Latin American culture
is the formal or informal
expression of the peoples of Latin America, and includes both
(literature, high art) and
(music, folk art and
dance) as well as religion and other customary practices.
Definitions of Latin America vary. From a cultural
perspective, Latin America generally includes those parts of
the Americas where Spanish, French, or Portuguese prevail: Mexico, most of
Central America, South America, and part of the Caribbean in which Haiti (a
non-Hispanic country with some Hispanic cultural influence) is
generally included. There is also an important Latin American
cultural presence in the United States of America (e.g.
California and the Southwest, and
cities such as New York and Miami). There is also increasing
attention to the relations between Latin America and the Caribbean
as a whole. See further discussion of definitions at Latin America
The richness of Latin American culture is the product of many
- Pre-Columbian cultures, whose
importance is today particularly notable in countries such as
Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay.
- European colonial
culture, owing to the region's history of colonization by
Spain, Portugal, and France.
European influence is particularly marked in so-called high culture, such as literature, painting, and
Music. Moreover, this imperial history left an enduring mark of
their influence in their languages, which are spoken throughout
Central (including the Caribbean), South and North America (Mexico
and many parts of the United States).
- Nineteenth- and twentieth-century immigration
(e.g. from Italy, Germany, and
Eastern Europe) also transformed
especially countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil (particular
the southeast and southern regions), Chile and Venezuela.
- Chinese and
Japanese immigration influenced
the culture in Brazil, Cuba, Panamá and Peru
introduction of slaves from Africa, which has influenced for
instance dance and religion, especially in countries such as
Republic,Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba.
In this sense, it might be strictly more accurate to speak of
"Indo-Afro-Latin American culture."
Latin America has a very diverse population, with many ethnic groups
and different ancestries. Only
in three countries, do the Amerindians
make up the majority of the population. This is the case of
Peru, Guatemala and Bolivia.
the rest of the Continent, most of the Native American descendants
are of mixed race ancestry.
16th century a large number of Iberian colonists left for Latin America: the Portuguese to
Brazil and the Spaniards to the rest of the region.
intensive race mixing between the Europeans and the Amerindians
occurred and their descendants (known as mestizos) make up the majority of the population in
several Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras.
in the late 16th century, a large number of African slaves were brought to
Latin America, the majority of whom were sent to the Caribbean and Brazil.
make up the majority of the population
in most Caribbean countries. Many of the African slaves in Latin America
mixed with the Europeans and their descendants (known as Mulattoes) make up the majority of the population
in some countries, such as the Dominican Republic, and large percentages in Brazil, Colombia, etc.
Mixes between the Blacks and Amerindians also occurred, and their
descendants are known as Zambos.
Latin American countries also have a substantial tri-racial
population, which ancestry is a mix of Amerindians, Whites
amounts of European immigrants arrived in Latin America in the late
19th and early 20th centuries, most of them settling in the
Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and southern Brazil).
Nowadays the Southern Cone has a large majority of people of
European descent and in all more than 80% of Latin America's white
population, which is in turn more than 90% composed of the top five
groups of immigrants, which were: Italians
and, to a much smaller extent, Irish
same period, many immigrants came from the Middle-East and Asia,
including Indians, Lebanese, Syrians, and, more recently, Koreans, Chinese and Japanese (mainly
This racial diversity has profoundly influenced religion
, and politics
. This opaque cultural heritage is
(arguably improperly) called Latin or Latino
in United States' English. Outside of the U.S., and in many
languages (especially romance ones) "Latino
just means "Latin
", referring to cultures and
peoples that can trace their heritage back to the ancient Roman Empire
. Latin American is the proper
Romance languages in Latin America: Green
is the predominant language
in the majority of the countries. Portuguese
is spoken primarily in
Brazil, where it is both the official and the national language.
French is also spoken in smaller countries,
in the Caribbean, and French Guiana.
nations, especially in the Caribbean, have their own Creole
languages, derived from European languages and various African
American languages are spoken in many Latin American nations,
mainly Peru, Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Mexico.
is one of the most spoken indigenous
languages with more than a million speakers in Mexico, which is
officially confirmed by a government's census. Although Mexico has
almost 80 native languages across the country, the government nor
the constitution specify an official language (not even Spanish),
also, some regions of the nation do not speak any modern way of
language and still preserve their ancient dialect without knowing
any other language. Guarani
is, along with Spanish, the official language of Paraguay, and is
spoken by a majority of the population. But sometimes people choose
not to speak it just because they feel like it.
