You are on page 1of 16

Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)

Course on Cultural Management and Communication

Final Paper
Essay on the possibilities of culture and the arts to contribute to social equality in Latin
America (*)
Student: Mara Jos Lavandera

(*) Note: This essay was originally written in Spanish and translated especially for the purpose of
fulfilling the requirements of the application to the Masters Degree in Liberal Studies at The New
School for Social Research.


The consideration of culture in today's globalized context seems unavoidable. However, its
treatment is complex at the political, social and even academic level, due to the concepts different
meanings. It involves symbolic production, ideas, feelings, knowledge, ways of doing, ideological
imaginaries, history, artistic productions of different kinds, rules and regulations... It also refers to
the growing importance of the flow of information and entertainment through the media which
is increasingly relevant in everyday life - and the anthropological transformation of communities.
The cultural dimension traverses the other areas of human endeavor: it is the "fundamental
element" that constitutes every other dimension of society. It represents the social meanings that
allow the operation of symbolic construction of oneself and the relationships with others -at the
individual level- and in social terms, it implies the symbolic construction of identity, traditions, a
system of values. In Althussers terms (1967), ideology, through the dynamics of overdetermination,
can contribute to social change. This ideological foundation is the fertile soil in which initiatives from
a particular shade grow and transpose to a mode of thinking, feeling, desiring and acting.
In Latin American countries, concern for social development has usually been focused from
an economic perspective. The problem has always been economic growth through consolidation of
the industry to modify the place of "underdevelopment" in the concert of nations. Equal distribution
among the various layers of the population has always been the unachieved following step. In
Argentina, after a genocidal dictatorship, followed by over a decade of financial instability,
destruction of the social structure of the state, de-politicization in hands of brutal neoliberalism and
social and cultural strangulation in the midst of a globalized international context, undertaking a
process of change needs rethinking the problem of the "inclusion / exclusion" binomial, poverty and
inequalities from new perspectives. In that sense, the importance of the symbolic and ideological
dimensions takes on a new light to the political and social fields.
Culture, in its multiple meanings, is the invisible clay that we are all made of. In terms of
ideology, it is the mental frameworks- the languages, concepts, thoughts and systems of
representation that different classes and social groups use to make sense of, define, configure and

make the way society works intelligible (Hall, 1998a). Culture is where social ideas arise to become
empowering to the citizenship so that it can fight to change society (Hall, 1998a).
In the Intergovernmental Conference on Institutional, Administrative and Financial Aspects
of Cultural Policies of UNESCO, held in Venice in 1970, its Director General, Ren Maheu, proclaimed
the cultural dimension of development for the first time: "Man is the means and the end of
development (...) a living reality (...). The center of gravity of the concept of development has shifted
from the economic to the social field and has reached a point where this mutation begins to address
the cultural. After several international meetings throughout the decade, it was at the World
Conference on Cultural Policies (MONDIACULT) held in 1982 in Mexico, that culture was
consolidated as fundamental to development. The Declaration states further that culture
contributes to strengthen the independence, sovereignty and identity of nations. Growth has
frequently been conceived in quantitative terms, without taking into account its necessary
qualitative dimension, namely the satisfaction of spiritual and cultural aspirations of men. The aim
of genuine development, welfare and constant satisfaction of each and every one".
In terms of Althusser (1970), the educational, communication and cultural fields are
constituted by the Ideological State Apparatuses(ISAs), which exert their power by the ruling
ideology of each society and, in less amount, by repression, what makes inequalities or exclusion
seem natural or deserved. In Althussers words (1970): If the ISAs function massively and
predominantly by ideology, what unifies their diversity is precisely this functioning, insofar as the
ideology by which they function is always in fact unified, despite its diversity and its
contradictions, beneath the ruling ideology, which is the ideology of the ruling class. In this sense,
education, media and art are key contributions to reinforce a certain type of social base and make
it cohesive and committed to their reality ties. The strategies of a part of the educational,
communicational and artistic bodies are often instrumental in the needs of the powers ruling
Nevertheless, education and culture, being key dimensions to social and individual
constitution, as they are relevant to the peaceful continuity of certain social oppressive structures,
they can also be especially fertile to work on social change. The sociologist Stuart Hall (1998a)
affirms: "[The problem of ideology] (...) has especially to do with the concepts and language of
practical thinking that stabilize a particular form of power and domination (...) It has also to do with
the processes which build new forms of consciousness, new conceptions of the world that move the
masses to social action against the prevailing system. Culture, in fact, stands as a human right since

