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Review: The Passion of the Tango Author(s): Eduardo P. Archetti Source: Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 23, No.

4, The "Urban Question" in Latin America (Autumn, 1996), pp. 104-108 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/04/2011 08:45
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Book Reviews

The PassionoftheTango
EduardoP Archetti
Marta E. Savigliano, Tango and the Political Economyof Passion (Boulder: Westview Press,1994) have that in of Recentcritiques representationanthropology suggested theline relevance haveparticular is not one.Thismay fiction ethnography a clear and between work calls anthropological in one's Strathem "auto-ethnography," for what Marilyn is bothofthe whentheethnographera native that It own society. has been argued audience is moredifficult claim it to and hostculture of theethnographic general at or specialobjectivity authority thelevelofdescription. on is and working theculture anthropologist MartaSavigliano an Argentinean in of cultural product hercountry, English; the of history thetango, most"typical" the of language. about culture her through mediation another sheis a "native" writing cultural her her heritage, and, She does notclaimobjectivity, assuming gendered is her on Writing thetango for a wayof in terms. is project formulated clearpolitical and as her her abouthercity, country, condition a woman, her"exile."Thus, writing dramatic constructed scenes, characters, remembrances, family thebook combines All and gender analyses. in all,it perspectives, political self-reflections, texts, tango and waysitis historical ethnographic andin many text, is a fascinating interpretive of reflects complexity writing the The of an interesting example intertextuality. text fieldwork Japan in research contemporary and careful historical draws that uponboth education an Argentinean as own musical, and literary, political and theauthor's tradition forms bothsubject and objectof herconsciousness, Her cultural woman. and betweeninterpretation to boundaries it making difficult mediateanalytical is The rich, autobiography. result absorbing, andunorthodox. is in mainhypothesis that thecourse themodem of globalexpansion Savigliano's a with of and economy passionintertwined the ofimperialism colonialism, political of expansion the has (p. economy beendeveloping 2). Thecapitalist political general of the and dominant through production export colonialadministrapowers imperial His of Oslo. fieldwork isa atthe ofsocial P. anthropology University EduardoArchetti professor and on identity, masculinity. and has ritual, change, gender inArgentina Ecuador focused cultural
LATINAMERICANPERSPECTIVES, Issue91, Vol.23 No. 4, Fall 1996 104-131 ? 1996LatinAmerican Perspectives 104



financial and has by "production tors, goods, capital, machines beenaccompanied the in world. tango The enters theworld into market of ofpassion" theexotic peripheral of showsthat the century. Savigliano passionandexoticism thebeginning the20th at an rawmaterial" that tangoas musicanddance(notas poetics)constituted "exotic inParisandLondonandlater Tokyo. in of The originality her was early transformed is emphasis dance, performing on on and and bodies, onfantasies desires argumentthe to to of choreography. attempts drawattention the She "to related themeaning tango becauseofthedance'sdefiance intellectualization, to the of patterns bodymovement the and at of bodiesinmotion, scandals attemptsdomestication powerful messages the at and to thedanceprovoked homeandabroad, thedance'skeyrolein contributing thetango's popularity" 13). (p. 2 to of It to lyrics. is importantkeepinmind, Chapter is devoted theanalysis tango was and 1917didthe lyrics that tango originally music dance;only after however, the the intoa "formal" The of transforming tango poetics. poetics becomefundamental, is masculine. central The someofthem of epicfigures thetango profoundly authors, cultural Argentinean history (Discepolo, Flores,Manzi), are male, and the key is moralreflections, intimate displaysof emotion, narrative based on masculine and of The of occurred poetics confessions, fragments lifestories. consolidation this dominated twostyles dance:therufflanesque the and in a historical context of by with figure was and associated the of romantic. rufflanesque aggressive usually The whomno womancouldresist, admired his for thecompadrito-an seducer elegant and for overemphasizes Savigliano courage, physical strength, capacity deception. and cult in texts role the analyzed, compadrito the ofmachismo the archetypical ofthe with the in out the style butsheis right pointing that ruffianesque ofdancecoexisted of the at the tangos compadrito romantic leastuntil 1930s.In thelyrics theromantic the control womanhe loves.Here is replaced a maleunableto seduceandfully by the themeof love as hopelesspassionis common.Women, by represented the and of milonguita, gaining are and autonomy power becoming archetypical figure the different models masculinity dissimilar of and moral codes. The lyrics public. depict and were Inthe moral universe the of compadrito, means vengeance, dueling, violence in male honor. The betrayed abandoned or romantic of defending lover, contrast, wouldbe guided emotions as sadness, such Savigliano happiness, oranxiety. fear, by havenever women whenshewrites "women that the recognizes roleofautonomous in and both itslyrics choreograbeenjust 'docilebodies'or 'passiveobjects.' Tango, and has women'sabilities subvert negotiate" 69). To portray to (p. phies, recorded as love. that are masculinity problematic implies women abletochoosethementhey in presentationuncertainties of related Themodernitytango of lies lyrics precisely the and of of totheexercise romantic choice.Thepoetics thetango wellas themusic (as someofthe identities modeled are the means which by gender choreography) provides is in out the in thepublicsphere. Savigliano right pointing that tangois a complex to that cultural construction inits"classicperiod" (1917-1935)contributedclass and and conflicts tensions. gender and reflections theclassicalpoeticsofthetangowere of The ideological moral in in The lyrics notdominant thewayin which was codified ParisorLondon. tango