European languages spoken include Italian in Brazil and Argentina, German in southern
Chile and Argentina, and Welsh in
The primary religion throughout Latin America is Roman Catholicism
. Latin America, and in
particular Brazil, are active in developing the quasi-socialist
Roman Catholic movement known as Liberation Theology
. Practitioners of
, and indigenous
denominations and religions exist. Various Afro-Latin American
traditions, such as
, and Macumba
, a tribal- voodoo religion, are also
particular is increasing in popularity.
Beyond the rich tradition of indigenous art, the development of
Latin American visual art owed much to the influence of Spanish,
Portuguese and French Baroque painting, which in turn often
followed the trends of the Italian Masters. In general, this
artistic Eurocentrism began to fade in the early twentieth century,
as Latin-Americans began to acknowledge the uniqueness of their
condition and started to follow their own path.
From the early twentieth century, the art of Latin America was
greatly inspired by the Constructivist Movement. The Constructivist
Movement was founded in Russia around 1913
by Vladimir Tatlin.
Movement quickly spread from Russia to Europe and then into Latin
America. Joaquin Torres Garcia
and Manuel Rendón
credited with bringing the Constructivist Movement into Latin
America from Europe.
An important artistic movement generated in Latin America is
represented by Diego Rivera
, David Alfaro Siqueiros
, José Clemente Orozco
, Rufino Tamayo
and many others in Mexico and
Santiago Martinez Delgado
and Pedro Nel Gómez
Colombia. Some of the most impressive muralist works
can be found in Mexico, Colombia, New
Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Mexican painter Frida Kahlo
far the most known and famous Latin American artist. She painted
about her own life and the Mexican culture in a style combining
. Kahlo's work commands the highest
selling price of all Latin American paintings.
Pre-Columbian cultures were primarily oral, though the Aztecs and
Mayans, for instance, produced elaborate codices
. Oral accounts of mythological and
religious beliefs were also sometimes recorded after the arrival of
European colonizers, as was the case with the Popol Vuh
. Moreover, a tradition of oral narrative
survives to this day, for instance among the Quechua
-speaking population of Peru and the Quiché
From the very moment of Europe's "discovery" of the continent,
early explorers and conquistadores
produced written accounts and crónicas
of their experience—such as Columbus
's letters or Bernal Díaz del Castillo
description of the conquest of Mexico. During the colonial period,
written culture was often in the hands of the church, within which
context Sor Juana Inés de
wrote memorable poetry and philosophical essays.
Towards the end of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th,
a distinctive criollo
tradition emerged, including the first novels such as Lizardi's
El Periquillo Sarniento
Century was a period of "foundational fictions" (in critic Doris Sommer's words), novels in the Romantic or Naturalist traditions that attempted
to establish a sense of national identity, and which often focussed
on the indigenous question or the dichotomy of "civilization or
barbarism" (for which see, say, Domingo Sarmiento's Facundo (1845), Juan León Mera's Cumandá (1879), or Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertões (1902)).
At the turn of the 20th century, modernismo
emerged, a poetic movement whose
founding text was Rubén
(1888). This was the
first Latin American literary movement to influence literary
culture outside of the region, and was also the first truly Latin
American literature, in that national differences were no longer so
much at issue. José Martí
instance, though a Cuban patriot, also lived in Mexico and the
United States and wrote for journals in Argentina and
However, what really put Latin American literature on the global
map was no doubt the literary boom
of the 1960s and 1970s,
distinguished by daring and experimental novels (such as Julio Cortázar
that were frequently published in Spain and quickly translated into
English. The Boom's defining novel was Gabriel García Márquez
Cien años de soledad
(1967), which led to the association of Latin American literature
with magic realism
, though other
important writers of the period such as Mario Vargas Llosa
and Carlos Fuentes
do not fit so easily within
this framework. Arguably, the Boom's culmination was Augusto Roa Bastos
Yo, el supremo
the wake of the Boom, influential precursors such as Juan Rulfo
, and above all Jorge
were also rediscovered.