it is the fundamental dimension to take reality into account: empowerment and social
transformation depend greatly on the possibility of discerning on the symbolic flow. Therefore, the
right of access does not necessarily mean the consumption of certain information, entertainment,
knowledge, different forms of art, but also that local communities and ethnic minorities, usually
displaced and impoverished, have the possibility to work on their own cultural development and be
the producers of their own art, education and communication processes.
For that matter, art emerges as one of the cultural entities of greater specificity for creative
production and generation of human meaning and identity. Art holds its transformation and,
therefore, inherently political potential in the action of "making art", as well as in the artistic product
that results of that activity. Its symbolic content can contribute to modify circulating meaning and
work on the engagements of the equivalent signifieds (Laclau and Mouffe, 1987). The long-time
artistic practice in socially vulnerable environments can contribute to generate a framework of
interpretation and processing the own reality, the possibilities to operate on it, while it boosts
individual self-esteem and, when carried out as a collective project, it also provides a space for social
Thus, the hypothesis of this essay states that working with sensitivity and creativity through
art has the unique potential to achieve individual and social improvements in order to challenge the
drastic social consequences of structural impoverishment suffered by Latin American societies. If a
social change is pursued, the process should ideally withhold an intelligent link between the state
and social organizations that work at the local level. Besides, public policies that would open
opportunities in a structural level -in Marxian terms- is unavoidable. That is, material progress
should become a palpable possibility1.

The Regional Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) in 2010 indicated: "Inequality is one of the main characteristics that define
the history of Latin America and the Caribbean. A very high and persistent inequality, accompanied by low
social mobility, have led the region to fall into a "inequality trap '". According to this report, one of the key
problems is the quality of poverty, which is transmitted historically through generations, making it a structural
problem in Latin American societies and generating a historic vicious circle that could only be broken by force
of political will. It also states that inequality in income, education and health is pulled from a political process
that responds differentially to the needs of each social group. Thereof it becomes essential to rethink the
quality of political representation and, thus, the capture of the state by minority groups with great economic
power, the differential potential to influence specific policies and the institutional failures that lead to
corruption. Therefore, the report expresses that "in this context, the new, specific and comprehensive policy
proposed for reducing inequality in the region must have an impact on households objective conditions, on
the constraints they face, on subjective aspects that determine individuals aspirations for greater autonomy
and mobility, and finally, on the quality and the effectiveness of political representation and the states
redistributive capacity

In a nutshell, the objective of this work is to offer some lines of analysis about the contribution
that the practice of the arts can make to the cultural strengthening of societies from a local scope
and how these processes create a fertile soil for transforming unequal Latin-American societies,
from a perspective that acknowledges culture as an essential human right.

1- Culture as a Human Right

As explained by the Polish diplomat Januzs Symonides in his text Cultural rights: a neglected
category of human rights (1998), it is because there is not a "codification treaty or declaration"
specific on cultural rights that they are grouped together and misconsidered in their particulars,
usually scattered in various instruments. So there are bodies of rights regarding culture that tightly
define them as creative, artistic or scientific activities, or (...) as a sum of human activities, a totality
of values, knowledges and practices" (Symonides, 1998).
The first UN instrument that gives explicit consideration to cultural rights is the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948, in the article
22 -which states that they are indispensable for [every members of society] dignity and the free
development of his personality- and the article 27 - that indicates more specifically that everyone
has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share
in scientific advancement and its benefits.
Later on, the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), in its
article 15 establishes that States Parties recognize the right of everyone to "a) take part in cultural
life; b) to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications; c) to benefit from the
protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic
production of which he is the author. They also commit to "conservation, development and

diffusion of science and culture", "respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and
creative activity" and cooperate internationally in the transmission of these issues.
Also, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) states the respect for
cultural diversity in the article 27: "In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic
minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in
community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and
practise their own religion, or to use their own language."