had an independent and can be seen to have "colonized" LatinAmerican life the where tangobecamevery the countries, popular, thisstory nota partof the but is of of history theworld expansion thetango that Savigliano deals with. The coreof is heranalysis theimpact thetango ParisandLondon. of in Europeans thetango saw as exotic, Argentineans and this. accepted "Exoticism autoexoticism interreand are of latedoutcomes thecolonial encounter, encounter is asymmetricterms an that in of 3 entered realm theexotic the of power"(p. 75). Chapter showshowthetango the at of when "rules exoticism" the beginning the20th century, of wereclearly defined in Paris and London.The historical contexts dance,opera,ballet,and identity of in constructionpublic spacesaremasterfully presented. demonstrates that Savigliano of in thetriumph thetango Pariswas no accident; Paris"hegemonized powerof the in and of affairs" 99). Thestrong expertise love,passion, all sorts erotic (p. hypothesis ofthecolonizing historical We gaze is modified herconcrete by analysis. can accept, as animportant that and analytical perspective, theimages cultural codification the of as function a mirror thecolonized. for Pariswas atthat a colonizer time complex city where established valuescoexisted with bohemian cosmopolitan the and bourgeois in of and shows wayoflifeexperienced themilieu cabarets dancehalls.Savigliano in the and that thiscontext tangowas scandalous fascinating. Thus,thetangoas a dancewas rejected Parisian and moralists by (andArgentinean European) bourgeois into context a great of with (p. 109). It entered theParisian degree cultural creativity. In a fascinating account thetransformation tango Europe, of in ofthe Savigliano describes development twochoreographies: scandalous, the of the and erotic, volupof cabaret tuoustangoas performed theartists theFrench revueandthestylized by one in anddomesticated performed thedancehalls(p. 119).Parisians modified the as and with "primitive" the "original" dance,which they perceived crude associated of pampas. imageofsexualdesire passion The and communicated the gauchos the by of as tangowas linkedwiththeperception Argentineans individuals lackingthe salons(p. 120). At that manners theFrench of time Argentineans themselves were the of on presenting figure thegauchoon horseback thefertile, open pampasas Thuspassionanddesire a flavor was incongruent a that with typical. acquired rural in sexualizedurbanimagery whichsophistication highly was valued.The tango in both ParisandinBuenosAires.I willnotdeny developed multiple styles that the tells a lotnotonly us colonial about encounters alsoabout but cultural tango creativity for In in a newly created activities. this both globalarena leisure spaceArgentineans, womenand men,playedbothan active(dancing, and and playing, performing) a of role.But passive(beingthecontent imagesdefined others, by beingtheOther) all this after (andperhaps is fundamental), tango the women to opened"a venuefor in exhibit in citiesandin different sensuality public"(p. 127). Manywomen, many were the of the cultural settings, leaving confines thehometoenter fascinating space and was She ofthecabaret thedancehall.Themilonguita Argentinean Parisian. and was sensual, and The evolved into danceofitstime. the egoistic, self-assured. tango In chapter Savigliano dealswith glorious the of tango BuenosAires to return the 4, in after cities(ca. 1910-1914).This achieving popularity Parisandother European as "'Thiscomplex writes: processis interpreted "cultural imperialism." Savigliano



