On the Threshold of Modernization
“When it is genuine, when it is born of the need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied a mouth, it speaks with the hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at all. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.”
― Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces
I am by no means an expert on Latin America. Nor did I enroll in this class on a whim. As a person of Latin American descent, I felt drawn to learn more about my culture to write about the extraction of resources, people, and resources of Latin America.
I also wondered what “Death in Latin America” was.
Together my peers and I committed to publicly showcase our learning process. Guiding each other from A→B. Travelling from reading about Latin America to engaging in conversations about the region.
In engaging with public conversations it became apparent that, whether “good” or “bad” –as those categories seem to be dependent on how much you benefit from the decision made in Latin America– change has happened. It will continue to happen too.
We sought to answer this question: “what is modernization?”
Is it an assimilation to the culture of the global north?
Streufert writes about the Pink Tide and the transition from neoliberal ideas to leftist social organization ideas. By describing “the varying hues” of the Pink Tide movement he is also able to showcase different country’s take on modernization attempting to step away from neoliberal ideas.
Writer Roldan in her work, Childhood Obesity in Mexico, addresses the health implications that modernization has on citizens of Mexico. Roldan explores the changing social expectations and geographical landscapes that have impacted children’s health. Additionally, she questions Mexico’s proximity to the U.S–Since the only thing separating the land between Mexico and the U.S is a river and a wall– has played a role.
Travelling a few more miles south and writer Nagatomo in, Food Insecurity in Guatemala, addresses the economic modernization of Guatemala and its implication on food security. Though Guatemala has diverse landscapes and climates that create great conditions for growing food there is rampant food insecurity. This article presents the fruit that was cultivated as a result of the Columbian exchange in Guatemala.
A question that helped fuel my research queue was often, “why?”. This habit of the question “why” became most prevalent after reading Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America. Understanding that Latin America is a place of knowledge, culture, and value to different people for different reasons. I also encountered that Latin America (the place and idea) or being Latin American can mean drastically different things to different people.
In an era of the world in which there is a great shift occurring or occurring, again comes the question, “why?” In this issue, On the Threshold of Modernization, O’Brien O’Brien delves into a critique of Latin American studies. In other words, why is Latin America studied? The article exhibits the parallels and differences between academia and military tactics used during the Cold War in the Dominican Republic.
Lastly, Goldstein brings to light a connecting culture between two geographically near each other Latin America and the U.S. Highlighting cases in Latin America in which modernization has pushed people to question authority and push against assimilation to U.S culture. Other times aspects of cultures were exchanged and adopted into a global culture, which Goldstein identifies in baseball.
Though all seemingly different these articles come together to give a glimpse into the meanings of modernization in the context of Latin America. It is critical to understand the work of modernization, the positive and negative effects it has, and why it has such varied effects. Together we have gained a better understanding of the geopolitical, cultural, intra-personal region of Latin America.