural Studies in Latin America

PAULO J. KRISCHKE

Many scholars and activists in Latin America have tended to consider some leading contemporary trends (such as "globalization" and "neoliberalism") as general blueprints that do not require detailed research of local political conditions before being applied. Social actors and movements were then "structurally" considered as the necessary opponents of national and international oppression. The authors of this book take a different stand on these issues. They certainly recognize that those general trends are common and indeed dominant in the Latin American countries, with a host of negative effects on the polity and the society. However, they do not posit social movements as the bearers of structural resistance and national emancipation from international domination. They prefer to look at the unfolding of a nonlinear cultural process of social and political change in which "ambiguity" is a key word ( Yúdice; Schild; Alvarez; Rubin). The book portrays social actors as the subjects and interpreters responsible for the meanings and the political relevance of their actions, in their specific national contexts.

In fact, trends toward globalization can only be properly understood in their effects on social movements at the local and national levels (as the chapters by Yúdice, and by Grueso, Rosero, and Escobar, clearly demonstrate). One obvious reason for this is that there are not, as yet, international power structures capable of replacing, in Latin America, the national states as the loci of political life -- in spite of the growing importance of regional cooperation and worldwide communications (Ribeiro). Therefore, the authors of this book rightly emphasize the importance of national specifications in order to evaluate the impact of general international trends on social movements (Jelin). Of course, there is always an

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