Contemporary literature in the region is vibrant and varied,
ranging from the best-selling Paulo
and Isabel Allende
more avant-garde and critically acclaimed work of writers such as
, Ricardo Piglia
, Roberto Bolaño
or Daniel Sada
. There has also been considerable
attention paid to the genre of testimony
, texts produced
in collaboration with subaltern
subjects such as
. Finally, a
new breed of chroniclers is represented by the more journalistic
and Pedro Lemebel
The region boasts five Nobel
: in addition to the Colombian García Márquez
(1982), also the Chilean poet Gabriela
(1945), the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda
the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio
American music, sometimes simply called Latin music, includes the
music of many countries and comes in many varieties, from the
simple, rural conjunto music of northern
Mexico to the sophisticated habanera of Cuba, from the
symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos
to the simple and moving Andean flute.
Music has played an important part in Latin America
's turbulent recent history, for
example the nueva canción
movement. Latin music is very diverse, with the only
truly unifying thread being the use of the Spanish language or, in Brazil, its close
cousin the Portuguese
Latin America can be divided into several musical areas
. Andean music,
for example, includes the countries of western South America, typically Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile and Venezuela; Central American
music includes Nicaragua, El
Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa
music includes the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Panama, and many
Spanish and French-speaking islands in the Caribbean Sea, including Haiti, the
Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the less noted Martinique and Guadeloupe, though the Francophone islands are often
mistakenly not considered Latin.
constitutes its own musical area, both because of its large size
and incredible diversity as well as its unique history as a
Portuguese colony. Although Spain isn't a part
of Latin America, Spanish music (and Portuguese music) and Latin American music
strongly cross-fertilized each other, but Latin music also absorbed
influences from English and American music, and particularly,
One of the main characteristics of Latin American music is its
diversity, from the lively rhythms of Central America and the
Caribbean to the more austere sounds of southern South America.
Another feature of Latin American music is its original blending of
the variety of styles that arrived in The Americas and became
influential, from the early Spanish and European Baroque to the
different beats of the African rhythms.
Latino-Caribbean music, such as salsa
, etc., are styles of music that have
been strongly influenced by African rhythms and melodies.
Other musical genres of Latin American include the Argentine and
, the Colombian cumbia
, Nicaraguan palo de mayo
, Uruguayan Candombe
, the Panamanian cumbia
, and the
various styles of music from Pre-Columbian traditions that are
widespread in the Andean
region. In Brazil,
, American jazz
European classical music
combined into the bossa nova
music. Recently the Haitian kompa has become increasingly popular.
The classical composer Heitor
(1887–1959) worked on the recording of native
musical traditions within his homeland of Brazil. The traditions of
his homeland heavily influenced his classical works. Also notable
is the much recent work of the Cuban Leo
and guitar work of the Venezuelan Antonio Lauro
and the Paraguayan Agustín Barrios
Arguably, the main contribution to music entered through folklore,
where the true soul of the Latin American and Caribbean countries
is expressed. Musicians such as Atahualpa Yupanqui
, Violeta Parra
, Mercedes Sosa
, Jorge Negrete
, Caetano Veloso
and others gave magnificent examples of the heights that
this soul can reach, for example:the Uruguayan born and first Latin
American musician to win an OSCAR prize, Jorge Drexler.
, including many forms of
, is popular in Latin America today
(see Spanish language
rock and roll
Latin American film is both rich and diverse. But the main centers
of production have been Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba.
Latin American cinema flourished after the introduction of sound,
which added a linguistic barrier to the export of Hollywood film
south of the border. The 1950s and 1960s saw a movement towards
, led by the Argentine
filmmakers Fernando Solanas
. More recently, a new
style of directing and stories filmed as been tagged as "New Latin
Mexican movies from the Golden Era in the 1940s
are significant examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge
industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years.
More recently movies such as
Y tu mamá
(2001) have been successful in creating universal
stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally
recognised. Nonetheless, the country has also witnsessed the rise
of experimental filmmakers such as Carlos Reygadas
and Fernando Eimbicke
who focus on more
universal themes and characters. Other important Mexican directors
are Arturo Ripstein
and Guillermo del Toro
was a big
industry in the first half of the 20th century. After a series of
military governments that shackled culture in general, the industry
re-emerged after the 1976–1983 military
to produce the Academy
winner The Official
in 1985. The Argentine economic
affected the production of films in the late 1990s and
early 2000s, but many Argentine movies produced during those years
were internationally acclaimed, including Plata Quemada
(2000), Nueve reinas
(2000), El abrazo partido
, the Cinema Novo
movement created a particular
way of making movies with critical and intellectual screenplays, a
clearer photography related to the light of the outdoors in a
tropical landscape, and a political message. The modern Brazilian
film industry has become more profitable inside the country, and
some of its productions have received prizes and recognition in
Europe and the United States.
