The Role of Violence in Latin American Audiovisual Media (Panel)

Spanish/Portuguese / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

María Matz (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Together with the advent of postmodern paradigms that deconstruct the notion of progress, the implementation of neoliberal policies has drastically altered the cultural landscapes of Latin America (and elsewhere) over the last decades. Instead of stories that reflect on the once-prevalent nation-building myth and thus help to establish said myth as the hegemonic ideological fabric of a given society, we now increasingly encounter violent or even hyperviolent narratives that address complex ethical questions and, indeed, at times almost seem to postulate the existence of systems of ethics that differ completely from the traditional ones we identify with Western modernity. That is why the importance of these narratives cannot be overstated: they open up spaces for new subjectivities to emerge and perhaps even for micro-resistances to occur. Moreover, as products of a world utterly devoid of certainties and of any transcendent approaches to reality other than the pursuit of financial wealth by any means necessary, these violent narratives focus on what is arguably one of the last redoubts of materiality as a category: the physical inner universe of the (human) animal, the body violently opened and reduced to its constituents of matter. This paradigmatic shift in the ways Latin America represents itself to the rest of the planet and to itself is not exclusive to the realm of audiovisual media, but it can arguably be most clearly traced there, among other things, due to their semi-unfiltered nature (at least in comparison with literature and the social sciences, for example). Therefore, this panel intends to contribute to the discussion of the violent turn in Latin American culture by exploring the ways it has manifested itself in some audiovisual artifacts of the past couple of decades, and by pondering how it both reflects and reproduces the actual, material violence pervasive throughout the region.
Latin America is, according to the Washington Post, the most violent region in the world. It is no wonder then that a great deal of its cultural production depicts this everyday reality. This session welcomes papers dealing with the representation of violence in recent Latin American audiovisual media (films, telenovelas, videoclips) and pondering how they reflect or reproduce the actual violence pervasive throughout the region.