Moreover, the author explains that cultural rights must also include the right to education, to
information and freedom of conscience, opinion and expression, which are disseminated in many
other statements2.
Among the instruments corresponding exclusively to America, the article XIII of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948) regards the right to the benefits of culture and
states: Every person has the right to take part in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the
arts, and to participate in the benefits that result from intellectual progress, especially scientific
discoveries. He likewise has the right to the protection of his moral and material interests as regards
his inventions or any literary, scientific or artistic works of which he is the author.
Symonides (1998) explains that UNESCO has issued more than 20 statements and
recommendations that address the diverse cultural rights, referring to education, cultural identity,
information, participation in cultural life, creativity, protection of authors and international
cooperation. Within those mostly relevant, he mentions the Declaration of the Principles of
International Cultural Cooperation (1966), the Recommendation on Participation by the People at
Large in Cultural Life and their Contribution to It (1976), the Recommendation concerning the Status
of the Artist (1980) and the Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001).
Considering this body of regulations, Symonides (1998) concludes that "there is no need to
create new rights but to clarify, elucidate and prepare a complete list of all existing rights, because
none of the instruments on existing human rights are given a full list of cultural rights and so their
precise content is not being clear".
A progress in the direction suggested by the author has been offered by the "Fribourg Group",
a working assembly of diplomats that was organized from the Interdisciplinary Institute for Ethics
and Human Rights at the University of Freiburg (Switzerland). They worked on the "Declaration of
Freiburg"3 for UNESCO (1998), with the objective of showing "the specific fundamental logic of

The right to Education is stated on article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 13 of
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights | The right to information is stated on
article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights | The rights to freedom of conscience, opinion and expression arte stated on articles 18
and 19 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.
Les droits culturels. Projet de declaration. P. Meyer- Bisch (ed.), 1998, Paris / Fribourg, Unesco, Editions
Universitaires. It was updated in 2007. The Fribourg Group is composed of members of the Arab Institute for
Human Rights, University of Tunis, University of Paris X, University Paris II, University of Geneva, Collge de
France, University of Amsterdam, Council of Europe, University R. Schuman of Strasbourg, University of
Nouakchott, University of Abomey Calavi.

cultural rights and the cultural dimension of human rights as a whole". Culture is there defined as
the "values, beliefs, languages, arts and sciences, traditions, institutions, ways of life through which
individuals or groups express and develop themselves".
Nevertheless, it is to be noted that, even if these regulatory frameworks are built on a
democratic aspiration, they also encompass two different strains which involve the current cultural
movements, whose fluctuations cannot be fully understood without regarding the ruling economic
and political orders. On the one hand, anchored in an ideological aspect, there is one tension
between the prerogative of working on the respect and development for cultural diversity in a local,
regional and national basis in Latin America and the implementation of universal human rights. Their
representation of the consensus of the world community relative to a universal ethics and morality
(Todorov, 2009) is controversial regarding the tendency to ideological homogenization within a
political and cultural system that is as global as unequal and managed by powerful core occidental
countries that usually make their national and regional interests prevail.
On the other hand, anchored in a material aspect, a tension has developed between the
supposedly moral and material protection of authors and artists and the ever growing democratizing
power of communication technology which may enable a broader and cheaper dissemination of
knowledge, cultural assets and means of cultural production. This tension has proved to be more a
matter of financial preoccupation for grand enterprises devoted to different branches of the cultural
industry than for the artists themselves, many of whom have adapted to the new scenery and, even
more, taken advantage to produce and launch their material online independently. These
experiences are examples of the possible fissures of the ideological control exerted by official and
massive cultural industry. In terms of Adorno and Horkheimer (1989), the current processes are to
be understood from a dialectical perspective: the same production and communication technology
created by transnational industries to transmit their massive content also offers the possibility of
developing local cultural initiatives by individuals and communities, as well as it has simplified access
to different cultural assets otherwise unattainable by large portions of society in Latin America.
However, it should not be overestimated: these possibilities can only be seized properly with
an access to technological literacy through education, as well as the availability of technology itself,
both of which should be guaranteed by proper economic and educational state policies regarding
these issues.