Movies like Central do Brasil
Cidade de Deus
have fans around the world, and its directors have taken part in
American and European film projects.
has enjoyed much
official support since the Cuban revolution, and important
film-makers include Tomás
has a strong tradition
of evolving dance styles. Some of its dance
is considered to emphasize
sexuality, and have become popular outside of their countries of
and the more popular
Latin dances were created and embraced into the culture in the
early and middle 1900s and has since been able to retain its
significance both in and outside the Americas. The mariachi bands of Mexico stirred up
quick paced rhythms and playful movements at the same time that
Cuba embraced similar musical and dance styles.
Traditional dances were blended with new, modern ways of moving,
evolving into a blended, more contemporary forms.
Ballroom studios teach lessons on many Latin American dances. One
can even find the cha-cha
done in honky-tonk
Miami has been a
large contributor of the United States’ involvement in Latin
With such a huge Puerto
and Cuban population one can find Latin dancing and music
in the streets at any time of day or night.
Some of the dances of Latin America are derived from and named for
the type of music they are danced to. For example, Mambo
, Salsa, Cha-cha-cha
, and, probably most
recognizable, the Tango
are among the
most popular. Each of the types of music has specific steps that go
with the music, the counts, the rhythms, and the style.
Modern Latin American dancing is very energetic. These dances
primarily are performed with a partner as a social dance
, but solo variations exist. The
dances emphasize passionate hip movements and the connection
between partners. Many of the dances are done in a close embrace
while others are more traditional and similar to ballroom dancing,
holding a stronger frame between the partners.
Theatre in Latin America existed before the Europeans came to the
continent. The natives of Latin America had their own rituals,
festivals, and ceremonies. They involved dance, singing of poetry,
song, theatrical skits, mime, acrobatics, and magic shows. The
performers were trained; they wore costumes, masks, makeup, wigs.
Platforms had been erected to enhance visibility. The ‘sets’ were
decorated with branches from trees and other natural objects.
The Europeans used this to their advantage. For the first fifty
years after the Conquest the missionaries used theatre widely to
spread the Christian doctrine to a population accustomed to the
visual and oral quality of spectacle and thus maintaining a form of
. It was more
effective to use the indigenous forms of communication than to put
an end to the ‘pagan’ practices, the conquerors took out the
content of the spectacles, retained the trappings, and used them to
convey their own message.
Pre-Hispanic rituals were how the indigenous came in contact with
the divine. Spaniards used plays to Christianize and colonize the
indigenous peoples of the Americas in the sixteenth century.
Theatre was a potent tool in manipulating a population already
accustomed to spectacle. Theatre became a tool for political hold
on Latin America by colonialist theatre by using indigenous
performance practices to manipulate the population.
Theatre provided a way for the indigenous people were forced to
participate in the drama of their own defeat. In 1599, the Jesuits
even used cadavers of Native Americans to portray the dead in the
staging of the final judgment.
While the plays were promoting a new sacred order, their first
priority was to support the new secular, political order. Theatre
under the colonizers primarily at the service of the
After disease, exploitation, and murder occurred to the native
population, the indigenous consciousness and identity in theatre
disappeared, though pieces did have indigenous elements to them.
The theatre that progressed in Latin America is argued to be
theatre that the conquerors brought to the Americas, not the
theatre of the Americas.
Progression in Postcolonial Latin American Theatre
Internal strife and external interference have been the drive
behind Latin American history which applies the same to
1959–1968: dramaturgical structures and structures of social
projects leaned more toward constructing a more native Latin
American base called the “Nuestra America”
1968–1974: Theatre tries to claim a more homogenous definition
which brings in more European models. At this point, Latin American
Theatre tried to connect to its historical roots.
1974–1984: The search for expression rooted in the history of Latin
America became victims of exile and death.
Latin American cuisine
is a phrase that refers to
typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the
countries and cultures in Latin
. It should be noted that Latin America is a very
diverse area of land that holds various cuisines that vary from
nation to nation.
Some items typical of Latin American cuisine include maize
-based dishes (tortillas
and other condiments
). These spices are
generally what give the Latin American cuisines a distinct flavor;
yet, each country of Latin America tends to use a different spice
and those that share spices tend to use them at different
quantities. Thus, this leads for a variety across the land.
