Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age

Duke University Press
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In the 1920s, as American films came to dominate Mexico's cinemas, many of its cultural and political elites feared that this "Yanqui invasion" would turn Mexico into a cultural vassal of the United States. In Making Cinelandia, Laura Isabel Serna contends that Hollywood films were not simply tools of cultural imperialism. Instead, they offered Mexicans on both sides of the border an imaginative and crucial means of participating in global modernity, even as these films and their producers and distributors frequently displayed anti-Mexican bias. Before the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Mexican audiences used their encounters with American films to construct a national film culture. Drawing on extensive archival research, Serna explores the popular experience of cinemagoing from the perspective of exhibitors, cinema workers, journalists, censors, and fans, showing how Mexican audiences actively engaged with American films to identify more deeply with Mexico.
 
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About the author

Laura Isabel Serna is Assistant Professor of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Mar 3, 2014
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Pages
333
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ISBN
9780822376798
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Latin America / Mexico
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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During the twentieth century the Mexican government invested in the creation and promotion of a national culture more aggressively than any other state in the western hemisphere. Fragments of a Golden Age provides a comprehensive cultural history of the vibrant Mexico that emerged after 1940. Agreeing that the politics of culture and its production, dissemination, and reception constitute one of the keys to understanding this period of Mexican history, the volume’s contributors—historians, popular writers, anthropologists, artists, and cultural critics—weigh in on a wealth of topics from music, tourism, television, and sports to theatre, unions, art, and magazines.
Each essay in its own way addresses the fragmentation of a cultural consensus that prevailed during the “golden age” of post–revolutionary prosperity, a time when the state was still successfully bolstering its power with narratives of modernization and shared community. Combining detailed case studies—both urban and rural—with larger discussions of political, economic, and cultural phenomena, the contributors take on such topics as the golden age of Mexican cinema, the death of Pedro Infante as a political spectacle, the 1951 “caravan of hunger,” professional wrestling, rock music, and soap operas.
Fragments of a Golden Age will fill a particular gap for students of modern Mexico, Latin American studies, cultural studies, political economy, and twentieth century history, as well as to others concerned with rethinking the cultural dimensions of nationalism, imperialism, and modernization.

Contributors. Steven J. Bachelor, Quetzil E. Castañeda, Seth Fein, Alison Greene, Omar Hernández, Jis & Trino, Gilbert M. Joseph, Heather Levi, Rubén Martínez, Emile McAnany, John Mraz, Jeffrey M. Pilcher, Elena Poniatowska, Anne Rubenstein, Alex Saragoza, Arthur Schmidt, Mary Kay Vaughan, Eric Zolov

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 Gunckel’s innovative approach combines media studies, urban history, and ethnic studies to reconstruct a distinctive, richly layered immigrant film culture. Mexico on Main Street demonstrates how a site-specific study of cultural and ethnic issues challenges our existing conceptions of U.S. film history, Mexican cinema, and the history of Los Angeles. 
   
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