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Culture Works: Space, Value, and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas Paperback – April 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Culture Works looks deeply into and beyond the current rhetoric on art with an acuity and sense of irony and understanding of the realpolitiks that are all too rare in the cultural policy literature. Professor Dávila has given us a brilliant introduction and guide to the complex interactions of art, markets, politics, and community in the first part of the 21st century."-Paul DiMaggio,author of Nonprofit Enterprise in the Arts

"The author effectively dissects the contradictory and often deleterious impact of neoliberal development in promoting inequalities of race, class, and nationality, while at the same time encoding and keying the value of Latin American folk art traditions and cultural economies...highly recommended for all academic levels/libraries."-CHOICE

"Culture Works challenges us to think critically about Latino/a culture and the men and women who create it every day. From shopping malls in Puerto Rico to art galleries in East Harlem and tango palaces in Bueños Aires, Arlene Dávila shows us the underbelly of a global political economy that gorges itself on authentic cultural forms and grinds them down into commodities. Dávila’s understanding of these complex forces illuminates the connections between all creative landscapes and the elites who try to mold them to their political will."-Sharon Zukin,author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

About the Author

Arlene Dávila is Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at NYU.  Her books include Culture Works: Space, Value and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas (2012) and Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race (2008), both available from NYU Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 241 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814744303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814744307
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Culture is organic, it is a product of the lives of people in a society: a fabric formed, voices unleashed from a the textures of human emotions, yearnings, desires and struggles, but most of all part of a product of daily living. Literature, music, dance, sitcoms, comedy, murals, protests, gatherings, traditions, and so on emerge from, and reflect that culture at any time.

Throughout history, people have attempted to influence, if not define culture. Emperors, dictators, critics, museums, rich, and elites have tried to inject their larger influence and personal views to mould or change cultures. In modern day, this trend continues through many similar sources of power, and that includes democratic governments, their funding agencies, multinationals, as well as tourists from richer economies. Neoliberal policies represent one such important influence.

While Dr. Davila explores neoliberal influences on latino culture, the concepts and ideas she develops could be widely applied in emerging countries. A shopping mall in Puerto Rico may be a community and cultural center, a place for society to connect and coalesce. These have happened naturally, further removed from the original goals of shopping. More shopping malls are no longer necessary for consumption or shopping, but the government's focus on incentivizing them over other concerns such as education, gives an example of influence. Ironically these very protests happen at the shopping mall. Perhaps, the community is just looking for a place of expression, modern day social places of gathering, expression and connection. And perhaps that yearning just happened to find its way into the largely available shopping malls.
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