Latin American beverages are just as distinct as their foods. Some
of the beverages can even date back to the times of the Native
Americans. Some popular beverages include mate
, Pisco Sour
and aguas frescas
Desserts in Latin America include dulce
, arroz con leche
, tres leches cake
A woman dancing folklórico in the
traditional dress of Jalisco
Traditionally, Mexicans have struggled with the creation of a
united identity. The issue is the main topic of Mexican nobel prize
winner Octavio Paz
's book "The Labyrinth of Solitude
is a large country with a large population, therefore having many
cultural traits found only in some parts of the country. The north
of Mexico is the least culturally diverse due to its very low
population and high density of those of European
descent. Northern Mexicans are
also more americanized due to the common border with the United States.
Central and southern Mexico is where many
well-known traditions find their origin, therefore the people from
this area are in a way the most traditional, but their collective
personality can't be generalized. People from Puebla, for
instance, are thought to be conservative and reserved, and just a
few kilometers away, the people from Veracruz have the fame of being very outgoing and
Chilangos (Mexico City natives) are believed to be
a bit aggressive, v,vand self-centered. The regiomontanos (from
Monterrey) are thought to be rather proud, regardless of their
social status. Almost every Mexican state has its own accent,
making it fairly easy to distinguish the origin of someone by their
use of language.
Indigenous people are likely to be perceived as inferior, even
though this rarely reaches the level of aggressive racism. It's
unusual to see Mexicans of predominately Native American
in high positions anywhere. This hidden racism is latent in the use
of the word "indio", Spanish
"Indian" as an insult for those of darker skin, which is even used
between indigenous people to offend each other.
The derogatory term naco
was forged by the
middle and upper class Mexicans to refer to the native or mestizo
population. The term allegedly comes from the word totonaco, which
is one of the ethnic groups in Valle de Mexico. Its use has been
made popular even among the poorest classes. Mexicans differ in
opinion about the meaning of the word. Some would use it for a
person who dresses in a tacky or tasteless manner, some use it to
refer to the natives, some to the poor classes, and other for
people with less education or culture and other ideology. The term
is in some terms the opposite of naco,
and it is not always derogatory and means always some relative high
economical status of the person termed in that way. Traditionally,
people with more European looks and belonging to the middle or high
classes are called fresas.
Dancing and singing are commonly part of family gatherings,
bringing the old and young together, no matter what kind of music
is being played, like cumbia
, salsa, merengue
or the more Mexican banda
. Dancing is a strong part of the culture.
in places like Guadalajara, Puebla, Monterrey, Mexico
City, and most middle sized cities, enjoy a great
variety of options for leisure.
Shopping centers are a
favorite among families, since there has been an increasing number
of new malls
that cater to people of all ages
and interests. A large number of them, have multiplex cinemas,
international and local restaurants, food courts, cafes, bars,
bookstores and most of the international renowned clothing brands
are found too. Mexicans are prone to travel within their own
country, making short weekend trips to a neighbouring city or
The standard of living in Mexico is higher than most of other
countries in Latin America
migrants in search for better opportunities. With the recent
economic growth, many high income families live in single houses,
commonly found within a gated community, called "fraccionamiento".
The reason these places are the most popular among the middle and
upper classes is that they offer a sense of security and provide
social status. Swimming pools or golf clubs, and/or some other
commodities are found in these fraccionamientos. Poorer Mexicans,
by contrast, live a harsh life, although they share the importance
they grant to family, friends and cultural habits.
Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa
and TV Azteca
) are translated to many languages and
seen all over the world with renown names like Verónica Castro
, Lucía Méndez
, and Thalía
Gael García Bernal
from Y tu mamá también
model act in some of them. Some of their
TV shows are modeled after American counterparts like Family Feud
or "A hundred Mexicans said" in Spanish), Big Brother
, American Idol
, Saturday Night Live
Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por Adela
Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue
. Local news shows
are modeled after American counterparts like the Eyewitness News
and Action News
Mexico's national sports are Charreria
. Ancient Mexicans played a
ball game which still exists in Northwest Mexico (Sinaloa, the game
is called Ulama
), though it is not a popular
sport any more. Most Mexicans enjoy watching bullfights. Almost all
large cities have bullrings. Mexico city has the largest bullring in the world, which seats
But the favorite sport remains football
is also popular especially in the northern
states because of the American influence. Professional wrestling is
shown on shows like Lucha Libre
American football is practiced at the
major universities like UNAM.