2- Liberalism of the cultural rights: when culture lays in hands of the creative industry

Market liberalization and concentration organize the dynamics of globalized cultural industry
and the penetrating spreading of its production has forged a particular symbolic hegemonic
assembly of identities in Latin America. Therefore, the cultural field in this region also needs to be
evaluated addressing the crossed construction of Latin American modern identity and the cultural
palimpsest it represents in terms of the ideological intervention of the mass media in its
configuration (Martn-Barbero, 1997). Transnational economic liberal exigencies working hand in
hand with cultural globalization and standardized consumption patterns through commercial
media, have historically merged with local, regional and national traditions and folklore giving a
decentered, fragmentary and heterogeneous identity in constant fluidity and negotiation with the
past and the future. In terms of Martn-Barbero (1999): In Latin America, what happens in/by the
media cannot be understood outside the heterogeneity, miscegenation and cultural discontinuities
that mediate the meanings of mass discourses. The processes and practices involving mass
communication not only put movements of capital and technological innovations at stake, but also
profound transformations in the everyday culture of majorities: in the ways of being together and
of weaving social ties, in the identities capturing these changes and the discourses that socially
express and legitimize them.
In this context, cultural industry and mass media tend to operate as empty signifiers (Laclau
and Mouffe, 1987) dangerously engaged to the concept of cultural rights. However, consumption
also owns a critical and creative dimension of resistance (Martn-Barbero, 1987; Garca Canclini,
1995). Latin American cultural markets are as wide and fertile for the successful operation of
transnational capital and their construction of hegemony, as they own potential to become battling
fields able to re-organize meaning through local cultural and artistic actions. Barbero states that it
is creativity and solidarity in local communities that can give birth to alternative cultural processes
and lead to endeavor the cultural production in their own hands. Against the swindling postmodern
pluralism that confuse diversity with fragmentation, and the fundamentalism of ethnic nationalist
that transform identity into intolerance, plural communication in Latin America means the challenge
of taking the heterogeneity as an articulable value to the construction of a new collective weave, of
new forms of solidarity. While in the core countries the praise of the difference tends to mean
dissolution of sociality, in Latin America, as stated by [Norbert] Lechner, heterogeneity only
produces social dynamics linked to a notion of community. But, certainly not a sense of community

rescued from some idealized past, but one that assumes the modalities of the current ambiguous
forms: from neighborhood communities coming together to give a little dignity to their lives and
simultaneously organizing activities that recover their identity through their traditional forms of
communication -narrative and musical, for instance-, to those communities that through local radio
and television programs aim to link villages and urban slums in the search for information that
responds to their real demands of social justice and political and cultural recognition (MartnBarbero, 1999).
In conclusion, the power of diffusion of the cultural industry is as unavoidable as it is
productive. It is in the shadows of its massive engineering that small creative cultural experiences
in the basis of society are born. Their efficacy resides in their local commitment and it is from their
innovative, popular -yet not massive-, non-industrialized perspective that they can challenge the
large national and international cultural industries in terms of identity building, the fostering of
cultural diversity and the development of creative meaning production (Beaulieu, 2007).
It is in appreciation of these "unprofitable" experiences that the state should act in order to
achieve an economy of culture that prioritizes human development and, ultimately, offer the legal
framework and -in best of chances- the technical possibilities for the creation of initiatives that can
operate as valid local counterparts of the synergy of material and ideological concentration boosted
by global capitalism. Paula Beaulieu writes in Collective unconscious. Producing and managing
culture from the periphery (2007): "The current importance of the relationship between economy
and culture cannot be ignored. This relationship should be nurtured in order to develop the tools
that reflect the true current dimensions of culture, their relationship with the citizenship and
regional development". The alleged key point is working local, thinking global critically.

3- Recovering the emancipatory dimension of art: a builder of social and political citizenship

It is within the communal cultural endeavors that art exposes its social intrinsic constitution
and where its emancipatory dimension finds productivity in order to become one of the most
relevant social fields to give battle to the hegemonic meaning production and so, drive individual
and social transformations. In terms of Adornos Aesthetic Theory (2002), the piece of art finds
realization of its truth-content -meaning, its subversive quality of portraying a different
organization of society and life than the existent- within the multiple dialectical relationships it
enacts within production, its social circulation and interpretation. The philosopher argues: Truth

