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- La gente bien : literary and cultural representations of the Mexican aristocracy from the mid-twentieth century to the present
- Solano-Rabago, Diomedes
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
This dissertation studies novelistic, mass-media representations, as well as reproductive models of a particular, yet elusive sector of the Mexican elite frequently labeled as “gente bien” (“well-to-do”) a cultural construct in which perceptions of race and heritage confer distinction to a network of families of European descent. In my study, I claim that the literary and film production after the 1950’s decidedly questions the traditional Mexican national discourse that populist...
Show moreThis dissertation studies novelistic, mass-media representations, as well as reproductive models of a particular, yet elusive sector of the Mexican elite frequently labeled as “gente bien” (“well-to-do”) a cultural construct in which perceptions of race and heritage confer distinction to a network of families of European descent. In my study, I claim that the literary and film production after the 1950’s decidedly questions the traditional Mexican national discourse that populist administrations (from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, “el PRI”), imposed for most of the Twentieth Century. In developing my arguments for a new reading of some major works in Mexican fiction and film, this dissertation explains why it is essential to understand some of the literary responses to the Mexican post-revolutionary discourse by resorting to notions of cultural capital and class distinction in Mexican narratives, anchoring these concepts to the postcolonial perspective of social elites, the performativity of their rituals, and their strategies of social and biological reproduction. Since the late-1950’s a significant number of Mexican novelists and filmmakers have sought to capture the consequences of the Revolution on individuals and communities in works that depict Mexican society, especially the reality of a recognizable aristocracy. My dissertation examines the ways in which these authors seek to represent and comment on the decline of the landowning aristocracy vis-à-vis the upward social mobility of the industrial bourgeoisie, the newly-formed ruling elite, the aspiring middle classes; and most recently, media celebrities.The introduction hosts a theoretical framework that traces the genealogy of the Mexican aristocracy and maps out its presence in society. Chapter one concentrates on the early narrative of Carlos Fuentes and discusses the literary representations of the Mexican aristocrats and the process of imitation and social intermingling in the 1950s. Here, I compare several models of social reproduction that aristocrats use to preserve their status by making their social distinction a commodity.Chapter two studies the cinematographic portrayal of the Mexican elites in the second half of the Golden Age of Mexican Film (1950-1958). This chapter offers a close analysis of audiovisual status symbols that distinguish aristocratic characters. Since it was during this time that films sought to legitimize a post-revolutionary national image, here I question the historical and sociological referents presented as Mexican national culture and the artistic roles of Mexican film directors stars.Chapter three focuses on narrative works by Elena Poniatowska, Guadalupe Loaeza, and José Emilio Pacheco, all of whom published novels that depict social mobility and criticize the official discourse of the 1950’s in Mexico City. These novels, published in the last two decades of the Twentieth Century, present the manner by which aristocratic distinction is instilled and reproduced during childhood.Chapter four analyzes contemporary representations of the Mexican elite in television and social media. The first part concentrates on a collection of newspaper articles and vignettes that present comedic portrayals of wealthy women. This dissertation concludes with a critique to current trends in Mexican media, which has appropriated the aristocratic discourse and has extended it to characterize actors, elected officials, and other public personalities.