distinct strands. The Pacific coast has strong folklore, music
and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture but enriched with Amerindian sounds and
flavors. The Pacific coast of the country was
colonized by Spain and has a
similar culture to other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. The Caribbean coast
of the country, on the other hand, was once a British protectorate.
is still predominant in
this region and spoken domestically along with Spanish
and indigenous languages.
culture is similar to that of Caribbean nations that were or are British possessions, such
as Jamaica, Belize, The
Nicaraguan music is a mixture of
indigenous and European, especially Spanish and to a lesser extent German,
influences. The latter was a result of the German
migration to the central-north regions of Las Segovias where
Germans settled and brought with them polka
music which influenced and evolved into Nicaraguan mazurka, polka and waltz. The Germans that migrated to Nicaragua are speculated to have been from the regions of
Germany which were annexed to present-day Poland following the
Second World War; hence the genres of mazurka, polka in addition to
One of the more famous composers of classical
music and Nicaraguan waltz was Jose de la Cruz Mena who was
actually not from the northern regions of Nicaragua but rather from
the city of Leon in Nicaragua.
More nationally identified however, are musical instruments such as
which is also common across
Central America. The marimba of Nicaragua is uniquely played by a
sitting performer holding the instrument on his knees. It is
usually accompanied by a bass fiddle
and guitarrilla (a small guitar like a
). This music is played at social
functions as a sort of background music. The marimba is made with
hardwood plates, placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying
lengths. It is played with two or four hammers
. The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is known for a lively, sensual
form of dance music called Palo de Mayo.
It is especially loud and
celebrated during the Palo de Mayo festival in May The Garifuna
community exists in Nicaragua and is known
for its popular music called Punta
Literature of Nicaragua
be traced to pre-Columbian
the myths and oral literature
formed the cosmogonic view of the world that indigenous people had.
Some of these stories are still know in Nicaragua. Like many
countries, the Spanish
conquerors have had the most effect on both the culture and the
literature. Nicaraguan literature is among the most important in Spanish language, with world-famous writers
such as Rubén Darío who is
regarded as the most important literary figure in Nicaragua,
referred to as the "Father of Modernism" for leading the
modernismo literary movement at the end
of the 19th century.
El Güegüense is a satirical drama and was the
first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua.
It is regarded as one of Latin America's
most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua's
signature folkloric masterpiece combining music, dance and theater.
theatrical play was written by an anonymous author in
the 16th century, making it one of the oldest indigenous
theatrical/dance works of the Western Hemisphere.
The story was published in a book in 1942
after many centuries.
The Andes Region comprises roughly much of what is now Venezuela,
Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, and was the seat of the
in the pre-Columbian era. As
such, many of the traditions date back to Incan traditions.
During the independization of the Americas many countries including
Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador formed what was known as Gran Colombia
, a federal republic that later
dissolved, however the people in these countries believe each other
to be their brothers and sisters and as such share many traditions
and festivals. Peru and Bolivia were also one single country until
Bolivia declared its independence, nevertheless both nations are
close neighbors that have somewhat similar cultures.
Bolivia and Peru both still have significant Native American
populations (primarily Quechua and Aymara) which mixed Spanish
cultural elements with their ancestors' traditions. The
Spanish-speaking population mainly follows the Western customs.
Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone
monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important
pre-Columbian cultures. Major Bolivian ruins include Tiwanaku,
Samaipata, Incallajta, and Iskanwaya.
The majority of the Ecuadorian population is mestizo, a mixture of
both European and Amerindian ancestry, and much like their
ancestry, the national culture is also a blend of these two
sources, along with influences from slaves from Africa. 95% of
Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic, although their Christian beliefs
are mixed with ancient indigenous customs.
Marinera norteña, a Peruvian
Peruvian culture is primarily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish
traditions, though it has also been influenced by various African,
Asian, and European ethnic groups.
Peruvian artistic traditions
to the elaborate pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture of
. The Incas
maintained these crafts and made architectural
the construction of Machu Picchu
art dominated in colonial times,
though it was modified by native traditions. During this period,
most art focused on religious subjects; the numerous churches of
the era and the paintings of the Cuzco
are representative. Arts stagnated after independence
until the emergence of Indigenismo
in the early 20th century.