content cannot be something made. Every act of making in art is a singular effort to say what the
artifact itself is not and what it does not know: precisely this is art's spirit. This is the locus of the
idea of art as the idea of the restoration of nature that has been repressed and drawn into the
dynamic of history. Nature, to whose imago art is devoted, does not yet in any way exist; what is
true in art is something nonexistent. What does not exist becomes incumbent on art in that other
for which identity-positing reason, which reduced it to material, uses the word nature. This other is
not concept and unity, but rather a multiplicity. Thus truth content presents itself in art as a
multiplicity, not as the concept that abstractly subordinates artworks. The bond of the truth content
of art to its works and the multiplicity of what surpasses identification accord. Of all the paradoxes
of art, no doubt the innermost one is that only through making, through the production of particular
works specifically and completely formed in themselves, and never through any immediate vision,
does art achieve what is not made, the truth. Artworks stand in the most extreme tension to their
truth content. Although this truth content, conceptless, appears nowhere else than in what is made,
it negates the made. Each art work, as a structure, perishes in its truth content; through it the
artwork sinks into irrelevance, something that is granted exclusively to the greatest artworks. The
historical perspective that envisions the end of art is every work's idea. There is no artwork that
does not promise that its truth content, to the extent that it appears in the artwork as something
existing, realizes itself and leaves the artwork behind simply as a husk (Adorno, 2002 p. 131).
Art, in Adornos perspective, entails the unique power of encompassing truth because it
describes a possible different -and better- world: showing what is, expresses its faults and thus,
affirms possibility drenched in authenticity. He states: The seal of authentic artworks is that what
they appear to be appears as if it could not be prevaricated, even though discursive judgment is
unable to define it. If, however it is indeed the truth, then along with the semblance truth abolishes
the artwork. The definition of art is not fully encompassed by aesthetic semblance: Art has truth as
the semblance of the illusionless. The experience of artworks has as its vanishing point the
recognition that its truth content is not null (). Artworks would be powerless if they were no more
than longing, though there is no valid artwork without longing. That by which they transcend
longing, however, is the neediness inscribed as a figure in the historically existing. By retracing this
figure, they are not only more than what simply exists but participate in objective truth to the extent
that what is in need summons its fulfillment and change. Not for-itself, with regard to consciousness,
but in-itself, what is wants the other; the artwork is the language of this wanting, and the artwork's
content [Gehalt] is as substantial as this wanting. The elements of this other are present in reality

and they require only the most minute displacement into a new constellation to find their right
position. Rather than imitating reality, artworks demonstrate this displacement to reality.
Ultimately, the doctrine of imitation should be reversed; in a sublimated sense, reality should
imitate the artworks. However, the fact that artworks exist signals the possibility of the nonexisting.
The reality of artworks testifies to the possibility of the possible. The object of art's longing, the
reality of what is not, is metamorphosed in art as remembrance. In remembrance what is qua what
was combines with the nonexisting because what was no longer is (Adorno, 2002 p. 132).
In the present 21st century, the role of art and its critical capacity should be rethought within
the logics of a postmodern society, subject to identities and senses in permanent and fast transition.
Art needs to be analyzed in terms of its half-demolished modern autonomy and its interactions with
the market, politics and the cultural industry, through which it is gaining a range of roles4, all
opponents in different degrees to an increasingly diverse world that lacks of any robust meaning
anchors and is every time more subsumed to the increasingly strong - fast, porous and mutantpower of transnational capital (Garca Canclini, 2010).
In his work Art beyond itself: anthropology for a society without a storyline, Nestor Garca
Canclini (2010) suggests the concept of imminence to comprehend the action of the emancipatory
dimension of art in the current cultural scenery. He argues that it is arts possibility of being
imminent what triggers its revolutionary quality: the magic of art relies on its possibility of
suggesting something without naming it. Garca Canclini explains the concept through a quote of
the text La Muralla y los Libros (The Wall and the Books), by argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges:
"Music, state of happiness, mythology, faces shaped by time, certain twilights and certain places,
try to tell us something, or they told us something that we should not have lost, or want to tell us
something; this imminence of a revelation, which does not happen, is, perhaps, the esthetic act"5
(Garca Canclini, 2010 p.59).
Garca Canclini indicates that the current outbreak of arts rules and specific canons allows an
"overflow" that combines its action with other areas of life, which consequently generates the

