Issue:
Spring 2005

Esquina de la Editora
Hispanic/Latin@ Diversity and Identity
by Ligia Lundine

Features

What’s In a Name?
By Ignacio Corona

On the Cultural Diversity of Latin America
By Abril Trigo

Hispanic/Latin@ Diversity and Identity: A New Paradigm
By Ligia Lundine

What Does Being Hispanic/
Latin@ Mean to You?
Opinions from students, faculty, staff and members of the community

Alpha Psi Lambda:
20 Years of Tradición y Familia

Demography – Hispanic/Latin@ Population in the U.S.A.
By Víctor J. Mora

A Poem
By Noe Tirado-Muñiz

Portuguese at Ohio State and Curitiba, Brazil
By Professor Lúcia Costigan

A Place to Stand: Implications of Latin@ Diversity
By Ernesto R. Escoto and Gonzalo Bruce

Understanding Latin@ Diets: One Research Group’s Efforts to Empower Fellow Latin@s
By Cristine Masters

The Trivia Question of the Week: Participating Restaurants

In Every Issue:

Graduates Achieving their Goals at OSU! Winter 2005

Su opinión
Latin@ or Hispanic: Does It Make a Difference?
By Ivonne García

Snapshot of Activities

Study Abroad
Paella, Siestas, and Studying, Oh My!
By Leslie Dunstan

Food Review
Chase Away Those Early Spring Blues
By By Anisa Shomo

Profiles:

Faculty Profile
Patricia Enciso - Education: “One of the most cherished, democratic and liberatory spaces.”
By Ligia Lundine

Juan Alfonzo - The Science of Persistence and Dedication
By Ligia Lundine

Graduate Student
Rosario Barbieri

Undergraduate Student
Luís Sanchez


 

On The Cultural Diversity of Latin America
By Abril Trigo


Abril TrigoIt has become almost a truism to celebrate, either with nationalist bravado or with ethnographic gusto, the ethnic diversity, colorful traditions, and cultural sumptuousness of Latin America. Many times, if the celebration comes from officials of Latin American governments, it resembles a tourist brochure or one of those pathetic one-page-ads published from time to time in some of the national newspapers in this country guaranteeing unrestricted freedom to foreign investors. Very often too, if the celebrants belong to the club of fans of Latin@s, they tend to qualify their enthusiasm with a judicious caveat about the social upheavals, economic disparities, political immaturity, and customarily despotic regimes that characterize the countries south of the Rio Bravo.

This picture is, of course, somewhat hyperbolic. Latin American governments do not always behave that way, and many Europeans and Americans have profound respect, backed by thorough information and deep sympathy, for the Latin American peoples. However, nowadays when the most tragic social circumstances are routinely explained away through culture and ethnicity, and when multiculturalism and diversity are the names of the game (the same way that drinking wine and carrying a laptop is solid proof of sophisticated cosmopolitanism), I opt to be suspicious every time I hear the chants of the celebrants.

The usually forgotten fact is that the cultural diversity of Latin America is the product of the complex, protracted, and many times tragic history of political conflicts and social struggles, geopolitical designs and foreign invasions, economic exploitation and implacable acculturation suffered by the peoples of Latin America since the incorporation of the continent to the “modern” world in 1492. It is worth remembering that the development and consolidation of Western modern capitalism would have been impossible without the fundamental contribution of the Americas, both material and symbolic. Particularly of the riches extorted from the aboriginal populations and the African slaves in the mines and the plantations which were the very foundation of colonial mercantilism. The tons of gold, silver, and so many other products extracted from the colonies laid the foundation for the primitive accumulation of capital that made Western modernity possible. Therefore, Latin America was from the very beginning part of the modern world, but precisely because of its colonial, and afterward neocolonial status in the geopolitical scenario, Latin American modernity was to be stigmatized by a triple damnation. Asphyxiated by the laws of unequal and uneven development, Latin American modern societies evolved as heteronomous (subject to others’ dictates, without proper autonomy), heteroclite (anomalous according to the Western model), and heterogeneous (composed of dissimilar ethnic groups, living side by side with different degrees of technological means, opposite cultural legacies, and conflicting socio-political agendas). These are the foundations – not quite a cause for celebration – of Latin American cultural diversity.

We are all proud of the cultural richness, the ethnic diversity, and the social complexity of Latin American societies, and rightly so. Sometimes we discover the sumptuousness of our cultures and the splendor of our peoples when we meet other Latin Americans from countries very different to our own, in the Latin@ diaspora. And when we identify each other, we recognize each other in precisely those traits that make us different. We are all proud of our cultures, but we have always to remember the common roots of historical plunder and deception, and the frustration and hope that we all share and that ultimately make us what we are.

Abril Trigo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

 
     

 

 
 

 

 

 
   
 


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