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The Hispanic Image in Hollywood

A Postcolonial Approach


Jorge Barrueto

The Hispanic Image in Hollywood: A Postcolonial Approach offers an in-depth analysis of how Hispanics are represented in American cinema. Film production is a reflection of American historical processes that have defined Hispanics and American mainstream identity as oppositional forces in the domestic political establishment. Hispanic difference, as depicted in film, is understood as the by-product of Western philosophy, Western science, territorial expansion, colonialism and American nation building, wherein Hispanics have been identified as the antithetical, ubiquitous Other. More precisely, specific Hollywood films not only mirror American history but also a variety of political discourses that have defined Hispanic identity. Thematic categories of American history used to construct Hispanics reflect, in many ways, a deep-rooted, Eurocentric, colonial worldview. As the research of this book clearly shows, film depictions of Hispanics have created negative visual taxonomies based on gender, race, and class.


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Chapter Three: Latin American Geography in the Movies 81


Chapter Three Latin American Geography in the Movies n the uncertain days subsequent to October 12, 1492, a tired and hungry Christopher Columbus writes about the land and the people he had just encountered. He has no idea about the culture of the natives and the features of the new geography, but he already wonders about the possibility of human exploitation, land use and the production of wealth.1 From the beginning of the European expansion in what became known as the New World, the exploitation of natural resources and the enslavement of the natives develop into the dominant socioeconomic praxis. Latin America enters Western consciousness as part of a hierarchical system that would provide Europeans with centuries of economic, religious and political satisfaction. In the beginning, it is only an image, a representation of Columbus’ desire, but later his speculations would materialize in the appropriation of agricultural land, gold and slaves and in the by-products of European colonization: genocide and the destruction of New World cultures. Centuries after Columbus, Western representation of Hispanics and the geography of Latin America still follows the same philosophical and political utilitarianism and with similar consequences. Five hundred years after Columbus’ dreams of economic riches and 1,800 miles south of the Caribbean islands, a phenomenon known as the Rainforest Chernobyl was taking place. In the region of Oriente, in the Ecuadorian jungle, Texaco’s dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste for more than two decades was causing irreparable damage to the environment and...

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