() the works are made and reproduced in variable conditions, that artists, critics and curators enact inside
and outside the art world. () It is legitimate to speak of the postautonomous condition in art in contrast to
the independence achieved by the field of art in modernity, but it is not a stage that would replace the modern
period as something radically different and opposite (Garca Canclini, 2010 p. 52)
5 Original version in Spanish: La msica, los estados de felicidad, la mitologa, las caras trabajadas por el
tiempo, ciertos crepsculos y ciertos lugares, quieren decirnos algo, o algo dijeron que no hubiramos debido
perder, o estn por decir algo; esta inminencia de una revelacin que no se produce, es, quiz, el hecho
esttico (Garca Canclini, 2010 p. 59)

conditions for the enactment of its critical dimension. It is as a social praxis that it has been
renovated as a pragmatic and active field. Moreover, technological possibilities in design and
multimedia have enabled a renewed efficacy in transforming and spreading social meaning. In that
sense, the profession of the artist has also gained new meanings, possibilities and responsibilities.
Garcia Canclini considers that "being a writer or artist (...) would not be learning a coded job (...) and
belonging to a field where the effects achieved are justified only by themselves. Neither does it
imply to pact with other - political, advertising, institutional - practices (...) Literature and art give
resonance to voices proceeding from various parts of society and listen to them in a differential way,
they make of them something different than the political, sociological or religious discourses (...)
Perhaps its specificity resides in its way of saying something that fails to be fully pronounced, in that
imminence of a revelation. [Returning to Walter Benjamin, it is the] 'unrepeatable manifestation of
a distance'" (Garca Canclini, 2010 p. 60). This power to leave an unsolved margin transforms art in
a "thinking platform". The author concludes: "The artistic works do not appear to be mere
illustrations of thoughts, but to give evidence of their conceptual and formal devices, which changes
the ways in which questions are made visible" (Garca Canclini, 2010 p. 63).
If not in the sense of the avant-garde movements of the beginning of the 20th century, Garca
Canclini believes that there is a mild reconciliation between art and life that should be fostered and
strengthened by creating greater aesthetic sensibility in all social groups -among the coming
generations, among the most vulnerable part of citizenship- and provoking creativity in every aspect
of human endeavor. As stated by sociologist Stuart Hall: No ideological concept can be materially
effective unless it is articulated in the field of the social and political forces and within the policies
and the struggles between the different forces at stake (Hall, 1998a). The mere act of making art
can also mean going political. It can actually mean making a crucial political intervention. Resuming
Garcia Canclini: "One of the ways in which art is still in society is working with the imminence. The
imminence is not a threshold that we overcome, as if one of these years we were to become fully
global, intermediatic and able to coexist in the midst of interculturality with a minimum of political
intervention. Art exists because we live in the tension between what we want and what we lack,
between what we would like to name and what is contradicted or deferred by society" (Garca
Canclini, 2010 p.182).

5- Conclusion: Cultures and arts social incumbency

This essay, analyzes the consideration of culture as a human right and, within this conceptual
umbrella, the possibility of enactment of the critical dimension of art -in terms of Adorno and Garca
Canclini-, in the pursuit of social transformation towards equality in Latin America.
The question about the action of these fields in society is unavoidably political, as what is
ultimately at stake are their ideological mechanisms, which are those of creation and circulation of
meanings. Learning to give the battle for meaning would be the key point in a social process of
transformation. As Voloshinov (1976) states, the sign is also a field of class struggle. Working on
cultural processes involves going through a permanent dialectic re-definition of meanings and
identities that are in constant movement across borders between the different variants of whats
popular, whats cult and their intersection with the mass media, as well as understanding the
legitimation and de-legitimation processes that result of this.
The consideration of culture as a human right involves an equal participation of all citizens in
the social symbolic elaboration, since it is the essential element of identity and enables the capacity
and the possibility of full social and political participation in the public arena. In that sense, access
to education and culture should contribute to an increasingly strong and united social weave,
strengthening a culturally supportive, non-discriminatory and politically participatory citizenship,
conscious of the profound social inequality stalking Latin American countries and that can
understand it as the priority to be solved in the pursuit of growth and social peace. In that sense,
the binomial inclusion/exclusion should be skipped to anchor policies in a broader level. Then,
culture, as a social mechanism of ideological construction, may not only be considered as an asset
to be given or not, but as an essential movement of consciousness towards the defense of eminent
values such as equality and freedom. Ideally, the state should have a fundamental role offering
resources and efforts to achieve the democratization of critical and participatory education, as well
as guaranteeing access to be part of cultural production processes and venture their own. "The
state's role is precisely to join or articulate (...) a range of political discourses and social habits, which
are involved with the transmission and transformation of power in different sites", argues
sociologist Stuart Hall (1998b).
In that sense, using the subversive power of art means enabling to feel and empower the
utopia through creation. The challenge is that in the current context art is not transformed into
aesthetic holograms, but that its social incumbency prioritizes the ever ongoing battle for

hegemony. "The task of art is not to provide society with a narrative to organize its diversity, but to
value the imminence that makes dissent possible", concludes Garcia Canclini (2010 p. 251). Then,
the challenge stays returning to art not as sublimation, but as ideological revolution.