Since the 1950s, Peruvian art has been eclectic
and shaped by both foreign and
local art currents.
roots in the oral traditions of pre-Columbian
introduced writing in the 16th century, and colonial literary
expression included chronicles
became the most common literary
genres, as exemplified in the works of Ricardo Palma
. In the early 20th century, the
movement produced such writers as Ciro Alegría
, José María Arguedas
. During the second
half of the century, Peruvian literature became more widely known
because of authors such as Mario
, a leading member of the Latin American Boom
is a blend of
and Spanish food
strong influences from African, Arab, Italian, Chinese, and
Japanese cooking. Common dishes include anticuchos
, and pachamanca
. Because of the variety of
climates within Peru, a wide range of plants and animals are
available for cooking. Peruvian cuisine has recently received
acclaim due to its diversity of ingredients and techniques.
has Andean, Spanish
and African roots. In pre-Hispanic times, musical expressions
varied widely from region to region; the quena
and the tinya
were two common instruments. Spanish conquest brought the
introduction of new instruments such as the guitar and the harp, as
well as the development of crossbred instruments like the
. African contributions to
Peruvian music include its rhythms and the cajón
, a percussion instrument. Peruvian folk dances
The culture of Colombia lies at the crossroads of Latin America.
Thanks partly to geography, Colombian culture has been heavily
fragmented into five major cultural regions. Rural to urban
migration and globalization have changed how many Colombians live
and express themselves as large cities become melting pots of
people (many of whom are refugees) from the various
According to a study in late 2004 by the Erasmus University in
Rotterdam, Colombians are one of the happiest people in the world;
this despite its four-decade long armed conflict involving the
government, paramilitaries, drug lords, corruption and guerrillas
like the FARC and ELN. Colombians are sometimes called locombians
for this paradox and for their joie de vivre.
Many aspects of Colombian culture can be traced back to the
culture of Spain
of the sixteenth
century and its collision with Colombia's native civilizations
). The Spanish brought Catholicism
, the feudal encomienda
and a caste
system that favored European-born
whites. After independence from Spain, the criollos
struggled to establish a
pluralistic political system between conservative and liberal
Ethno-racial groups maintained their ancestral heritage culture:
whites tried to keep themselves, despite the growing number of
illegitimate children of mixed African or indigenous ancestry.
These people were labeled with any number of descriptive names,
derived from the casta
During this time it was normal for white individuals to marry a
sibling or close cousin to maintain their inheritance within the
family. Blacks and indigenous people of Colombia also mixed to form
creating a new ethno-racial group in
society. This mix also created a fusion of cultures. Carnivals
for example became an
opportunity for all classes and colors to congregate without
prejudice. The introduction of the bill of rights of men and the
abolishment of slavery (1850) eased the segregationist tensions
between the races, but the dominance of the whites prevailed and
prevails to some extent to this day.
industrial revolution arrived relatively late at the beginning of
the 20th Century with the establishment of the Republic of
Colombia. Colombians had a period of almost 50 years
of relative peace interrupted only by a short armed conflict with Peru over the
town of Leticia in 1932.
Bogotá the principal city was the World Book Capital
in 2007, in 2008 by
the Iberoamerican Theatrum Festival Bogota has been proclaimed as
the world capital of theatre
shaped by indigenous
, and some African
influences. Before this period, indigenous
culture was expressed in art (petroglyphs
), and social
organization. Aboriginal culture was subsequently assimilated by
Spaniards; over the years, the hybrid culture had diversified by
prominence. Initially dominated by religious motifs, it began
emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late 19th
century, a move led by Martín
Tovar y Tovar
took over in
the 20th century. Notable Venezuelan
, Cristóbal Rojas
, Manuel Cabré
, the kinetic artists Jesús-Rafael Soto
and Carlos Cruz-Diez
. Since the middle of the
20th century artists such as Jacobo
, Régulo Perez, Pedro León Zapata, Mario Abreu, Pancho
Quilici, Carmelo Niño and Angel Peña emerged. They created a new
plastic language. The 80s produced artist as Carlos Zerpa, Ernesto
León. Miguel Von Dangel, Mateo Manaure, Zacarías García and Manuel
Quintana Castillo. In more recent times, Venezuela produced a new a
diverse generation of innovating painters. Some of them are:
Alejandro Bello, Edgard Álvarez Estrada, Gloria Fiallo, Felipe
Herrera, Alberto Guacache and Morella Jurado.
originated soon after the Spanish conquest
mostly pre-literate indigenous societies; it was dominated by
. Following the
rise of political literature during the War of Independence,
expounded by Juan Vicente
, emerged as the first important genre in the region.
