VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > E. Latin America and the Caribbean, 1914–1945 > 1. Overview > b. Cultural Developments
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
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b. Cultural Developments
 
Latin American society and culture flourished in the early 20th century. Writers, poets, artists, architects, and other intellectuals regularly used their modes of expression as vehicles for critically examining their societies. Mexican poets Enrique González Rubio (1871–1952) and Ramón López Velarde are early examples of this. Peruvian essayist Francisco García Calderón argued that Latin American art was a key arena in which the region might find its ancient heritage and express its independence from the colonial powers. Latin American novels as well, such as Mariano Azuela's (1873–1952) The Underdogs (1916), were harshly critical of the social problems and inequities that pervaded the region. These critiques also reflected a new “cultural” nationalism that was growing in the region, as evidenced by the novels of Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos (1884–1969). The quality of the literature and poetry from the region was shown when Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) won the 1945 Nobel Prize in literature.  1
Latin American art took on a distinctive flavor in the early 20th century. Mexican visual artists such as José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), Diego Rivera (1886–1957), and Frida Kahlo (1907–54), along with Brazilian Cándido Portinari, received worldwide acclaim for their distinctive syntheses of European and indigenous techniques. In Brazil, novelist Oswald de Andrade and painter Tarsila do Amaral led a modernist movement beginning in the early 1920s which rejected 19th-century European doctrines and sought inspiration in Brazil's “primitive” Indian past. Along with their contemporaries in other arts, they produced work that was very critical of their societies. Composers like Mexican Carlos Chávez (1899–1978), Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959), and the Argentine-born Alberto Williams (1862–1952) and Alberto Ginastera (1916–83) likewise integrated a variety of artistic traditions to produce world-renowned music.  2
This period also saw the rise, for the first time, of urban working-class culture in Latin America. As an emerging group, urban workers sought new forms of entertainment and expression in Latin American cities. Dances such as the tango and samba, along with the increasingly important role that Carnaval played in many Latin American nations, became forums for these groups to express their views and opposition to entrenched elites in a relatively nonconfrontational way. Soccer as well became an important arena for the working classes to express their loyalties and antagonisms. (See Cultural Developments)  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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