Adorno, T. (2002): Aesthetic Theory, Ed. Continuum, New York (Original work
published in 1970).
Adorno, T., Horkheimer, M. (1989): Dialectics of Enlightment, Ed. Continuum, New
York. Translation by John Cumming. (Original work published in 1944)
Althusser, L. (1967): Contradiccin y sobredeterminacin, in La Revolucin
terica de Marx, Siglo XXI, Bs. As.
Althusser, L. (1970): Ideologa y aparatos ideolgicos del Estado, Nueva Visin, Bs.
Beaulieu, P. (2007): Economa y Cultura in Bobbio, Daniela (Comp.): Inconsciente
colectivo. Producir y gestionar cultura desde la periferia. Abaco-Cultura
Contempornea: Fundacin Universidad Blas Pascal, Crdoba. Retrieved from:
Di Pietro Paolo, L.J. (2001): Hacia un desarrollo integrador y equitativo: Una
introduccin al desarrollo local, in Burin, David y Heras, Ana Ins (comp.),
Desarrollo Local, una respuesta a escala humana a la globalizacin, Ed. Ciccus, La
Cruja, Bs. As.
Garca Canclini, N. (1995): El consumo sirve para pensar in Consumidores y
ciudadanos. Conflictos multiculturales de la globalizacin, Grijalbo, Mexico, 41-55.
Garca Canclini, N. (2010): La sociedad sin relato. Antropologa y esttica de la
inminencia, Ed. Katz, Bs. As.
Getino, O. (2008): El capital de la cultura. Las industrias culturales en la Argentina,
Ed. Ciccus, Bs. As.
Hall, S. (1998a): El problema de la ideologa: marxismo sin garantas, in Revista
Doxa, Bs.As., Ao IX, N 18.
Hall, S. (1998b): Significado, representacin, ideologa: Althusser y los debates
post-estructuralistas, in Curran, J., Morley, D., Walkerdine, V. (compil.), Estudios
culturales y comunicacin, Paids, Bs. As.
Laclau, E. and Mouffe, C. (1987): Ms all de la positividad de lo social: antagonismo
y hegemona in Hegemona y estrategia socialista, Siglo XXI, Bs. As.
Martn-Barbero, J. (1987): De los medios a las mediaciones. Comunicacin, cultura
y hegemona, Ed. G. Gili, Barcelona.
Martn-Barbero, J. (1997): Descentramiento cultural y palimpsestos de identidad.
Estudios sobre las culturas contemporneas, Universidad de Colima, Junio, Vol. 3, N
5, 87-96.
Martn-Barbero, J. (1999): Comunicacin y solidaridad en tiempos de
globalizacin. Ponencia en el 1er Encuentro Continental de Comunicadores
Catlicos convocado por el DECOS- CELAM y OCIC-AL, UCLAP y UNDA-AL. Retrieved
Symonides, J. (1998): Cultural rights: a neglected category of human rights in
UNESCO International Social Science Journal, Vol. 50, Issue 158, 559-572.

Todorov, T. (2009): In defense of the Enlightment. Translation by Gila Walker.

Atlantic Books, London (Work originally published in 2006).
Voloshinov, V. (1976): El signo ideolgico y la filosofa del lenguaje, Nueva Visin,
Bs. As.
Local policies for cultural diversity. Executive summary - Study commissioned by
the Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue of UNESCO to the Institute
for Culture, Barcelona City Council, as Chair of United Cities and Local Governments
Committee on culture, September 2006.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1948. Retrieved from:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 1966. Retrieved from:
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 1966. Retrieved
Les droits culturels. Projet de declaration. P. Meyer- Bisch (ed.), 1998, Paris /
Final Report of the Intergovernmental Conference on Institutional, Administrative
and Financial Aspects of Cultural Policies of UNESCO. Venice, 24th August 2nd
Final Report of the World Conference on Cultural Policies of UNESCO. Mexico City,

American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Adopted by the Ninth
International Conference of American States, 1948. Retrieved from:
Regional Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean 2010
Acting on the future: breaking the intergenerational transmission of inequality
United Nations Development Programme. 2010. Retrieved from: