The three centuries of colonization of Brazil by the Portuguese empire led to Brazil adopting most of the cultural practices owned by the Portuguese. Among the cultural inheritance that Brazil acquired is their language, the Portuguese architectural styles and the christian predominant religion. However, after gaining independence, a sense of nationalism, which can be defined as the political or philosophical ideology that stresses on the welfare of a nation or state to be regarded paramount by its people, was adopted by the Brazilians. They eventually started experiencing a process of self-discovery both politically, economically and socially. Some of the cultural self-discovery that Brazil experienced were through artistic movements and literature works. The beginning of the 20th century bestowed the Brazilians with great artists and writers who promoted the self-discovery of the Brazilian culture. This cultural and artistic revolution appealed to the feelings of national pride, history and to their ancestry at large. However, cultural self-discovery was not only confined in Brazil alone, it spread immensely to almost all the Latin America countries. In this paper, I will discuss the process of cultural self-discovery in Latin America that took place in the early 20th century.
Between 1880 and 1930, Latin America countries changed greatly, as the huge export boom was produced by neocolonialism, respective governments radically restructured themselves in order to contain the exploitation by foreign investors. By the year 1910, numerous revolutions had taken place to liberate most of the Latin American nations from the insidious influence of foreigners. By the year 1920, an immense tide of nationalism rose from nation after nation as a result, cultural self-discovery began to take center stage all over Latin America. The Latin America culture was composed of the high culture, which included literature and artistic works, and the popular culture , which was composed of music, dance and folklore art . The Latin America culture consists of a mixture of cultural activities from different countries such as Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba. Early 20th century saw Latin countries’ development in various literature and artistic works that attests to their Cultural Self –discovery.
Through self-discovery in their cultural field, the Latin Americans mural movement was initiated in the 1920’s. A mural is a type of artwork that is usually painted directly to the wall. The Latin Americans reinvigorated this old aged artistic style which had started more than 5000years prior in the Egyptian pyramids . The most successful Latin country that used to practice this cultural artistic work was Mexico. With legendary Muralist Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros, they were able to make huge and influential mural images that were used to make social and political statements in a witty way. It is through this style and politically noteworthy themes that the artist practiced largely contributed to the increased social, economical and political awareness by the Latin societies in the 20th century.
With the Constructivist movement in the early 20th century, The Latin America artistic trends incorporated the Canvas art. Constructivism was a term in the sociological theory, which suggested that every individual is a combination of numerous different parts which included childhood, culture and parentage. Incorporating constructivism in the early 20th century allowed the artists to explore the connections the society had with their culture and how it influenced them. This artistic movement was vital in exploring the significance of the Latin America artistic works with their culture.
Early 20th century which was a major cultural Self-discovery period in the Latin America also gave birth to a literary genre referred to as magical realism. Magical realism is a literary genre which combined folklore and reality. It combined in detail the real world situations with the magical happenings that are represented as natural elements. Outstanding Latin authors , Gabriel M’aquez and Augusto Bastos, are acknowledged for developing and ushering this genre into popularity. Their self-discovery due to emancipation from colonialism enabled them to introduce a new genre of literature into the modern world. Moreover, the genre of magical realism enabled non-Latin readers to be able to enjoy and understand their folklore culture, which was considered more natural than mythological.
The legacy of the colonialists and neo-colonialists as forms of imperialism still manifests itself in various parts of Latin America. With largest proportion of Latin American countries, inheriting Spanish as their first language while a few adopted the Portuguese language such as Brazil, in addition to acquiring Christianity in the form of Roman Catholicism, Latin Americans largely improved on their culture through self discovery without the help of outsiders. Cultural self-discovery in the early 20th century was a major breakthrough in developing and maintaining their respective cultures. The bold approach to artistic and literary works, which was mostly the field of focus , and the deep rooted respect for cultural standards largely contributed to the culture in Latin America. Apart from this, cultural self-discovery has enabled other people from different parts of the world to connect and experience the beauty of the Latin American Culture.
Chasteen, John Charles. 2006. Born in blood and fire: a concise history of Latin America. New
York: W. W. Norton & Co.