Although mainly focused on narrative
writing, Venezuelan literature was advanced by poets such as
Andrés Eloy Blanco
. Major writers and
novelists include Rómulo
, Teresa de la Parra
Arturo Uslar Pietri
, Adriano González León
Miguel Otero Silva
, and Mariano Picón Salas
. The great poet
and humanist Andrés Bello
an educator and intellectual. Others, such as Laureano Vallenilla Lanz
José Gil Fortoul
to Venezuelan Positivism
Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the
most important Venezuelan architect of the modern era; he designed
the Central University of
Venezuela, (a World Heritage
Site) and its Aula Magna.
notable architectural works include the Capitol, the Baralt Theatre, the Teresa
Carreño Cultural Complex, and the General Rafael Urdaneta
The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in
is Venezuela's most popular sport,
spearheaded by the Venezuela national football
, is gaining influence. Famous Venezuelan baseball players include
Luis Aparicio (inducted into the
Hall of Fame), David
Concepción, Oswaldo Guillén
(current White Sox manager, World Series champion in 2005),
Freddy Garcia, Andrés Galarraga, Omar Vizquel (an eleven-time Gold Glove
winner), Luis Sojo, Miguel Cabrera, Bobby
Ordóñez, Ugueth Urbina, and
Johan Santana (a two-time unanimously
selected Cy Young Award
In the 19th century, Brazilian theatre began with romanticism along
with a fervor for political independence. During this time, racial
issues were discussed in contradictory terms, but even so there
were some significant plays, including a series of popular comedies
by Martins Penna, Franqa Junior, and Arthur Azevedo.
In the 20th century, the two most important production centers for
professional theatre were São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. They were
centers of industrial and economic development. Even with the
development of these two theatres, World War I brought an end to
tours by European theatres so there were no productions in Brazil
during this time.
In November 1927, Alvaro Moreyra founded the Toy Theatre (Teatro de
Brinquedo). Like this company, it was in the late 1920s when the
first stable theatre companies formed around well-known actors.
These actors were able to practice authentic Brazilian gestures
gradually freed from Portuguese influence. Except for some
political criticism in the low comedies, the dramas of this period
were not popular. Occasionally the question of dependence on Europe
or North America was raised. Even with more Latin American
influence of theatre starting to filter in, its theatre still was
under heavy influence of Europe.
The Brazilian Comedy Theatre (Teatro Brasileiro de Comtdia) was
created in 1948
Oswald de Andrade wrote three plays; The King of the Candle (O Rei
da Vela, 1933), The Man and the Horse (O Homem e o Cavalo, 1934).
and The Dead Woman (A Morta, 1937). They were an attempt to deal
with political themes, nationalism, and anti-imperialism. His
theatre was inspired by Meyerhold's and Brecht's theories, with a
political sarcasm like Mayakovsky.
1943 at The Comedians: Polish director and refugee from the Nazis,
Zbigniew Ziembinsky, staged in expressionist style Nelson
Rodrigues' A Bride's Gown (Vestido de Noiva). With this production,
Brazilian theatre moved into the modem period.World War II saw
Brazil gain several foreign directors, especially from Italy, who
wanted to make a theatre free from nationalistic overtones.
Paradoxically, this led to a second renewal which engaged popular
forms and sentiments; a renewal that was decidedly nationalistic
with social and even communist leanings.
During this time, the Stanislavsky system of acting was most
popular and widely used. Stanislavski himself came to Brazil via
Eugenio Kusnet, a Russian actor who had met him at the Moscow Art
The next phase was from 1958 to the signing of the Institutional
Act Number Five in 1968. It marked the end of freedom and
democracy. These ten years were the most productive of the century.
During these years dramaturgy matured through the plays of
Guarnieri, Vianinha, Boal, Dias Gomes, and Chico de Assis, as did
mis-en-scene in the work of Boal, Jost Celso Martinez Correa,
Flivio Rangel, and Antunes Filho. During this decade a generation
accepted theatre as an activity with social responsibility.
At its height, this phase of Brazilian theatre was characterized by
an affirmation of national values. Actors and directors became
political activists who risked their jobs and lives daily.
Through this growth of Latin America politically and the influence
of European theatre, an identity of what is theatre in Latin
America stemmed out of it.
The Southern Cone
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