Rethinking a Global Latin America

This post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check for other posts from the conference. #AmAnth17

By Matthew C. Gutmann, co-editor of Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century with Jeffrey Lesser 

When thinking about Latin America, most people focus on the impact of the rest of the world on the region. But what if we thought about it in a radically different way? Lets flip the orientation and ask (and show)—what is the impact of Latin America on the rest of the world?

As scholars in the field, we attempted to make this shift in Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century, providing researchers, instructors, and students the opportunity to see—and share—Latin America in a new light.

What important experiments in democratic citizenship first developed in Latin America and have now been popularized across the globe? How does Latin America figure in a G20 world in which Brazil is the seventh largest economy and Mexico about to break into the top ten?

How have Brazilian Portuguese, all the Latin American Spanishes, and Latin American indigenous languages affected the way people talk, read, and even think in other parts of the world, including Portugal and Spain? What of the Latin American booms heard around the world in literature, telenovelas, music, and film? When we ask about sex workers and tourists and drugs in the region, it’s often even more fruitful to look from Latin America out and not just from the outside in to understand historic, contemporary, and future relationships.

Another with the former president of Chile Ricardo Lagos shows the global significance of Latin American creations from Che Guevara to Truth Commissions. With contributions from academics, activists, a poet, scientists, a movie star, and manga artists, on topics from the Latin American in the Vatican to Brazil’s trade of water in the form of soybeans to China to the pan-Latin food craze sweeping the earth, Global Latin America offers sharp and spicy chapters written for the general reader and classroom adoption.

Che Guevara image on man’s cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.

As editors we were inspired by explaining how and why the image of Che seemed to confront us wherever we went in the world, from a t-shirt on a football pitch in Palestine to the cap of a Chinese matchmaker in Shanghai. Sure, images of the bearded face and beret were often devoid of deep meaning, but there was his image, and we wanted to make sense of it. Trying to understand global Che led us to the larger meanings of global Latin America.

The history of Latin America is more than the Triple C’s of Conquest, Colonialism, and Christianity, the genocide, slavery, and immigration brought to the continent by rulers from Europe and the United States. This volume, like others in the GLOBAL SQUARE series, serves to remind us that regions are not just victims but also global players – and never more than today.

Matthew C. Gutmann is Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI), and Faculty Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Tools of the Trade: Resources for Cinema and Media Scholars and Educators

As part of our “Tools of the Trade” blog series, we’re showcasing resources and reference materials for educators and scholars to help you in your research, writing, and prep work this summer. Here are a few titles that continue to shape key intellectual questions and ideas within various film- and media-related fields.

A Look at Globalization and Industry Studies

Hollywood Made in China

Aynne Kokas

“Combining her personal experience working on film productions in both China and Hollywood with her strong academic credentials, Aynne Kokas has given us a pioneering study on a subject that will undoubtedly increase in importance as the Sino-Hollywood connection deepens. Future researchers on this topic would do well to begin here.

—Stanley Rosen, Professor of Political Science, University of Southern California


Voices of Labor: Creativity, Craft, and Conflict in Global Hollywood

Edited by Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson

Available worldwide through a free download at

“This remarkable collection of interviews with screen industry professionals—from costume designers to location managers—is essential reading for anyone interested in how Hollywood actually works. Voices of Labor is a unique account of the contemporary conditions, experiences, and organization of media workers and is an important contribution to media industry research.

—Ramon Lobato, author of Shadow Economies of Cinema


Topics in Documentary

Speaking Truths with Film: Evidence, Ethics, Politics in Documentary

By Bill Nichols

Bill Nichols is uniquely equipped to trace the genealogy of documentary studies—after all, he pioneered the field. Speaking Truths With Film is proof that he has yet to quit; filled as it is with his half-century chronicle of developments in both filmmaking and scholarship, it demands to not only be read, but also put to use.

—B. Ruby Rich, Editor of Film Quarterly



American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn

By Scott MacDonald

“A superbly original and informative work that takes as its project the creation of a cognitive map of a significant and geographically specific area within the larger field of independent documentary filmmaking. This book establishes a new path for documentary studies within a cultural landscape that widens to spatial media studies and beyond.

—Janet Walker, author of Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest and the Holocaust


Putting Original Source Materials to Work

The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907–1933

Edited by Anton Kaes, Nicholas Baer, and Michael Cowan

Opening entirely new pathways to the research and teaching of German film culture, this carefully edited sourcebook reveals the fantastic wealth of early ideas and thoughts on cinema.”

—Gertrud Koch, author of Siegfried Kracauer: An Introduction



Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Cultures: A Critical Anthology

Edited by Scott MacKenzie

“This book offers an exciting and productive way of thinking about cinema, allowing the reader to become acquainted with a large range of important declarations on film and on its mission from across its history. This is a volume that every film scholar will want to have.

—Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, New York University



To save 30% on all Cinema and Media titles—enter discount code 17W7196 at checkout.

Artifacts and Allegiances

By Peggy Levitt, author of Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display

This guest post is published in advance of the American Sociological Association conference in Chicago. Check back every day for new posts through the end of the conference on Tuesday, August 25th. 

Ever since August 1793, when France’s new leaders opened the doors of the Louvre to the public, museums have played a starring role in producing and representing the nation. So, in today’s global world, what kinds of citizens are museums creating? Can they inspire an openness to difference, whether it be next door or across the world?

9780520286078For some, the answer is a resounding “no.” Museums are simply too flawed by their western-centric histories to right old wrongs. A second view dismisses these critiques. To those who believe that museums are always “ideologically motivated and strategically determined,” James Cuno, President and CEO of the J.P Getty Trust, asked “Do you walk through the galleries of your local museum and feel controlled in any significant way? Do you feel manipulated by a higher power?”[i] He believes that museums still matter and that “enlightenment principles still apply.”

But, a third view, held by many of the museum professionals I talked with while writing Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display, is that museums can and must reinvent themselves into socially relevant institutions for the twenty-first century. Whether they worked in Europe, the US, Asia, or the Middle East, they know that museums are still primarily the stomping grounds of people with money in their wallets and degrees on their walls. But they also recognized the tremendous power museums wield in shaping public views, even influencing people who never cross their thresholds. They believe that museums can and should encourage empathy, curiosity, tolerance, creativity, and critical thinking—in essence, helping visitors to become more cosmopolitan. Whether or not museums willingly accept this role, they necessarily star in the drama of the nation and its place in the world.

[i] James B. Cuno, Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 44–45.


Peggy Levitt is Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College and a Senior Research Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, where she codirects the Transnational Studies Initiative. In 2015, she is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute. Her books include Books, Bodies, and Bronzes: Comparative Sites of Global Citizenship Creation, Religion on the Edge, God Needs No Passport, The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation, and The Transnational Villagers.

Land Use Change: a Hallmark of the Anthropocene – A Generation Anthropocene podcast

Eric Lambin discusses how globalization and international trade can drive land use change in unexpected ways

Published by Generation Anthropocene, August 1, 2013.

Professor Eric Lambin started his career working with satellite images to examine patterns of land change, in addition to going into the field and talking to the farmers and locals using the land. In this podcast, he also discusses how globalization and international trade can drive land use change in unexpected ways. Additionally, Professor Lambin explains the concept of potentially arable cropland (PAC) and the relevance of “peak land” in the context of the Anthropocene, especially for policy makers.

Eric Lambin’s research is in the area of land use change. He develops integrated approaches to study human-environment interactions in land systems by linking remote sensing and socioeconomic data. This includes research to better detect subtle land changes based on time series of Earth observation satellites at multiple scales. His goal is to improve modeling of causes and impacts of deforestation, dryland degradation, agricultural intensification and conflicts between wildlife and agriculture around natural reserves. New research directions include land-use transitions – i.e., the shift from deforestation or land degradation to reforestation or land sparing for nature – and the impact of land change on vector-borne diseases.

Download this podcast here.

American as Anxiety and Ambivalence

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, a professor of globalization and education at NYU and editor of three UC Press anthologies, Globalization, Learning in the Global Era, and Latinos, was invited to speak at a special town hall event on immigration presented by MSNBC’s The Last Word.

As Suárez-Orozco toured Ellis Island with host Lawrence O’Donnell, he discussed our country’s historical relationship to immigration, noting that immigrant populations have always been greeted with suspicion and distrust, from the Irish to Italians to Eastern Europeans. “There’s nothing more apple pie than anxiety and ambivalence,” he says.

Suárez-Orozco argues that fears about immigration tend to spike during times of economic insecurity. Two commonly held beliefs—that immigrants “steal jobs” and bring in crime—aren’t borne out by actual data. In fact, economists have established that immigrants generate a vigorous surplus to the U.S. economy, and are less likely to commit crimes than comparable groups of non-immigrants.

Watch the first video to see Suárez-Orozco’s conversation with Lawrence O’Donnell and his panel appearance with David Shirk of the Trans-Border Institute and actress Rosario Dawson. Then, check out the second video for more of the panel and a discussion of solutions to the debate.

Golden Gulag and Bohemian Los Angeles Praised by the American Studies Association

Congratulations to UC Press author Ruth Wilson Gilmore, whose book, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, won the American Studies Association’s 2008 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize. The ASA awards the prize to the best first book examining race and its interactions with gender, class, sexuality, or nation. In Golden Gulag, Gilmore details California’s ballooning prison system and provides social, economic and political explanations for this disturbing trend. Another UC Press book, Daniel Hurewitz’s Bohemian Los Angeles and the Making of Modern Politics, was a finalist for the 2008 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize, for the best published book in American Studies.