Technologies of Power: Media and Democracy

Friday, February 6, 2015
9:00am – 10:15am
Race Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Mauro Porto, Department of Communications, Tulane University

La Reina del Sur: Ten Chapters of Transnationalization in a Neoliberal Global Economy
Hannah Artman, University of Miami

During the wave of authoritarian rule in Latin America, the media industries were heavily influenced by the interest of their nations’ government. Although democracy has wiped out most traces of bureaucratic authoritarianism in the region today, we can still see how media industries reflect neoliberal trade policies in the production, dissemination, and reception of their products. The wildly popular telenovela, La Reina del Sur, is bursting with evidence that redefines Chicana/o identity within the context of a global culture. The contained cultures of authoritarian regimes by and large tried to push out the heavy economic influence of the United States, but the neoliberal policies of contemporary Latin America strategize this goal in a different way. Telenovelas and other media industries have found a way of integrating local capital with global corporate alliances to make a product relevant and successful on the local and global scale (Castañeda, 11). By doing so, Mari Castañeda affirms that, “The liberalization of economic structures has thus opened the possibility for companies located in the global south to participate in the highly competitive world stage, particularly against the hegemonic force of the United States” (Castaneda, 10). The plot of La Reina del Sur involves a Mexican woman who flees the country in fear of the cartels who have killed her boyfriend. She escapes to Melilla, North Africa and finds a Galician boyfriend and the audience is exposed to cultures and languages that go beyond Spain and Latin America, as well as many production nuances that indicate production in the U.S. By identifying aspects that are particularly Mexican and then analyzing the novela in its broader Hispanic and global context, we are able to see how La Reina del Sur cleverly maintains its Chicana/o identity while globally competing in the cross-cultural production, dissemination, and reception of telenovelas.

Painting the Public Sphere: Creative Expression as Democratic for Young Yucatec Maya-Speakers
Phillip Boyett, Tulane University

The Battle over the Marco Civil da Internet: The Limits of Participatory Democracy
Daniel O’Maley, Vanderbilt University

The signing into law of the Marco Civil da Internet (MCI), the so-called Constitution of the Internet, on April 23, 2014 represented a monumental victory for Brazilian Internet freedom activists not just because the policies it included safeguard an open Internet, but also because of how the law was drafted collaboratively via an online web platform. Yet, even in a country where participatory democracy has been embraced by the ruling Worker’s Party, the bill had lingered in congress for almost three years and was almost tabled indefinitely. In this paper I show how the logic of participatory democracy embodied in the creation of the MCI collided with the existing framework of representative democracy implemented in the mid 1980s in Brazil. Drawing on the work of Santos and Avritzer (2007), I argue that liberal representative democracy as currently constituted worldwide is dominated by elites and is closely linked to neoliberal globalization because of the tremendous influence corporations have in the governance process. In other words, the open, transparent method of policy elaboration that encouraged citizen participation that was employed to draft the MCI bumped up against the traditional legislative process that includes back-room deals, political favors, and corporate lobbying. Based on data collected through ethnographic research among Brazilian Internet freedom activists, I illustrate the unique combination of street demonstrations on online protests they used to demand change. I show how they linked their goals to the massive Brazilian street protests of June 2014 and I place their work within the larger framework of movements to strengthen the Brazilian democratic in ways that benefit citizens rather than corporations.