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When Cultural Policies Change

Comparing Mexico and Argentina


Elodie Bordat-Chauvin

How can change in cultural Policy be explained? Through a comparative and historical analysis, this research sheds new light on the emergence, institutionalization and transformation of the cultural policies of two major Latin American countries: Mexico and Argentina.
Elodie Bordat-Chauvin’s investigation is based on the material gathered in ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2008 and 2010. It gathers observations, unique archive material and more than ninety semi-directive interviews with the majority of Secretaries of Culture in office between 1983 and 2010, several intellectuals, interest groups leaders, cultural managers and members of unions who all played a role in these countries’ cultural policies in the last thirty years.
This work challenges the common assertions that Mexican cultural policy is characterized by inertia and Argentinean cultural policy by instability. It analyses factors of changes – such as the neo-liberal turn, transnationalization, decentralization and politico-institutional changes – and their consequences – including reductions in cultural budgets, transformations in cultural industries and modifications in the balance of power between national, subnational, public and private actors.
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Annex 1 – Biographical paths of the main actors of Mexican and Argentinian cultural policies


Víctor Flores Olea (1932, Toluca)

He obtained a Bachelors Degree [licenciatura] in Law at the UNAM (1956) and a Masters at the University of Rome (1956-57). In 1964 he did research at the University of Belgrade and then at the London School of Economics in 1970. Finally, he did a masters degree at the Institute of Political Science in Paris (1969-70). Afterwards he became a lecturer at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the UNAM, then director of this faculty (1970-75)1. He was then invited to France as a researcher (1974). He was also a well-known photographer and a diplomat. He was ambassador to the USSR (1975-77) and to the Peoples Republic of Mongolia (1976). In the cultural diplomacy field, he was vice-president of the Mexican commission to UNESCO in 1977, then Mexican ambassador to UNESCO (1978-82) and the UN. He became SEP Undersecretary for Culture (1977-78) then SRE Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs (1982-88) and finally President of the CONACULTA (1988-92)2. He was one of the founding members of the review Medio Siglo3 with Medio Siglo Ledo and Genaro Vázquez Colmenares4. ← 257 | 258 →

Rafael Tovar y de Teresa (1954, Mexico)

From a large, old family powerful in the 19th century. He holds a Bachelors Degree [licenciatura] in Law from the UAM. He is a former student of...

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