Latin American Youth And Market Culture In The Age Of Neoliberalism

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In my dissertation I examine how certain narratives, films and practices produced in Argentina and Chile between the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century allow for a rethinking of the connections between youth culture, the market and politics in response to the introduction of neoliberal reforms in those countries. Through the analysis of films and narratives by Alberto Fuguet, César Aira and Martin Rejtman, as well as recent expressions of Chilean youth culture, I argue that some of the cultural products dealing with contemporary youth critically engage the rhetoric of the free market by displacing both the mechanisms of exchange and those of production of value, which allows for a re-politicization of the economic discourse. Secondly, I show how these works express a discomfort with the neoliberal consensus through affective and emotional reactions that counteract the inexorable advance of the logic of the market. In the first chapter I argue that in his fictions Alberto Fuguet proposes a conception of pop that reproduces the ideology of the market. In the following sections I focus on different responses to the rhetoric of exchange, the fetishism of commodities, the commercial conception of youth culture and the naturalization of the neoliberal consensus maintained in Fuguet's fictions. Thus, in the second chapter, I propose a new reading of Martín Rejtman' slacker fictions and argue that, in these narratives, willed stupidity and disaffection imply a critical position toward the logic of circulation and the consumerism that characterized the neoliberal boom in Argentina. In the third chapter, I examine two of César Aira's novels that relate the journeys of young female characters in Buenos Aires and argue that they challenge the myths of "beauty and happiness" that during the nineties transformed youth culture into the aesthetic of the market. In the last chapter, I map a constellation of expressions and practices of youth culture that emerged in Chile between 1986 and 2006. Within the context of the recent high school students' protest against the neoliberal reform of education, I analyze how the new generation of young Chileans critically use and produce pop culture in order to express disagreement with the very concepts of neoliberal freedom and equality.
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Latin American narrative and cinema; youth culture; neoliberalilsm
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Union Local
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Castillo, Debra Ann
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Paz-Soldan, Jose Edmundo
Aching, Gerard Laurence
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Romance Studies
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Ph. D., Romance Studies
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Government Document
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dissertation or thesis
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