intervention Argentinean into national politics through tangowas no morethan the an episode of cultural within broader a imperialism and long-standing struggle and betweenformal independence substantive self-determination" 128). She (p. of recognizes somemembers thelocal elite, that including many nationalist writers, becausethedancerepresented rejected tango the marginal peopleandthelyrics were in Others this written a crude madethecountry Spanish. accepted becausethetango anditsinhabitants known openeda world and market singers, for orchestras, comand posers, stageshowand filmproducers, record companies. Argentineans were and divided this ofcourse theimportance thetango a symbol national on on of as of The was a clearproduct thecity BuenosAiresandvery from of identity. tango of far themusicand cultural tasteof theArgentinean hinterland. Savigliano correct is in was out pointing that Argentinean identity (andstill tosomeextent) is, dependent on of and theperception Others therecognition themainworld of powers. is possible It as totreat history thetango a "colonial" the of manifestation atthesametime and as of an early and so example theglobalculture localization strategies much discussed todayamonganthropologists dealingwiththe global ecumene.The association of between symbolic the with meanings gauchoandtango(and in thesameperiod whichtheArgentinean was discovered polo andfootball, through "gaucho"style the Games of the 1920s) illustrates bothcolonial by Europeans during Olympic and After theArgentinean "created" elite the imagery Argentinean creativity. all, and literature an example national as of gauchoas a symbol thegauchesque customs In andlanguage. thecase of thetango, creative was playedby thepopular the role classesandthefirst-generation descendants European of immigrants (CarlosGardel' was bornin France).Images,commodities, and capital, persons, artists, cultural wereincreasingly between and products exchanged Argentina Europe.Savigliano whichan open social and cultural was market rightly depictsa processthrough and into created, transforming "authenticity" national identity an enduring quest (p. 167). 5 as of Chapter is themostoriginal ofthebook.The creation theOther the part In relevant reaches climax. the1930s,thetango a dancereached one its as culturally via and Japan theFrench style (imported a Japanese by aristocrat) thedancemasters who traveled Kobe to teachthehighly to had stylized competitive tangothat been Exoticism exoticism: met "lostlove,betrayal, issues of and developedin Britain. honorprovidedthe finalidentification betweentheseexoticnations"(p. 172). discovered they something common Argentineans, later that had in with Japanese and in wouldrespond thesameway.Japan wouldadoptthetangoas an Argentineans erotic danceand as dramatic music-"exoticreciprocities" to according Savigliano to butnotso exotic She that according herinformants. acknowledges most Japanese whomsheinterviewed the of tangueros emphasized "compatibilitythetwocultures different" 187). The two of morethantheattraction theexoticor theradically (p. in are different cultural interpretations fusedin hertext spiteof expressing logics: and natives emphasized similarity theanthropologist alterity. Savigliano's analysis is and role inherent that exemplifies theambivalent ambiguous ofthetango perhaps in itsmodern character.



comunconsciously, created "modern" a cultural Argentineans,thebeginning in for a and both modity hasbeentraveling almost century paradoxically changing that of a that Savigliano tellsis limited; and remaining same.The history thetango the remains be written. tango traveled andbeen to The has to globalhistory thetango of and and RussiaandtheUnited in transformedColombia Mexico,Finland Germany, The story thisnomadism of needs to be recounted. States,Egyptand Turkey. and in national discourses has tango, Savigliano beenabletoshowthat thecase ofthe of An shifts. established images are complexbecause the meaning "Otherness" will because to the aspects "Otherness" of national imagery attempt integrate various all and on and identities, relies itneedsall thefragments, thedislocated mismatched character Argentinean andwomen. thissenseSavigliano's of men In thechanging is the as by of project "decolonizing" tango as legitimate itsappropriation Parisian and British dancers. We professional bohemians, Japanese aristocrats, competitive of and but canreadherbookas an example "colonialism" "exoticism" also as a case on of of cultural creativity a global scene thatmakespossiblethe appropriation in societies by actors quitedissimilar cultural imagesandbodily practices different is andhistorical We that very existence human of society bound periods. canagree the of It this one, kind, up with creative capacity. is an achievement a different anda rare and artifacts cultural and that to generate practices can "exportable" "permanent" of the and boundaries Buenos of travel a longperiod time for beyond cultural political in can the Aires.Argentineans proudly that through say they participated thisrarity and of expansion, transformation, permanence the tango as music and dance. of cultural bookis marvelous most and welcome evidence this preciosity. Savigliano's

WorldWar II and in Its Aftermath LatinAmerica

M. Victor Uribe Transitions and Postwar America the1940s:War in David Rock (ed.),Latin
of Press,1994) 302 pp. (Berkeley: University California meetings 1986,1987, (in by in 1940swaspreceded atleastthree LatinAmerica the was whoagreed there a lack that group and 1989) ofan interdisciplinary ofexperts and on features 1940sLatinAmerica setouttofill of ofsubstantial research various and social, political, evenintellectual economic, someofthe gaps.Thebookaddresses during decadeinquestion-a decade the placeinseveral countries processes took that and to than rapid changes theregion it brought deeper more that, is argued, generally anyprevious one. M. teaches at International University. historyFlorida Victor Uribe